Review: HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One

Our score: 5/5
Reviewed: October 17, 2012 12:00 PM
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Published: October 17, 2012 12:00 PM
Updated: January 30, 2014 3:37 PM
By Marine Goy
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
The HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One is a three-in-one multifunction inkjet printer designed for consumers with non-professional photo and document printing needs. Like any self-respecting Photosmart e-All-in-One, the 6520 supports ePrint, AirPrint (for Apple) and Google Cloud Print, three essential features for printing from mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.). It also has useful apps for printing content directly from the touchscreen without any need for a computer.

All this is nothing new for this range, but let's admit it, it's hard to get tired of these innovative features. The printer also has its own customisable e-mail address; to print from a different location all you have to do is send a file or photo in an e-mail to the printer's address. And you get to decide who's authorised to print on it.

"Print anywhere, anytime, from any device." HP's motto implies mobility, cross-device compatibility and user-friendliness. Does HP deliver?

Design & Build5/5


The Photosmart 6520 is visually identical to the model it's replacing, the 6510, except that it's just a little bit bigger (44 x 55 x 16 cm and 6 kg, compared to the 6510's 43 x 38 x 16 cm and 5 kg). The touchscreen looks sort of like an iPhone 3GS laid horizontally, and touch the screen with your fingers to print, scan, copy or use apps via Wi-Fi.

Setting up the Wi-Fi connection is child's play. The applications connect automatically and give you access to a whole range of printables: Disney and DreamWorks colouring pages, games, calendars, sheet music, graph paper, cover sheets, worldwide news feeds, Sudoku, games and activities for kids, origami instructions, mazes, puzzles, real estate ads, etc. etc. That's the basic content, and it's frequently updated so you never really get bored with it! The world of apps on printers is making headway, and HP is playing the "partnership" strategy by making other downloadable apps available on its site, www.hpeprintcenter.com.

HP's help section is well-thought out with a short tutorial video for installation and use. Any time you have an issue, a message appears, often along with a video, offering to solve the problem and informing the user once it's been resolved.

The minimalist menu is set by default to a simplified configuration to make it simpler to understand. But the other features aren't missing, they're still accessible simply by selecting the custom configuration option.

HP Photosmart 6520 touchscreen
3.45" touchscreen (looks kind of like an iPhone 3GS)

The homescreen includes an Eco button that takes you straight to all sorts of settings: screen brightness, simplex/duplex, standby options and so on. Highly practical!

The card reader located at the bottom left in the photo below allows you to print pictures straight from your card. And the editing tool is full of options: rotate, crop, retouch, frame, brightness, colour effects (sepia, B&W, antique)...
 
HP Photosmart 6520 card reader
Cards go in the slot on the bottom left

The dual paper tray (for photos and A4) makes it easier to switch between 4 x 6" photos and documents. It has a relatively small capacity of 80 ordinary A4 sheets plus 20 sheets of photo paper. Users with a Snapfish account can enter their login and password on the touchscreen and access their account straight from the printer (yes, HP owns Snapfish).
 
HP Photosmart 6520 trayB
Paper tray with dedicated photo tray
 

Print Speed4/5


The Photosmart 6520 gets the exact same print speeds as the 6510. In other words, it's fast with both text documents and photographs. The 6520 is much faster than the Photosmart Plus (210a), which prints 10 pages per minute in colour and 13 ppm in B&W, and the Epson Stylus SX440W, which prints 4 ppm in colour and 8 ppm in B&W. As always, duplex (double-sided printing) considerably slows down the printing process, all the way down to 4 ppm in both colour and B&W.


HP Photosmart 6520 ppm
Print speeds in pages per minute (ppm)
The maximum speed is 46 ppm


When printing photos the 6520 takes 1 minute and 24 seconds for A4 and 42 seconds for 4 x 6". That's comparable to the Photosmart Plus (210a), but three times as fast as the Epson Stylus SX440W!

 
HP Photosmart 6520 photo
 

Print Quality3/5


While HP's printers are often ahead of the competition when it comes to handling and connectivity, they're still lagging in terms of print quality. And yet, it's always been the same problem hampering the legibility and quality of HP's prints: the size of the ink droplets. Our test graph (blown up three times in the image below) shows it all. Obviously, at native size the droplets are less visible than they are here. But as for shading, colour accuracy, legibility and overall rendering, it's all more or less good.


HP Photosmart 6520 graph


Blues and greens are wildly exaggerated, but the average colour difference stays reasonable at 9.1.

 
HP Photosmart 6520 Destd
Average Delta E 94 (colour difference): 9.1
The higher the bar, the less accurate the colour
The average for printers we've reviewed is 7

 
When printing photos the print quality suffers the same problem. In addition to the visible ink droplets, if you look closely you'll notice that blacks and whites painfully lack depth. While the end result may be generally satisfactory, it's far from the quality you'd get with a Canon Pixma MG6250 (although the MG6250 requires six cartridges, compared to the Photosmart 6520's four).

HP Photosmart 6520 Theo


The colour accuracy on photos is fine, but not amazing. Blues and greys show the highest differences on the graph.

 
HP Photosmart 6520 dE Photo
Average Delta E 94 (colour difference): 5.8


Scan & Copy4/5


You can scan documents into a number of different file formats (JPEG, TIFF, PDF, BMP and PNG) and save them directly onto a memory card, computer or e-mail address.

The copier mode is just brimming with possibilities. You can opt to use the default mode or customise your settings (colour/B&W, simplex/duplex, high quality/eco mode...). If you want to go even further into the settings you'll find options such as resizing, dark/light text, format, paper size, margins and so on.

Even after using the enhancement options the copier mode still loses precision when reproducing things like graphs and colours. Here the colour accuracy is relatively high with a low Delta E of 3.2. But it's worth noting that copy mode will never reproduce the original colours perfectly.

 
HP Photosmart 6520 dE copy
Average Delta E 94 (colour difference): 3.2
 

Power Use & Noise5/5


The Photosmart 6520 uses less than 1 watt of energy on standby and 13 watts during use. This is relatively low when you compare it to the average for inkjets, which is usually around 3 W on standby and 20 W during use. And at 48 dB(A), it's also a quiet printer.



Cost Per Page5/5


The Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One supports two types of ink cartridge: standard and high capacity (XL). The high capacity cartridges are more expensive, but they last much longer and in the long run will cost you less if you print often. The cost per page using XL cartridges on the Photosmart 6520 is one of the cheapest on the market: 5.7 pence. That's well below average; for comparison, some other printers with inexpensive costs per page are the Canon Pixma MG5350 (9.1 p) and the Brother MFC-J825DW (9.8 p).


ISO Lifespan - XL cartridges
Cartridge Price (recommended) ISO Lifespan Cost Per Page
364XL (black) £9.76 550 1.8 pence
364XL (cyan) £9.76 750 1.3 pence
364XL (magenta) £9.76 750 1.3 pence
364XL (yellow) £9.76 750 1.3 pence

5/5 HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One DigitalVersus 2012-10-17 13:00:00

Pros

  • Intuitive, user-friendly
  • Wi-Fi
  • Duplex
  • Capable of printing online content with or without a computer
  • Scan to e-mail
  • Fast printing
  • Dual paper tray
  • Low power usage (less than 1 W on standby)
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Print quality
  • Visible ink droplets
  • Paper tray has a capacity of only 80 sheets
  • B&W photos lack depth

Conclusion

The Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One has almost the full gamut of features, including online connectivity. The user-friendliness, apps for simplified printing and low cost per page are just some of the things that make this a printer worth buying. However, the questionable print quality makes it fall just short of its 5th star.

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