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HP Envy Inspire 7220e review: A beige multifunction printer that does little to stand out

Andy Shaw
20 Apr 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
110
inc VAT

There’s little to recommend this printer over rival models, even with its reasonable price and colour touchscreen

Pros 
Affordable
Colour touch screen
Good mono text prints
Cons 
High running costs
Average colour print quality
Wasteful tri-colour cartridge
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The HP Envy Inspire 7220e has made some effort to hide the fact that, like most inkjet MFPs (multifunction printers), it’s just a big ugly plastic box. HP has tackled the problem with a splash of colour, with the scanner lid, output tray and logo featuring an accent colour that stands out amongst the usual lineup of black or white plastic alternatives.

The 7220e is available in a choice of two colours, blue or beige (sorry, “Surf Blue” or “Portobello”). The beige model that I’ve reviewed here isn’t particularly striking, but it will merge better with the decor of an average British home than the monochrome boxes available from other manufacturers.

While I wouldn’t normally launch into a printer review with a discussion on how well it’s going to blend with your decor, this may well be the most interesting thing about this printer. With the exception of a few key elements that the HP does particularly well, such as the colour touchscreen, its main features are otherwise nothing to write home about.

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HP Envy Inspire 7220e review: What do you get for the money?

The HP Envy Inspire 7220e is pretty chunky as well, weighing 6.91kg and measuring 460 x 383 x 191mm (WDH). To put this into perspective, the scanner lid looks large enough to have an A3 scanner bed below it but lifting the lid reveals a glass bed that’s only slightly larger than A4, with a lot of white plastic around the edge.

There’s only a single button on the device – a power button on the top that you can use to switch the printer on or off. Next to it, facing forwards, is a 2.7in touchscreen, which can be used to control all the device’s onboard functions. The screen is colour and is reasonably responsive, with large icons for menu options that you swipe to navigate between.

It’s mounted on a pivoting hinge and can be tipped backwards to make it easier to see from above. Only HP is putting such high quality touchscreens on printers this cheap and it’s a welcome touch of luxury.

The other feature of note is the paper tray, which sits at the bottom of the printer and can hold up to 125 sheets of plain paper. There’s also a secondary photo paper tray that sits on top of the main tray; it can only store 15 sheets but it’s handy not to have to empty the main tray when printing the occasional photo.

When it comes to printing, the device can duplex automatically, and so can print on both sides of a sheet without you having to feed it manually back into the machine. What you don’t get is very much ink in the box. HP says there’s enough ink in the starter cartridges to print a mere 120 pages of black and around 125 pages in colour, based on printing the ISO 24712 standard test images.

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HP Envy Inspire 7220e review: Is it easy to use?

The HP Envy Inspire 7220e is easy to set up and simple to use. The setup process encourages using the HP Smart smartphone app and it’s a sensible place to start, because the app communicates with the printer throughout and does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to connecting the device to your Wi-Fi network.

To connect other devices to the printer, you can send a link to them from the HP Smart app. When the new device opens the link, it will be taken to the appropriate software to download, depending on whether it’s another mobile device, a Windows PC or a Mac running MacOS.

In the case of Windows, you’re directed to the HP Smart Windows app, which is stuffed full of options and features, some that are useful and others that look suspiciously like adverts for HP services. You can access the printer through a standard Windows driver, too, for controlling the paper source and that kind of thing when printing directly from Windows software.

The touchscreen on the printer is slick and responsive. It only has three basic options on it: Copy, Scan and a customisable Shortcuts option. Tapping an option to select it opens up various sub menus and it’s a straightforward job to make a quick scan or copy of a document.

HP Envy Inspire 7220e review: How fast is it and how much does it cost to run?

While HP’s OfficeJet printers tend to be amongst the fastest inkjets, its Envy models have less of a focus on speed but tend to be a bit cheaper to buy. This printer does nothing to buck that trend.

When it comes to the time taken to print a single sheet, timed from the moment the print button is pressed to when the sheet emerges from the printer, it’s actually faster than the more expensive HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e. However, it lags behind similarly-priced competitors from Brother – the Brother DCP-J1200W and the Brother DCP-J1140DW – by several seconds.

Printing lengthy mono documents, the printer slows down somewhat. As you can see from the chart below, its 9.8ppm rate is slower than the OfficeJet and the two Brother printers.

Things speed up with colour printing, with standard quality colour document printing reaching 3.8ppm, slightly faster than the Brother DCP-J1200W. However, it’s still a significant way behind the Brother DCP-J1140DW and the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e, which are around twice as fast.

I also tested duplex printing with a colour document and, as you might expect, it’s slower than its rivals here, too. (Note that the Brother J1200W doesn’t get a score on this chart because it only duplexes manually.)

It’s a little more competitive with high quality photo printing, offering a similar performance (13mins 55secs to print six 10 x 15cm photos) to the Brother DCP-J1140DW and staying a long way ahead of the achingly slow Brother DCP-J1140DW.

Unfortunately for the HP Envy Inspire 7220e, it’s also costly to run. Looking at the printer purely in terms of buying replacement cartridges, mono printing works out at 6p per page, while colour printing costs 9.9p per page.

The printer uses tri-colour cartridges, however, so you might find yourself paying more per colour page than that and throwing away cartridges that still contain ink if your print output isn’t balanced across all three colours. As you can see from the chart below, this makes for expensive ink, even compared with HP’s own OfficeJet printers.

HP doesn’t want you to buy ink, by the cartridge, however. Instead, it would rather you choose to pay for its ink subscription service, Instant Ink, and it offers six months of the service for free with this printer. Instant Ink is similar to a pay-as-you-go mobile phone contract, where you pay a certain amount every month.

Instant Ink doesn’t differentiate between mono and colour pages but bases its charges instead based on how many pages you expect to print overall. The cheapest offering is 99p per month, and lets you print ten pages. For more pages you need to pay more per month, as you can see from the table below.

Page limit per monthMonthly feeCost per pageExcess costMaximum rollover pages
10£0.999.9p£1 per 10 pages30
50£2.996p£1 per 10 pages150
100£4.494.5p£1 per 10 pages300
300£9.993.3p£1 per 10 pages900
500£16.493.3p£1 per 10 pages1500
700£22.993.2p£1 per 15 pages2100
1,500£44.993p£1 per 15 pages4500

If you go over your allowance, you’ll be charged an additional £1 for every 10 additional pages you print. If you don’t print your full allowance, you can roll pages over to the next month and use them against excess prints. However, you can only roll-over a maximum of three months worth of pages.

Perhaps the best thing about the system is that HP will send you cartridges as you need them. I’ve found this to work well with other printers I’ve tried it on. However, if running costs do concern you, it’s probably worth considering an ink tank model instead, where running costs can dip as low as 0.2p per page for mono prints and 0.4p per page for colour.

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HP Envy Inspire 7220e review: What’s print quality like?

Black text printed by the HP Envy Inspire 7220e is crisp and sharp. It’s basically as good as you can expect from an inkjet printer and proved to be the equal of more expensive office printers such as the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e, even under magnification.

Colour printing on general office documents isn’t as good, with visible banding showing up in blocks of solid colour when printing at standard quality. However, I had no problem with the richness of the colours printed, which looked bolder than prints from the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e and on a similar level to prints from the Brother DCP-J1140DW and Brother DCP-J1200W.

Photo quality is much better than HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e as well, with brighter, stronger colours, and it trades blows with the photo output of the Brother printers, falling behind in the quality of blue skies, for example, but providing richer blacks in dark images. There was no banding visible in photos printed at the 7220e’s highest resolution.

HP Envy Inspire 7220e review: Should you buy it?

The best thing about the printer is arguably how much it costs. The £110 price tag takes it over the magical £100 barrier but only just. If you want a printer that excels at monochrome documents and you aren’t going to print enough to make it worth looking at a model with more affordable running costs, then it’s well worth a look.

However, I’d argue that the Brother DCP-J1200W is a better bet. This MFP has a lower price, cheaper running costs and is just as good at printing.

If you really want to go low on running costs and don’t mind spending a little more upfront, an ink tank printer is the way to go. The Epson EcoTank ET-2850 has a similar set of MFP features to the 7220e, but it costs around £270 to buy. Once you’ve emptied it of the thousands of pages that come in the box, however, printing costs are far, far lower.

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