My latest printer review takes a look at the HP Smart Tank 5101, HP’s answer to similar tank-based printers from Epson, Canon and Brother. Tank printers promise a a much lower cost of ownership compared to traditional cartridge-based printers.
The printer, which I received from HP, came with a full set of four ink bottles, estimated to last for about 7,000 to 8,000 pages. The cost of replacing all the ink is around $66, significantly less than the the cost for cartridges printing at that volume.
Setting up the HP Smart Tank 5101 was straightforward, especially when using HP’s smartphone app. This app simplifies connecting the printer to Wi-Fi, allowing for easy printing from various devices. Loading the ink was a clean and simple process, involving placing the bottle on the corresponding color tank and letting it drain. The printer also features replaceable print heads, but there’s no clear information on their lifespan or replacement cost.
That is one of the unmentioned components of tank printer ownership : the ink bottles are not the only consumable. Epson printers for example have a sponge that collects excess ink that needs to be replaced by their service provider after a length of time. It’s not clear what other hidden costs might be present with this printer.
The 5101 is fairly compact, with a flatbed scanner but no document feeder, limiting its scanning capabilities to standard paper sizes. It can handle about 100 pages of 20 lb stock in its rear paper tray and doesn’t support automatic duplex printing. The print speed is sufficient for a home printer, coming in at 12 pages per minute in black and white and five pages per minute in color. These speeds are from the lower quality “normal” mode – the “best” setting is a little bit slower but looks much better.
In terms of print quality, the HP Smart Tank 5101 performs well for its price point. Text documents printed in normal quality are clear and legible, while color documents show a noticeable improvement in quality when printed in the best setting. The printer can handle borderless photo printing up to 8.5×11 inches, but the output quality isn’t on par with dedicated photo printers.
Scanning functionality is another aspect I explored. The printer appears as a scanner on network-connected devices, and the HP Smart app allows for scanning documents directly to a phone. However, the app limits the scanning resolution to 300 DPI, while the scanner itself can go up to 1200 DPI. For high-resolution scans, using computer applications is advisable.
Printing from mobile devices is seamless, both from HP’s app and directly from other applications. I tested both an iPhone and Android phone in my review and both detected the printer automatically.
The printer also offers a basic copying function, with decent quality for color copies.
The HP Smart Tank 5101 is a solid choice for home users who print regularly. Its low cost per page, ease of use, and decent print quality make it a practical option for everyday printing tasks. However, for those who print infrequently, a laser printer might be a better choice due to the potential for ink clogs in inkjet printers. Overall, the HP Smart Tank 5101 offers a cost-effective and user-friendly solution for home printing needs.
Disclosure: HP normally sends me printers on loan but due to difficulties in shipping tank printers back they asked that I hang onto it. This printer will be donated to my local school system. This was not a sponsored review nor did anyone review or approve the review before it was uploaded.