HP Smart Tank 5101 Printer Review

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.

Gadget Pick: MakeID L1 Label Printer

I recently had the opportunity to try out the tiny MakeID L1 Label Printer. You can see my full review here on Amazon.

If you’ve ever used a Brother P-Touch printer, this device operates in a similar fashion except this one uses an app versus an on-device keyboard.

The printer itself is quite simple. It’s a basic thermal printer that prints in one color. It’s not designed for printing photographs, so it’s best to stick to clip art that you’ll find in the app. The ribbon with an adhesive backing is stored inside the printer. I used a white one that came with the printer, but there are other colors available.

The printer is equipped with a built-in battery, allowing it to operate wirelessly. It connects via Bluetooth to an iPhone or an Android device. The charge should last through a good organizational session, but you might want to plug it in if you’re planning an all-day project.

The app also offers the option to save your designs for future use. Even if you forget to save, the app keeps a log of everything that was printed, which is quite handy. However, it’s worth noting that the app doesn’t support barcodes or serialization.

Overall, I found the MakeID L1 Label Printer to be a useful tool for home use. While the printer itself is inexpensive the ribbons cost a bit more than I expected. In some cases you’ll pay more for ribbons on the L1 than you will on the P-Touch!

HP’s Sprocket Studio Plus Review: an in-home photo lab

In my latest video I review the new HP Sprocket Studio Plus (affiliate link), a compact photo printer that prints high-quality 4×6 photos that are very close to the digital prints you might get from a photo printing service.

What sets it apart is its use of dye sublimation technology. This is a departure from the typical inkjet technology and even from HP’s other Sprocket printers that utilize the Zinc standard.

The printer is priced at $149, and the cost per photo comes to about 44 cents. This cost estimate includes the special paper and the unique ribbons it requires. Because it uses a ribbon to print photos the consumable cost is much more predictable vs. an ink printer.

The printer is very compact. The paper tray can be removed and stored on top of the printer to reduce its footprint when not in use. And because it doesn’t use ink the printer won’t get clogged up if it’s left to sit for weeks or months. It should pick back up right where it left off.

Setting up the printer was straightforward. It does require the HP Sprocket App that runs on Android and iOS devices. Even though it operates over Wi-Fi it can’t be directly printed to without running the photos through the app first.

The app can pull photos from your phone’s gallery, Instagram, Facebook, and Google Photos. Printing a photo is as simple as selecting it in the app and hitting print. The entire process takes about 90 seconds, with the printer laying down colors layer by layer. The result? A nice, high-quality photo.

I printed several photos to gauge the printer’s quality. While the contrast wasn’t as deep as on my phone’s OLED display, the photos were still impressive especially when compared against similarly priced ink jet printers. As you’ll see in the video some details might appear softer when viewed up close, but for a 4×6 print, the quality is more than satisfactory.

The app offers some fun features, like creating photo collages. You can also add labels and text to your photos. There’s also a photo booth mode and an option for taking passport and ID photos.

The HP Sprocket Studio Plus is a good choice for those who love printing 4×6 photos. While it costs a little more than a photo lab print, having the convenience of printing similar quality photos at home might be appealing.

Disclosure: HP sent the printer to the channel free of charge however they did not sponsor this review, provide any additional compensation, or review or approve this review before it was posted.

Epson ET-2400 Low Cost EcoTank Printer Review

My latest video is a review of the Epson Ecotank ET-2400 all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. You can find it here at Best Buy on sale right now for only $179 (affiliate link).

Tank printers are often best for people who do a high volume of color printing and want to reduce their cost-per-page versus traditional cartridges. Epson says this printer can deliver 4,500 black and white pages on a single bottle of ink, or 7,500 color pages. The full set of bottles cost around $60 to replace and the printer has a set of windows in the front to indicate how much ink is left in tank.

In the past a tank printer like this would usually cost a lot more – generally in the hundreds of dollars. The reason is that Epson had to build profit into the price of the unit vs. subsidizing the entry cost in anticipation of ink cartridge purchases over the lifespan of the product.

But like other tank printers I’ve looked at in the past you don’t get much for features here. It can’t do automatic duplexing, it has minimal paper capacity (only 100 sheets), it lacks an auto document feeder, and the print engine is pretty bare bones and loud. It prints about 10 pagers per minute in standard quality but only does 5-7 per minute or so in the higher quality mode.

It’s not marketed as a photo printer but it can print photos with an acceptable level of quality. It will do 4×6 borderless prints but nothing larger than that.

All in at its current price point I think it’s a good deal especially as the cost per print is very low. But if you print at a low volume I think a laser printer is still the best option.

One thing I need to look into after hearing from viewers is the waste ink sponge consumable on the printer that apparently cannot be replaced by the user. Epson has a support page about this issue and it seems as though the user has to send the entire printer in for this service which to me looks a bit like overkill.