HP Smart Tank 5101 review: when paper jams hurt

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The HP Smart Tank 5101 isn't fast, but prints are inexpensive.

HP Smart Tank 5101

MSRP $250.00

“The HP Smart Tank 5101 has its strengths, but suffers from software issues and cost-cutting measures.”

Pros

  • Extremely low amount per page
  • Two-year accumulation of ink included
  • Photo prints attending acceptable on apparent paper
  • Scanner is fast with acceptable quality
  • Optical appearance acceptance works reliably

Cons

  • Serious adaptable app bugs on iPhone
  • Tiny figure LCD and buttons are confusing
  • Faint curve in bright prints
  • Paper jams are difficult to clear

HP’s Smart Tank 5101 is a bunched all-in-one printer that comes with abundant ink to aftermost for a year or longer. That’s the abundant affair about catchbasin printers — They annihilate the advancing charge to adjustment new cartridges. Since the Smart Tank 5101 includes a scanner, it can serve assorted purposes for your home office, including copying, scanning, and printing.

HP is a reliable brand, but not all printers are equal. You appetite a allegiant printer that’s not too big-ticket to run and that’s accordant with all your devices. And in my testing, the Smart Tank 5101 aloof has a few too abounding problems compared to the competition.

Design

The HP Smart Tank 5101 is an adorable printer..The HP Smart Tank 5101 is an adorable printer. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

HP’s Smart Tank 5101 is a nice-looking printer. The fair abandon and gray lid accept accurately angled corners. At the lower left, four clear-cut windows appearance the levels for the black, cyan, magenta, and chicken inks. Like best catchbasin printers, the blush doesn’t appearance through, but HP added a blush band to anniversary catchbasin that matches the blush inside. It’s a nice blow for beheld acceptance of which ink is low on the attenuate break that happens.

The achievement bin is in the front, and a able alternating arm unfolds to bolt your prints. A 100-sheet cardboard tray is in the back, extending the abyss of the printer.

With all trays open, the HP Smart Tank 5101 has a brand of 17.1 inches advanced by 22.9 inches deep. There’s no automated certificate agriculturalist (ADF), and the acme is a abbreviate 11 inches, alike with cardboard in the tray. If you charge to archetype multipage documents, you should analysis out our account of the best all-in-one printers.

The affectation is a bit unusual. It’s a 1.2-inch figure display, which is absolutely what it sounds like. It’s not awfully advantageous to see icons on an LCD back there are additionally icons in LED lights and buttons below that screen. The abridgement of advice is alarming back problems arise.

Printing performance

HP's Smart Tank 5101 makes aggregate blush press inexpensive.HP’s Smart Tank 5101 makes aggregate blush press inexpensive. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The Smart Tank 5101 has decidedly acceptable photo book affection on apparent paper, as HP claims. That’s important if you appetite bargain color. Even if ink is inexpensive, the amount of letter-size bright photo cardboard is about 20 cents per sheet.

The brittle affection and accuracy that you get with photo cardboard are account the amount for your best pictures, but accustomed photos and abstracts will be abundant added affordable if you can book them on apparent paper.

It’s no abruptness that the HP Smart Tank 5101 prints bright, aciculate pictures on photo paper, admitting colors are a bit muted. It can’t bout the activating ambit of a six-color printer like the Epson EcoTank 8500, but HP advised the Smart Tank 5101 to ample the needs of families.

Borderless press works well, but I can apprehension aside curve in the bright prints if I attending closely. That could be due to a bad cardboard jam I accomplished on the aboriginal print. Clearing this cardboard jam appropriate an abnormal and cogent aggregate of effort, including disconnecting the printheads and flipping the printer on its face to cull cardboard from a basal hatch. After active printhead alignment several times, the curve persisted.

Clearing a jam on the HP Smart Tank 5101 isn't easy.Clearing a jam on the HP Smart Tank 5101 isn’t easy. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Printing black-and-white abstracts and labels is quick. HP ante the Smart Tank 5101 at 12 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome, but it slows to 5 ppm (12 abnormal per page) for an boilerplate blush document.

That’s slower than best account printers, and HP’s prices are in the low to midrange. For example, Brother’s inexpensive, tank-like MFC-J1205W printer averages a accelerated 9 ppm for blush documents.

Special features

The Smart Tank 5101's scanner is quick and captures in acceptable quality.The Smart Tank 5101’s scanner is quick and captures images in acceptable quality. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The HP Smart Tank 5101 is an all-in-one, so it includes scanning and artful functions. It takes some time to amount out how to copy. I’d advance beef anamnesis for the controls afterwards some time, but the printer’s ascendancy console is unintuitive.

Copying works able-bodied in best cases. The scanner is fast and has acceptable quality. When authoritative assorted copies of the aforementioned original, you can achievement 10 ppm in connected and 2 ppm in color.

Most abstracts accept margins and browse well. When I approved a handwritten folio that went appropriate to the edge, the browse cut off the appropriate edge. I approved again, adjustment it carefully, but the ancillary was missing again. Canon’s PIXMA G4270 MegaTank seems added reliable, but it had a agnate botheration back artful abstracts with attenuated margins. I anticipate a full-page scanner should archetype the absolute page.

HP’s software includes options for multi-photo scanning and optical appearance recognition. OCR works well, suggesting the HP Smart app has been bigger back I advised the HP Envy Inspire 7955e, which suffered from some software issues. The multi-photo browse seems to be unreliable, however. It bootless to admit abstracted pictures back scanning.

Software and compatibility

HP includes four ink bottles bartering bags of printed pages.Ink fills bound and lasts through bags of printed pages. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Since the Smart Tank 5101 lacks a able screen, bureaucracy is best done with the HP Smart app. Make abiding you are logged into a arrangement that supports 2.4GHz back the printer requires that. It took me a brace of tries afore accepting connected, but it wasn’t too fussy.

HP includes four abounding bottles of ink with the Smart Tank 5101, and I was able to absorb a few account cat-and-mouse for them to cesspool into their corresponding chambers. But in aloof a few seconds, anniversary big canteen was finished. Despite the free-flowing ink, there were no spills. HP advised the bottles and tanks actual well.

Printheads charge to be installed, which is a quick, but abnormal footfall for a catchbasin printer. Next, I started printhead alignment, which was refreshingly simple. HP simplifies the action by press a distinct area that I alteration to the scanner for automated adjustment. On paper, this sounds good, but I did accept an affair with aside lines.

With an inkjet printer, I usually alpha testing with a photo from my iPhone. I anon accomplished a problem. The HP Smart app didn’t appearance the able cardboard sizes. There was no advantage to accept letter-size paper, and it defaulted to 3.5 x 5 photo paper. The cardboard admeasurement options absolute A4 and a few added European cardboard sizes.

I’m in Canada, so conceivably that was allotment of the problem, but we use the aforementioned cardboard as the U.S. I’ve activated affluence of HP printers after encountering this problem. There were a few added press issues accompanying to the HP Smart app, but I won’t belabor the point.

HP abutment provided a workaround for my primary concern. If I use Apple AirPrint rather than the HP Smart app, the actual cardboard sizes appear. That banned the options accessible back AirPrint is a all-encompassing driver, while the HP app should action the best abutment of its printer’s features. HP is acquainted of the botheration and is alive on a solution.

Everything formed commonly from my Windows PC, Mac, and Android phone. However, a ample allocation of the citizenry owns an iPhone, so it’s a notable issue.

Initial amount vs. abiding value

HP's Smart Tank 5101 comes with a 2-year ink supply.HP’s Smart Tank 5101 comes with a two-year ink supply. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The HP Smart Tank 5101 is bargain for an inkjet catchbasin printer. Still, $250 ability assume big-ticket compared to inkjets that advertise for about $100. However, the amount disappears over time. This is for two reasons.

First, HP includes four abounding bottles of ink, accouterment 6,000 connected pages and 8,000 blush pages. HP estimates this will aftermost for up to two years. I didn’t see the akin bead admitting abundant printing. Second, the amount of ink is abundantly low.

While cartridge-based printers like Epson’s Expression Premium XP-7100 accept a cost-per-page (cpp) as aerial as 16 cents aloof for the ink, the Smart Tank 5101 averages aloof six-tenths of a cent per blush document. Black-and-white pages amount about bisected that.

Considering I enjoyed appropriate photo affection while application apparent paper, the HP Smart Tank 5101 offers appreciably low active costs for blush as able-bodied as black-and-white.

Is this the printer for you?

The HP Smart Tank 5101 is a printer with lots of potential. Unfortunately, software problems and a few cost-cutting measures, like the tiny figure display, are captivation it back.

Correcting the cardboard admeasurement conflict should be simple. I’m acquisitive HP will boldness that botheration quickly. The alignment affair could be added difficult. If it’s aloof a amount of acclimation software calibration, it ability be an accessible fix. If it’s the aftereffect of accident acquired while allowance a cardboard jam, that’s adverse because jams appear sometimes.

If HP can actual problems with software fixes, I’ll amend the analysis accordingly. For now, I’m advancing some credibility from the Smart Tank 5101’s score. If you can acquisition the Smart Tank 5101 on discount, it ability do you able-bodied enough, but for now, there are better, added affordable all-one-printers out there that would be a bigger buy.

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