HP Envy Pro 6430 review: Stylish and quick, but consider your print costs
Quick verdict: HP’s home-friendly HP Envy Pro 6430 has a genuinely attractive design and prints well, but even the option of HP Instant Ink can’t quite remove the issues it may have with ongoing print costs.
- Nice design
- Good photo output
- Instant Ink options
- Ink costs or subscription costs might not make financial sense
- Doesn’t play nicely with some smartphones
Consumer-grade printers are often seen as being cheap, disposable and often pretty ugly little items because historically that's just what they were. You never had a home inkjet in your home that you wanted there; it existed because you had a print need, and you put up with a boxy look and terribly high ink costs as a price of having it.
HP's Envy Pro 6430 certainly tries hard to flip the perception of what a home printer should look like, and it even has a passable stab at making home inkjet printing "affordable"… but it's worth considering your real needs when properly comparing print costs, even with the option of HP's "Instant Ink" service.
- Easy on the eyes (for a printer)
- Lack of LCD is a mixed blessing
The HP Envy Pro 6430 is a low profile all-in-one printer that measures 432.5x361.1x174mm with a pleasant white plastic finish. It can't help but look like a printer – and that's what it is, along with the expected scanning and copying functions – but the rounded sides give it a certain degree of appeal, especially compared to more "tech" focused designs.
That's also helped by the fact that it doesn't feature any kind of status display screen. That means no fiddling around with tiny buttons or hard-to-read screens, with controls instead handled by a light-up touch panel on the front right-hand side of the extrusion that also accommodates the paper tray.
From a design perspective, this is quite cool because it means HP hasn't had to cut out a space for a screen, but it also means that you're rather more constrained in the details that the HP Envy Pro 6430 will give you as it's going. If something goes wrong, your computer or other print source device may tell you, but beyond some very simple pictograms, the HP Envy Pro 6430 cannot.
- Moderate speed printing
- Good photo output
- HP Instant Ink option could be good for photo printing fanatics
Many printer manufacturers get rather hyperbolic when it comes to claimed print speeds. It sounds great when you're comparing but can be rather crushing when it comes time to print and you realise that reality can be substantially slower.
HP plays a fairly straight bat here, claiming moderate print speeds of just 10ppm for black and white pages or 7ppm for colour. In my tests, it ran slightly slower than those estimates for a plain black full coverage page. It ran at around 8ppm with the first page emerging after 15 seconds over a Wi-Fi connection, but that's within striking range. Draft coverage is decent, and you can easily speed up your printing needs that way.
Photo printing was considerably slower, and not without a few hassles. In a direct connection sense, I was able to print a standard glossy 6x4 photo in exactly 60 seconds, but then I tried printing from an iPhone. The HP Envy Pro 6430 was detected by the iPhone as a print destination, so I selected my photo, hit print and then… nothing.
Nothing at all. No photos emerged, and to make matters worse, I then found I couldn't print from any other device either. The print queue insisted it was empty, but it wouldn't take on or cover any other print jobs. In the end, nothing short of a complete reboot of both the printer and the iPhone would restore it to working condition.
The solution, it turned out, was to install HP's existing HP Smart iOS app, which then turns up as a print option within the iPhone's photo app. That worked, producing photos in that same minute time frame, but it's far less than ideal for HP's products to work this way.
When it comes to the ink costs of the HP Envy Pro 6430, it's a somewhat complicated picture. If you're a traditionalist, you can opt for replacement ink cartridges, with a 120-page black cartridge running about $28, or around 23c per page. Replacement colour cartridges with a 100-page yield run around $27, or a similar 23c per page print cost depending on precise coverage needs.
However, like many of HP's current and recent inkjet range, the HP Envy Pro 6430 can also use HP's "Instant Ink" subscription ink service. This is a consumer-grade print subscription service where you pay for a set number of prints per month, and HP ships you cartridges out to fill those needs well before your existing cartridges report they're going to run out. Doing so does require your HP Envy Pro 6430 to be connected to the Internet because it's got to tell HP on an ongoing basis how many pages you've actually printed as well as the status of your ink cartridges.
Here's the monthly pricing for HP Instant Ink in Australia:
|Pages Per Month||Monthly Cost||Effective cost per page|
All of those figures above presume you'll print up to your total limit every month, but outside your two-month trial period, you'll be charged the same for your chosen plan limit whether you've printed your entire quota or no pages at all.
Is that good value? It very much depends not only on how much you print, but also on the types of documents you choose to output. The key factor to remember here is that HP Instant Ink only thinks in terms of "pages", not of ink use.
Buy standard cartridges and you can use them whenever you like – or at least until the ink dries up – but HP's Instant Ink works on a monthly schedule and counts everything you print as a page, whether it's a 4x6 photo, a text document or even a paper jam.
There's an obvious convenience play here that may appeal to those who don't want to order fresh cartridges themselves, but it also means that it's absolutely going to be the best value if you want to print a whole lot of A4-sized photos rather than standard A4 documents.
It's an almost split bet for 4x6 photos, with (for example) the $9.99 subscription price pretty neatly matching the 10c/print you'll typically pay in most copy shops for a similar photo – although, for home printing, you also have to factor in the cost of the photo paper as well.
Like any other subscription service, you can cancel HP Instant Ink at any time but that won't magically unlock the cartridges sitting in your printer when you do. You'd then need to go out and buy some regular old cartridges to continue using the HP Envy Pro 6430.
Should you buy the HP Envy Pro 6430?
- Buy it if you print photos and don’t like the traditional cartridge-buying model.
- Don't buy it if you don’t want to handle printing control to HP.
As a printer, the HP Envy Pro 6430 very much fits the traditional consumer printing model in terms of costs, with a relatively low asking price and a profit model built around ink costs.
However, the option to use HP's Instant Ink subscription service does make it more complex to factor in overall value. For those who only print very intermittently and mostly print photos, there could be some real value in that subscription model, but the flip side of this is that you're handing over total print control to HP in return. An HP Instant Ink printer without an active subscription is just a big plastic brick until you pop some regular cartridges into it.
Pricing and availability
Images: Alex Kidman
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