At the end of 2019, HP made a big decision. This giant manufacturer finally decided to join Epson and Canon to compete in the bulk-ink printer market as it rolled out two products dubbed Smart Tank Plus. These printers boast ink reservoirs that give more page yields, which means you can take advantage of lower running costs.
The HP Smart Tank Plus 551 and HP Smart Tank Plus 651 are specially made for home office or small business. But one printer is more affordable than another, so I’m going to focus on the cheaper one—the Plus 551. This machine seems ideal to help you grow the business but it’s just too soon for a verdict. Scroll through the following review and be inspired.
The Smaller, the Better
Devices are getting smaller from time to time and printers are no exception. If you prefer a small printer to a bulky one, the Plus 551 is surely for you. It offers small yet robust construction so it can match your work pace. Measuring 6.2 inches high by 17.6 inches wide by 14.6 inches deep, this machine can fit any given space. The Plus 551 is slightly lighter than its sibling as it weighs around 11.3 pounds.
At first, I wondered how HP can construct this bulk-in printer in such a lean design. But then I found that the absence of an auto document feeder brings significant reduction to its weight as well as dimension. And yet, this device has to lose duplexing functionality which means a lot to support productivity.
Getting back to the design, the Plus 551 boasts a sleek and stylish look. It only features a scanner bed that brings a simpler and cleaner look at the top of the device. An input tray extends upward at the back, allowing you to load paper easily.
This printer is also equipped with a control panel consisting of several function buttons and a 2-inch non-touchscreen monochrome display. Much like its sibling, the Plus 551 allows you to check on ink levels without opening the lid. Four ink reservoirs that stick out from the body lets you monitor consumables easily. Not to mention it also features a built-in web server for ink monitoring.
HP Smart Tank Plus 551 Functionality and Average Print Speed
The Smart Tank Plus 551 is engineered as business-oriented all in one printer that lets you print, copy, and scan from one device. Get to know more about printing, copying, and scanning specs so you can decide if this machine meets your requirements.
1. Print, copy, scan specs
This home office printer is among HP’s inkjet printers that feature HP thermal inkjet technology. I did not find anything special so far, but I should admit that it is capable of delivering high-quality printing. It supports up to 4800 x 1200 printing resolutions so you can enjoy quite excellent detail with minimum graininess either for graphics or photos.
Copying specs are just fine, so I don’t have much to deliver in this aspect. It features document enlargement up to 400% and document reduction to 25% with a maximum rate of 99 copies. Copying resolution up to 600 dpi gives you pretty clear results. Scanning capability is also standard as it supports 1200 x 1200 optical resolutions with the CIS scan element.
2. Document and media handling
Being a business-oriented printer, the Plus 551 is not armed with adequate paper tray capacity. It is equipped with 100-sheet input tray capacity which can be configured to hold 3 in x 5 in sheets up to legal sizes. Or else, it can also handle up to 10 envelopes (no.10) or 30 sheets of card stock paper. The output tray that extends from the bottom of the printer can hold up to 30 sheets. Neither ADF nor bypass tray is available.
HP rates its monthly duty cycle up to 1,000 pages with recommended monthly volume ranges from 200 up to 500 pages. This, however, is rather low for a business printer especially if you need to print a lot of documents.
Well, let’s move to media type and size. The Plus 551 manages to handle a variety of media sizes ranging from 3 in x 5 in up to legal size. The adjustable tray allows you to print on several media types including glossy paper, cards, envelopes, plain paper, matte paper, and photo paper.
3. Print speed and performance
I didn’t expect too much from the speed and performance of this entry-level inkjet printer. HP rates this machine at 11 pages per minute, which is slower than Canon’s G6020 at a similar price. Though the speed varies according to the type of document, overall performance is pretty good. At least, HP’s Plus 551 is not the slowest in its class.
Its copy and scan performance are not excellent either. The copy speed reaches 10 pages per minute for mono and 2 pages per minute for color. Meanwhile, the machine can scan up to 5 pages per minute for A4 paper size.
HP Smart Tank Plus 551 Output Quality
Today’s inkjet printers are able to deliver good print quality and the Plus 551 is no exception. The print result is quite similar to its sibling, the Plus 651. I could see good-looking text with well-shaped characters, though it needed to struggle for smaller fonts. But overall, this print quality is acceptable for business documents. When I tried with graphics and charts, banding in gradient and dark fills is hardly visible.
How about photo results? I could say that the Plus 551 is reliable for photo printing. The photos look bright with accurate and rich colors. In addition, I saw minimum graininess as well as amazing detail that makes it a good choice for flyers, leaflets, or brochures. However, this image quality is not as outstanding as 5 or 6-ink printers.
Low Running Cost, Low Budget
Unlike most inkjet printers with standard cartridges, the Smart Tank Plus 551 boasts low running costs. Thanks to ink reservoirs that allow the machine to yield more pages, which means you can save a lot of cash for printing tasks. Not to mention it features spill-free bottles that let you refill the reservoirs effortlessly.
As with its sibling, the Plus 551 uses four ink tanks consisting of three integrated color inks plus one separated reservoir for black ink. The HP 31 is the compatible color ink choice for high-quality output. Meanwhile, HP 32XL Black high-yield is used to deliver up to 6,000 pages.
The Smart Tank Plus is undeniably inexpensive to use. It costs around 0.3 cents per page for black and 0.9 cents for color. This figure is significantly lower than other inkjet printers with standard cartridges. Especially when you have a lot of documents to handle, this printer helps you cut the company’s expenditure. Just make sure to fulfill the recommended monthly volume to get a better value.
Typical Connectivity, Myriad Software
The Plus 551 features standard connectivity consisting of Wireless Direct and wireless networking. It also features Bluetooth Low Energy as well as USB 2.0. Much like its sibling, this printer lacks Ethernet connectivity. But you can take advantage of mobile printing connectivity that includes HP ePrint, Mopria, Google Cloud Print, and AirPrint.
This printer comes with a number of software bundles to improve your experience. You can enjoy HP Photo Creations to enhance or create document types from photos or scans. It also supports HP Update that lets you update printer’s software. HP Smart app is also available to work with compatible devices including iOS and Android.
HP Smart Tank Plus 551 Pros vs Cons
The Smart Tank Plus 551 is specially designed to support home-based office and small business. It offers neither high volume nor high paper capacity, but it comes with reliable print quality. If you need to make a quick decision, make sure you read the following pros and cons.
HP Smart Tank Plus 551 Pros
- Small and stylish design
This printer comes with small yet sturdy construction to ensure your smooth printing tasks. It consumes very little space, so locating this printer never gives you a headache. You can also take advantage of its sleek and stylish look to make a statement in the office.
- Reliable output quality
Dependable print quality is what you need to grow business. You can print invoices, agreements or other professional documents with legible and sharp text. The Plus 551 inkjet printer manages to deliver high-quality printing for text, graphics, and photos. Accurate and bright colors with minimum graininess make your photos look stand out.
- Low running cost
Say farewell to the expensive running cost as Smart Tank Plus is there to save your cash. This feature enables the machine to yield more pages—the more pages, the lower the cents you pay. The printer costs less than 1 cent per page, allowing you to allocate the budget for other sectors. Not to mention it also features spill-free bottles to offer a hassle-free tank refill.
HP Smart Tank Plus 551 Cons
- Non-auto duplexing
Again and again, the absence of the duplexing feature makes it left behind. Unlike HP Smart Tank Plus 651, this printer is not equipped with an auto document feeder which can improve productivity. You will need to flip the pages manually whenever you need to print 2-sided pages.
- Low monthly volume
As a business-oriented printer, this machine does not have an adequate monthly volume. HP rates the monthly volume at 200 to 500 pages, which is considered low for business. Some inkjet printers at a similar price offer a higher volume up to 1000 pages per month.
- Expensive price
Compared to the features and performance. The cost that seems higher than the feature makes this printer less attractive. But when you consider its low running cost, the initial cost may not be a big deal.
The HP Smart Tank Plus 551 is a wireless inkjet printer for small business and home-based offices. It boasts dependable print quality for business documents as well as the low running costs to cut expenditure. And yet, this printer is more expensive than offered features so you must prepare a lot of money.
Do you need to make a decision? Let me give you some hints. If you are looking for a stylish printer to deliver a smooth print result, the Plus 551 is a good bet. But if you are on a tight budget and need one with auto-duplex functionality, I recommend you to find another printer device at a lower price.