Last Updated on
Product Name: HP Tango
Product Description: A beauty of a printer with a compact design that fits in perfectly to a modern home
Features & design
Speed & quality
Value for money
A printer with a unique business model that will appeal to those who print photos at home
- Compact, quiet and versatile
- Great photos and print quality
- Free photo prints from your phone
- Expensive to buy compared to a normal printer
- Slow compared to a normal printer
- Not a great choice for “heavy” users
Two words never before used together: “interesting”, “printer”. Yet the HP Tango really is an interesting printer. And HP is making bold claims to accompany its release, including that you can print free photos for the life of the printer. What’s the catch?
HP Tango review: the catch(es)
There are actually four catches. One is that you can only get the free prints of photos taken on your phone; if you email existing photos to yourself, but print from the phone, then you’ll have to pay.
The second is that you’ll have to sign up to a paid-for HP’s Instant Ink plan. This involves paying a monthly fee, where HP will send you ink refills automatically when you need them. But this can be as little as £1.99 per month, so that’s hardly a terrible price to pay.
The third isn’t really a gotcha, but of course the “free prints” don’t include the photo paper. HP provides five 6 x 4in photo paper sheets in the box, but after
(There are two reasons to stick with HP paper though. One is longevity: the prints will last your lifetime. The second is guaranteed quality, although third-party paper can be very good.)
The final catch is that the “free” prints only cover sizes up to 7 x 5in, so don’t go thinking you can print 100 A4 photos of your family to give out this Christmas. Actually, don’t do that at all.
HP Tango review: quality of photo prints
The quality is excellent. Right up there with Photobox and its ilk. That’s despite HP using a four-colour process, with a pigmented black to accompany the three-colour cartridge.
My only criticism is that the printers aren’t borderless: on each of the photos I printed, one edge had a millimetre of
You don’t have to wait long either: two minutes at best quality for a 6x4in photo. That’s fine.
HP Tango review: secret skills
While the free photo prints are the headline-grabbing feature, that’s not the HP Tango’s only selling point. What I love about it
Because you can replace your bulky all-in-one printer, complete with scanner, with this tiny device. About the size of two hardback books, one on top of the other.
That’s because HP sees the Tango as a partner to your phone. Rather than physically scan a bank statement, say, you would snap it with the HP Smart app. It’s then clever enough to straighten out the image and either
You can also send a document to print from wherever you happen to be. That might be something you’ve just
One irritation, though: while the app integrates with Google Drive and Dropbox, you won’t be able to browse to a Word document or Google Doc and print it. Weirdly, the app only recognises JPEGs and PDFs. You can, of course, print directly to the printer from Google Docs etc.
Finally, if you own an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker then you can send verbal commands to the Tango too. These aren’t terribly sophisticated (“Echo, ask my printer to print today’s crossword”, “Alexa, ask my printer to print a colouring page from Crayola”) but I do like the one that tells it to print out lined paper.
You’ll be happy with the results too. The fact HP uses pigmented ink means that blacks come out strongly, and it had no problem with skew-
HP Tango review: should you buy it?
This is the first printer I’ve tested that breaks free from the old ways of thinking, and my only regret is that it’s still tethered to the wall via a power cable. A built-in battery, so that you could tuck it anywhere, would make it even better.
Also note that there’s no USB connection: this machine is 100% wireless, so when I say “tuck it anywhere” I mean “anywhere that has a good Wi-Fi connection”.
And if you’re a “heavy user”? Maybe not. The input tray only holds around 50 A4 sheets, so refilling that will quickly become irritating.
For everyone else, though, it’s seriously worth considering. Yes, it’s far more expensive than the £40 all-in-ones you’ll find in Tesco, and it only really makes sense if you sign up to the Instant Ink programme: the best deal I could find for replacement inks was £31 for a Value Pack, which includes photo paper.
But if one of HP’s Instant Ink options suits you then this makes an excellent replacement to the bulky, noisy all-in-one you’re probably using at the moment.
HP Tango vs Tango X: which to choose
Final choice: do you go for the plain HP Tango for £130 or the HP Tango X with a rather nice fabric cover for £180? I like the cover, not least because it helps to camoflauge the printer, but it ain’t worth £50.
HP Tango review: specifications
|Print resolution||4,800 x 1,200|
|Paper tray capacity||50 sheets (input – no output tray)|
|Monthly duty cycle||1,000 pages|
|Compatible cartridges||HP 303 (black and tri-colour)|
|Pages per minute (black and white, claimed)||Up to 11ppm (ISO), but note this is closer to 3-5pm in reality|
|Automatic document feeder||No|
|Dimensions (width x depth x height)||389 x 246 x 91mm (lid closed)|
Read this next: What’s the best photo printer?