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Which ink program saves you the most?

When you purchase and install an HP printer, the setup routine may require you to make certain choices depending on the printer model. Most notable are whether to enroll in the HP Instant Ink plan and, for printers that support HP Plus, whether to install as an HP Plus device. After installation, you may also be faced with several choices of productivity tools and drivers, most of which are not self-explanatory. It’s easy to go wrong, especially since (as an HP representative told me) the company is in the midst of a period of large-scale transition as it deploys and evolves HP Plus. Some details are still changing and some difficult points are almost inevitable, as we have seen in recent testing of some HP Plus printers. This article will try to explain what you need to know to make setup a little easier.

All the many parts

Since HP’s various plans and tools are interrelated, it helps to know a bit more about each one before going into specifics. So let’s start with a quick overview:

HP Instant Ink is an ink subscription plan.

HP Plus (sometimes referred to as HP +) is not an ink subscription plan, but if you sign up for it, you can enjoy Instant Ink for six months at no cost and then choose to continue after the free period. You’ll also get other benefits, including extended warranty and additional features. For laser printers, any given model that supports HP Plus, such as the HP LaserJet M234dwe MFP, must be installed as an HP Plus printer. For supported ink jets including HP Envy 6055e and HP OfficeJet 8035e, you can choose during installation to configure the printer with HP Plus or not.

HP smart has two components for a given device. The first is an application that runs on your Windows PC, Mac, Android or iOS device, and must be installed to use the printer. A second component lives online and integrates so easily that you can’t always tell when you’re working in the cloud.

As for Conductors, if your inkjet printer supports HP Plus but you choose not to configure it for the program, the Windows setup routine will install a standard driver with the port selection set to match the connection you are using. you use. However, HP Smart also works as a driver. And if you go for HP Plus when setting up your inkjet, or if you install a LaserJet printer with HP Plus, HP Smart will also appear as a driver in the Windows Printers & Scanners list when you choose Settings. > Peripherals> Printers and scanners. The HP Smart app also offers more options for some features than the standard drivers and is the HP recommended choice.

Smart advance is a collection of productivity tools that HP says is now available for any printer that supports HP Plus, whether you install the printer to take advantage of HP Plus or not.

A closer look: HP Instant Ink

IIf you sign up for the Instant Ink subscription service, you will pay a monthly fee for printing a given number of pages, with a choice of levels. Price is subject to change, but at the time of writing levels start at $ 1.99 per month for laser toner and 99 cents per month for ink. The cost includes delivery and recycling.

HP says you can save up to 50% by using Instant Ink rather than buying ink or toner cartridges as needed. Your actual savings will depend on how close you come to printing your full page allocation without exceeding that amount. If you go over the number in a given month, each additional 10-15 page set (depending on plan) costs $ 1. It helps that unused pages carry over to the next month, up to three months for ink jets and two months for toner, but once you hit the limit you lose any extra pages you paid for and left. have not used. Also note that the number of pages does not distinguish between black and color pages, so the higher the proportion of color pages you print, the more likely you are to save money with Instant Ink.

Learn more about HP Plus

HP laser printers either come with HP Plus as a configuration requirement or don’t have HP Plus support at all, so you effectively choose to install with HP Plus when choosing a printer. In contrast, inkjet printers that support HP Plus give you the option during setup. HP says it plans to add the option to opt for an additional time after the initial setup, however, depending on when you’re reading this, you may have more time to decide.

What binds HP Plus to HP Instant Ink is that when you purchase an HP Plus printer you are entitled to a six-month Instant Ink subscription only if you install the printer for HP Plus. Some printers also come with a separate introductory Instant Ink subscription for a certain number of months, which you can enjoy whether or not you install the printer as an HP Plus device.

What is the cost of using HP Plus? You must agree to use only genuine HP ink or toner cartridges recognized by the printer by the chips in the cartridges. It doesn’t commit you to staying with Instant Ink after the first six months, but it does commit you to avoiding third-party cartridges, which makes HP Plus a classic example of razor and blade marketing.

Six months of free ink isn’t the only HP Plus benefit. Registration also extends your warranty by one year and adds features you won’t get without it. For example, HP Plus members and non-members can print via the cloud using the HP Smart app and take advantage of cloud-based faxing. For cloud printing, however, HP Plus adds a setting for private printing: the ability to send a print job from anywhere, but print it only when you are near the home. device and able to retrieve the document before anyone else can read it. .

Other features you get with HP Plus include an intelligent cloud dashboard to manage the printer, security monitoring features, a cloud resiliency capability which HP says ensures print jobs are still delivered and two years of Smart Advance access (more information on Smart Advance below). HP also says it invests in forest protection and management when you sign up for HP Plus.

HP Smart and drivers

As mentioned above, HP Smart has two components for any given device: the local app and the cloud features it connects to. These integrate seamlessly, so you can’t always know when you’re working in the cloud, but the cloud component is only available if you set up an account online, and some features are only available if you sign up for HP Plus. Additionally, if you are installing your printer as an HP Plus device, the setup routine will add an HP Smart Printing driver choice, which is part of the HP Smart application, to the Windows Printers & Scanners dialog box.

In our testing with HP Plus printers on our standard Windows test bench, we noticed more than one driver installed after setting up the printer. When we tested the OfficeJet Pro 8035e using an Ethernet connection during setup, for example, we saw what appeared to be a standard Windows driver installed for the LAN connection with the HP Smart Printing driver. Likewise, when we tested printers connected to our network over Wi-Fi during setup, we found an instance of a standard driver installed for a Wi-Fi port. We also noted that connecting a USB cable after installation automatically added a second instance of the standard Windows driver, with the new addition installed for the USB port.

Security setting and status report

You can print using any of these drivers, but the company recommends using HP Smart. It is automatically installed when you choose HP Plus during setup and is required to take advantage of some features not included in standard drivers. For print quality, for example, the standard driver of the OfficeJet Pro 8035e lets you choose between Draft, Normal, and Best. The HP Smart driver adds EconoMode and Maximum DPI.

Smart advance

We’re not quite done yet: HP insists that Smart Advance is not a subscription service, but once you go past an initial two-year period, you have to pay to continue the service. ‘use, then you might as well consider it as one. According to HP, all printers that support HP Plus get free Smart Advance access for the first two years, whether or not you sign up for HP Plus. The company also states that after one year and 11 months you will receive a notification that your free trial is about to end and you will have the option to continue paying a monthly fee. Prices are not available at the time of this writing.

Features added by Smart Advance include scanning multiple items with automatic boundary detection and saving each item to individual files; scan books with automatic image correction to flatten pages, then save all scanned pages as one file; a self-healing function that removes bothersome marks and punctures; and the ability to apply OCR to save scans as searchable PDF, TXT and DOCX files.

Other Tools

Whether you need or can use other productivity tools will vary depending on the printer. But don’t be surprised if you have to download some apps after the initial setup or just find some on the HP site that you might prefer than the ones that are installed automatically. After setting up the OfficeJet Pro 8035e, for example, and trying to initiate a scan from the AIO front panel, we got a message on the printer’s touchscreen that we needed to download additional software. , with instructions on where to find it and how to set it up. Before we were done, we were left with several additional tools including HP Scan as an additional choice for scanning.

Finally, critical information. If the printer you are installing has a USB port, not connect a USB cable until setup is complete (if applicable). At the time of this writing, neither the Quick Start Guides nor the HP installation routines indicate that connecting the cable can cause problems during setup. The company says it plans to fix this, but whether or not you see a warning, if you plan to print using a USB connection, do not connect the cable until setup is complete. initial.

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