For less than a third of the cost of an average fill-up, HP will sell you a Deskjet 1050A. A complete all-in-one for £25 must mean some real corner cutting, mustn't it? Basic, maybe, but for general home print, scan and copy tasks this little machine could be all you need.
As if to try and differentiate it from other budget printers, HP colours the machine in a light grey plastic, with just a hint of brown. Open the dark grey feed tray by folding it up off the machine's top surface and lift the lid to reveal a milk chocolate-coloured base to the flatbed scanner, which all helps to relieve what could be a plain machine. There's a chocolate keyline around the top of the printer, too [Hmm, edible printer bits - Ed].
To the left of the scanner lid is the simplest of control panels, with a single, illuminated power button and three, flexible plastic buttons to start black and colour jobs and to cancel a running task.
The front panel folds down in typical all-in-one fashion and a - surprisingly robust - moulded output tray slides forward, but not by as much as with most budget printers. The paper path moves straight from the back of the machine to the front, which is more akin to Epson's normal layout than to HP’s.
At the back are machine are two sockets, one for USB, which is the only data connection on the Deskjet 1050A, and the other a low-voltage connector for the black block power supply. HP continues to offer a separate PSU, when an integrated one would be a much neater solution. Other companies can do it, even on their budget printers, so cost can’t be the issue.
Fold down a flap inside the machine and the head carrier slides to a central position, where you can push in the twin ink cartridges, one black and the other tri-colour. This isn't as convenient as dropping them in from on top, but simplifies the design and helps cut costs. The cartridges are available in two capacities, with the extra, high-yield versions giving better economy.