HP doesn’t claim high speeds for the printer, speccing it at 7ppm for black print and 4ppm for colour. Our five page black text document produced a speed of 5.8ppm and this rose to 6.8ppm on the 20-page document, which is close to the claim.
The five page black text and colour graphics text gave 2.2ppm, though, which is quite slow, and a single-page, colour copy from the flatbed took 50s.
15 x 10cm photos took between 1 minute 10 seconds and 1:14 to complete, good speeds. Unfortunately, pictures from both a Samsung Galaxy Mini Android phone and Apple iPad came through with broad, unprinted bands along their bottom edges. There’s no adjustment in either app that we could find to ensure borderless printing
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is about to take off in a big way to help connect phones and tablets to printers, but it’s a bit too early to be included in devices in this price range. This is a shame, since it would fit well with the sales angle HP is using for this machine.
Print quality is high for a printer in this price bracket. Black text is clean and, while not laser quality, is sharp and dense. Colours on plain paper are also solid, with no signs of dither patterns and a colour copy is surprisingly close to the original, with less fading of colours than we often see. Photo prints are natural and have plenty of detail. Dark colours are better reproduced than by many printers costing more.
The HP 301 black and tri-colour cartridges are available in two yields, though the high-yield versions give 480 and 330 pages, respectively, which is still not a lot. At the best prices we could find, we calculate page costs of 4.4p for black and 10.2p for colour pages, including 0.7p for paper. These costs are high and, to an extent, counter the low cost of the printer itself.
The strengths of the HP Deskjet 2540 lie in its ease of setup and use and the high print quality, given its low cost. It can be used easily with Android and iOS devices, though we were a bit perturbed by the bands at the bottom of photos.
Rivals, like the Canon PIXMA MX455 or the Epson Workforce WF-2530WF have their own strengths, with both, for instance, offering ADF and fax. Both are also noisier than this Deskjet, though, and the Canon has a very slow colour print. The Epson has a very slow ADF and slow colour print from mobiles.
The HP Deskjet 2540 is a stylish little all-in-one, aimed at the mobile generation, but needs to get its photo print sorted from both Android and iOS devices, if it’s to be a true companion to either.