The HP Photosmart Premium Fax CQ521B is rated at 10.5ppm for black and 7.5ppm for colour in what's called ‘laser comparable’ mode and 34ppm and 32ppm in draft mode. Normal print, which is the default, falls between these modes in speed and quality, but no ratings are supplied.
Under test, our five-page black text test took 47s, giving a real-world speed of 6.4ppm, while the longer, 20-page document took 2:14, a speed of 9.0ppm. These are good for this class of inkjet all-in-one and the five-page, draft mode test gave a speed of 9.7ppm, the highest we saw from the CQ521B.
Duplex printing is quite slow and the 20-page document printed double-sided took 5:17 to complete, giving a speed of 3.8 sides per minute. Although slow, this is quicker than several of Canon's all-in-ones, such as the PIXMA MX885, which returned just 2.9 sides per minute.
A five-page copy from the ADF took 58s and a 10-sided, full duplex copy finished in 4:19, again held back by the duplex print speed. 15 x 10 cm photos took 33s from both memory card and PictBridge camera in normal print mode, increasing to 54s for a print from a PC in highest quality.
The printer produces only fair quality text. It looks heavy on the page and includes some fuzziness caused by ink bleed. Draft mode text is usable, but again we noticed glitches, such as split text lines from one pass of the head to the next.
Graphics colours are strong, and smooth, black text over the top of images is well registered. Colour copies come through with unusually good colour reproduction and colour photos are still among the best you'll see from an inkjet, with natural colours, plenty of detail and the ability to show strong primaries when needed.
The CQ521B uses five ink cartridges in a permanent head, with the photo black only used to improve photo tones. At the cheapest prices we could find for the consumables, page costs come out at 3.2p for ISO black and 8.1p for ISO colour. These are good, a penny or so per page better than similar Canon printers, for example.
The HP Photosmart Premium Fax CQ521B is a good all-in-one printer. It combines features from typical home and small business inkjets so you get, for example, an ADF and a comprehensive set of memory card slots. On top of this, though, you have both a duplex print engine and a duplex scanner, which is very unusual in a machine at this price. It may be slow, but the facility is there when you need it.