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HP Tango X Review

The HP Tango X is a wireless colour printer which places a premium on style, fun, and convenience. First released in 2019, it’s now available to buy for around £180.

Verdict

The HP Tango X is a fun colour printer, capable of producing sharp text and images quickly. Not all of the features (namely the scan and copy function) add value, and high price, low yield cartridges mean it’s only really economical to run with a subscription.

Pros

  • Compact, wireless design
  • Low upfront price
  • Instant Ink plans offer value for money

Cons

  • No built-in scanner or copier
  • Scan and copy function of HP Smart app is variable

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £180
  • Prints over Wi-Fi
  • Colour inkjet printer
  • 5.9p-12.7p cost per page
  • 2.6p-3.9p cost per page via Instant Ink
  • HP Smart app (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)
  • Dimensions: 389 x 246 x 91 mm
  • Weight: 3.4kg

The HP Tango X is a fun and friendly wireless printer aimed at families and students. As it’s wireless, print commands are issued over Wi-Fi via platform-specific apps; Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices are supported.

It’s lightweight, folds away neatly, and is low on cable clutter. As it’s covered by the HP Instant Ink subscription plan, you’ll also be able to sign up for automatic deliveries of cartridge refills, so you’ll never have to worry about running out of ink. But with high running costs, is the HP Tango X worth the investment?

Related: Best Printers

HP Tango X Design – Looks great, but lacks features

The HP Tango X is a squat white oblong that comes wrapped in a fetching foldable linen cover, which serves as both an out-tray for your prints, and as a protective case for the printer when it’s not in use. Colourful striplights glow softly when the printer is in operation, and fade out of view when the job is done. Printers rarely look this stylish.

The plastic top cover flips back and acts as a paper tray, which can hold up to 50 sheets of A4 at a time. Underneath this sits a light grey reflective plastic cover which protects the printing mechanism; this is a spring-loaded cover that opens up with a gentle push, and is held in place by two mechanical props.

The HP Tango X takes both the HP 303 and HP 303XL-type carts – two of the standard-sized cartridges were included with the review kit I picked up.

As all of the commands are issued from your laptops, desktops, or mobile devices, there is no control panel on the HP Tango X, no USB port, no Ethernet port either. Setting everything up is a simple case of connecting your client devices to your home Wi-Fi network, and following the instructions.

On that note, while the box says that the HP Tango X will let you scan and copy, what this means is you can use the iOS and Android apps to act as ad-hoc scanners. In theory, this is a neat idea. In practice, results are barely passable. Scanned documents are sometimes so fuzzy that they are borderline illegible, which kind of defeats the point.

You’ll likely get much more enjoyment out of sending pictures taken on your phone, or stupid images downloaded from social media to the printer. The HP Tango X really is better suited to being a wireless meme machine than a serious home office copier/scanner. Voice assistant integration is geared towards family funtimes – the HP Printer Skill for Alexa lets you do things like print Sudoku grids, and colouring pages. The emphasis here is fun fun fun, not work.

Related: Best School Laptop

HP Tango X Performance – Speedy printing with costly cartridges

The HP Tango X promises to give you 11 pages of plain text per minute, and that’s more or less what we found in our tests; the printer spat out a five page document in 27.3 seconds (10.98ppm) while a 20-page document was done in 1 minute 49 seconds, which is 11.00ppm on the nose. A single full colour JPEG was run off in less than half a minute (29.7 seconds).

Text is generally very crisp – it’s a 4800 x 1200 dpi printer – although some slight smudging of bolded fonts was apparent on some of the pages, so take care if you’re doing big print runs. Photos were also of an excellent quality for a home printer, with skin tones looking natural, and synthetic colours looking well-saturated, but not overblown.

Working out how cheap the Tango X is to run is a little complicated. First, let’s look at the standard cartridge costs:

HP 303 Black HP 303 Tri-Color HP 303XL Black HP 303XL Tri-Color
Page yield 200 165 600 415
RRP £16.99 £20.99 £35.99 £40.99
Cost per page 8.4p 12.72p 5.99p 9.87p

Cartridge prices were taken from HP’s UK site and were correct at the time of writing; if you shop around, you can find cheaper deals, and you’ll probably want to, as those prices are wince-inducing, especially compared to Epson’s EcoTank bottles.

As well as selling cartridges outright, HP also offers Instant Ink, a monthly subscription service. This will see the printer tell HP when you’re low on ink, and automatically post new cartridges out to you. The subscription rates work out cheaper overall – equivalent to 3.9p and 2.6p per page – and make the HP Tango X cost-effective to run. On top of that, Instant Ink contracts are rolling, so you can cancel whenever’s convenient for you.

Short version: Get an Instant Ink subscription, unless you can scoop up a load of cartridges on the cheap during Black Friday.

Related: Best Student Laptop

Should you buy the HP Tango X?

The HP Tango X is a lot of fun, and, provided you sign up for an Instant Ink plan, or get a good deal on cartridges, is cheap to run. While the small profile and fancy design are nice plus points, it’s really only suitable for printing.

If your needs extend to scanning and copying, you are better off looking at a more traditional all-in-one, like the Epson ET-2720.

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