The HP Smart Tank Plus 651 Wireless — The Complete Review

Anyone who’s used HP printers knows that they are extremely easy to use and built to last. They however come in all sizes and specifications. As such, it may be hard to pinpoint one from the crowd.

This model is no more available and it is replaced with With HP Smart Tank Plus 655

Well, if you’re looking for one whose cost-per-print is exceptionally low, one choice would be the recently released HP Smart Tank Plus 651 Wireless. Is it worth the buy? — Read on to find out.

In a Nutshell, Here’s All You Need to Know:

The Smart Tank Plus 651’s main selling feature is its incredibly cheap ink costs. Apart from that, you could want to buy (or not buy) depending on the following factors:

Pros:
  • Running costs are extremely low.
  • The print quality is excellent.
  • It has a small footprint.
Cons
  • Nonduplexing ADF and print engine
  • Ink bottles not keyed to corresponding onboard tanks

Choosing The HP Smart Tank Plus 651 Wireless

Needless to say, picking a printer is not as easy as looking at its pros and cons. As such, this is an all-in-one review. Note that the HP Smart Tank Plus 651 Wireless goes for € 450 and has marked HP’s first entry into the bulk-ink AIO printer industry, joining Epson and Canon.

The Plus 651, like the EcoTank and MegaTank models, prints well for its incredibly cheap running costs and comes with the added benefit of taking up very little space.

Features of The HP Smart Tank Plus 651 Wireless

• Stylish and Compact

The Smart Tank Plus 651 is the flagship of Smart Tank Plus. This is a new bulk-ink brand with two products with the other being The 551. It is also a Smart Tank Plus AIO that is €50 cheaper, but you’ll lose the automatic document feeder (ADF). Besides this, you’ll also lose a few other important but, depending on your application, time- and tedium-saving capabilities that I’ll explain shortly.

With dimensions of 7.8 by 7.7 by 14.7 inches (HWD) and a weight of 13.6 pounds, the Plus 651 is one of the smallest and lightest multifunction bulk-ink machines. It ranks first in this light among its bulk-ink competitors (including the aforementioned Epson ET-4760, as well as the Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank and the Canon Pixma G4210 MegaTank AIO).

• Paper Input Capacity

The ET-4760 has a paper input capacity of 150 sheets, which is 150 sheets more than the Plus 651, and a monthly print volume of 800 pages. Besides this, when compared to the Plus 651, the MFC-J6945DW has a paper capacity of 500 sheets (from three different sources). It also has a recommended monthly print volume of 1,000 pages. In other words, regardless of how capacity and volume figures are calculated, the Smart Tank Plus 651 lags below its most recent bulk-ink competitors.

Unlike its Plus 551 sister, the Plus 651 has a 35-sheet ADF. However, unlike the MFC-J6945DW (which has a 50-sheet feeder) and the ET-4760 (which has a 30-sheet feeder), the Plus 651’s ADF is manual-duplexing. This means that you must manually flip the stack of originals to scan or copy both sides of two-sided multipage documents, rather than having the printer do it for you.

On the other hand, the G4210 is also manual-duplexing. Additionally, the bulk-ink Plus 651 and Canon G Series Pixma cannot automatically flip and print two-sided sheets. From the Plus 651’s 2.2-inch monochrome touch-screen control panel, you may configure and conduct other walkup operations. These include making copies, scanning to or printing from network drives or your favourite cloud sites, monitoring use, and generating various types of reports.

The Plus 651 is also controlled and configured via its embedded web server, as are most business-oriented printers and AIOs nowadays. One 100-sheet tray rises upward and outward from the back of the printer for paper handling. The tray can also carry up to 30 sheets of card stock paper or label media, or 10 No. 10 envelopes. Although HP hasn’t specified a maximum monthly duty cycle for this AIO, its recommended monthly print volume is 500 pages, which is relatively low when compared to some competing machines.

HP SUPERTANK PRINTER

• Connectivity, Software, and Setup

The Plus 651 somewhat requires a different setup than EcoTank brand models such as the ET-4760 as well as other recent Canon MegaTank machines, like the G6020 and the G5020. Epson’s EcoTank printers and AIOs come virtually ready to add ink and go; simply fill the reservoirs and print.

On the other hand, you must install the printheads on older MegaTank and now Smart Tank Plus equipment. This procedure is quite similar to replacing the ink cartridges on Canon Pixma and HP Envy printers. The four process colour printheads (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, or CMYK) are housed in two cartridges: one for black ink and another for the other three. However, getting to the carriage that contains the printheads can be difficult in this case—especially if you don’t pay attention to the documentation before and throughout the procedure.

The printhead carriage is hidden behind and beneath the control panel and scanner bed. This makes it difficult to view and access. There is also an excessive quantity of packing material, including multiple cardboard spacers and a plastic plug-like gadget that is neither intuitive nor easy to remove. Typically, I zip through the setup routine, but I found myself halting at this point in the process, feeling a little stuck.

As such, I had to go back and pay close attention to the manual. What’s my point? I’ve set up hundreds of printers and AIOs over the years, and while reading the manual is vital, it’s been a long time since I’ve encountered a machine that took this much of my attention. Nonetheless, with some time and careful attention to the task at hand, I was able to complete the printhead installation.

The next step was to fill the reservoirs with ink, which is a simple process. However, when I got to the third ink colour, I realized that while these easy-to-open-and-pour bottles were mess-free, they were not keyed to their appropriate receptacles. Moreover, as I was ready to fill the yellow receptacle with the cyan ink bottle, I realized there was no safeguard to ensure I didn’t mistakenly pour the wrong coloured ink into a mismatched reservoir.

It’s, therefore, crucial to pay attention, which is always a good idea, but it’s more necessary with the properly keyed failsafe ink bottles and reservoirs integrated into the EcoTank and MegaTank refill components.

HP’s Smart Printer app is included in the downloadable software bundle, and it appears and functions the same way it does on most operating systems and environments, including Android mobile devices, iOS ( iPads, iPhones, iPods, and so on) Windows, and macOS. HP Photo Creations features a library of templates for the creation of a variety of documents from images or scans taken with your smartphone or the Plus 651’s scanner, as well as HP Update for updating the software and the machine’s hardware.

When it comes to connectivity, you have the option of a USB 2.0, the more stable dual-band Wi-Fi that supports both wireless networking and Wireless Direct (HP’s version of Wi-Fi Direct), and Bluetooth LE (Low Energy). Moreover, 3rd party connectivity is available on HP’s ePrint (Android and iOS), Apple’s AirPrint, and Mopria.

• Print Speeds

The HP Plus 651 prints at 11 pages per minute (ppm). The Canon G4210, on the other hand, only has an 8.8ppm rating. I used a USB connection to test the Plus 651 on our regular Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Professional.

Associated Content: See How We Put Printers Through Their Paces.

I measured the Plus 651 at 10.5ppm while printing our 12-page Microsoft Word text document, which is somewhat slower than its 11ppm rate. This is roughly 5.5ppm slower than the ET-4760 and slightly about 8ppm slower than the MFC-J6945DW. It is also just slightly less than 2ppm faster than the G4210.

After that, I timed the Plus 651 as it produced our collection of Adobe Acrobat business documents, Excel spreadsheets with associated graphics, and PowerPoint handouts with business-level graphics and colourful fonts in various sizes. I then added these results to the ones from printing the 12-page text document in the previous test to get a 5.1ppm score.

That score is significantly lower than the ET-4760 and MFC-J6945DW, however, it is marginally faster than the G4210. In the end, the Plus 651, like many other bulk-ink AIOs, isn’t a screamer. If one of your top priorities for your future printer is quick output, you should seek elsewhere.

• Dependable Output Quality

The skill of producing good-looking, detailed, and precisely coloured output from inkjet printers has been perfected by today’s inkjet printer manufacturers. The case is no different from the Smart Tank Plus 651. At all sizes down to roughly 4 points, my test text pages produced well-shaped and very legible type, which is more than adequate for most corporate applications.

In terms of corporate graphics, I saw some little banding in some of the dark and gradient fills in our test papers, but photographs had more-than-acceptable quality, minimum graininess, and accurate and brilliant colours. Conclusively, I have no issues with the Plus 651’s output.

• Exceptionally Low Running Costs for Bulk Ink

At roughly 0.3 cents for black pages and 0.9 cents for colour pages, the Smart Tank Plus per-page ink pricing is comparable to both Canon’s MegaTank and Epson’s EcoTank running expenses. These rates are around 2.5 cents cheaper than HP’s Instant Ink cost per page, but take in mind that Smart Tank Plus machines can cost up to four or five times as much as their non-bulk-ink counterparts. It’s crucial, though, that your print and copy volume is high enough to justify the initial hardware expenditure and the thousands of pages of ink provided in the box.

Following this, that’s enough ink to print 6,000 monochrome pages or 8,000 colour pages, or two years’ worth of ink, according to HP. Using the company’s arithmetic, that works out to around 500 black pages per month or the suggested monthly print volume for this AIO. However, like with any bulk-ink printer, the more you print, the more money you save on per-page ink expenses, and 500 pages is more of a reasonable starting point than an endpoint for this type of expenditure.

Wind Up — A Successful First Attempt: Worth It or Not?

HP looks to have made the similar feature-to-ink-cost miscalculation as Epson and Canon did with their initial bulk-ink products. This is because if you spend four or five times the real cost of the hardware to save money on ink, it’s safe to assume you’ll be printing hundreds, if not thousands, of pages.

As such, I can accurately say that the objective of investing upfront to acquire cheaper ongoing ownership expenses is lost when the machine is stripped of features, capacity, and volume prowess. Epson and Canon’s latest bulk-ink versions (most notably the Editors’ Choice ET-4760) deliver greater overall value by beefing up features, capacity, speed, and volume.

That leads to the conclusion that the HP Smart Tank Plus 651 is a good printer, but it would be much more appealing if the list price were reduced.

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