Review : HP Photosmart Plus B210a

This past weekend I upgraded my Mother-in-law’s home printer. I am normally not one to put a review out on a home printer but I was very surprised by this one, it’s ease or use and capabilities.
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Installation:
The printer comes in what looks like a reusable grocery bag then styrofoam, then the cardboard box. HP lists this as their Eco packaging. I am glad they went with the bag but right beside non biodegradable styrofoam seems like a weird choice. Once the printer is out of its bag it is as easy as plugging it in. You do have to remove the obligatory plastic covering and tape pieces keeping compartments closed but that is quick. All told less than 5 minutes.
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Score: 3.5/5
Initial configuration:
Once powered on the large iPhone-esque display comes to life. A very user friendly wizard begins showing how to install the in cartridges and even a animated graphic on installing paper. The printer asked for how you would connect. We bought this specifically for the wifi which it found our linksys access point without problem. As soon as it was connected we also were told it needed an update. The printer went online and downloaded the update and installed itself to activate the webprint functions. Next we were told to add paper. My mother-in-law was very happy the videos were clear and even showed what side was up for photo paper. Then the ink cartridges, it takes the normal 4 color cartridges and the graphic on the inside of the unit is self explanatory for install. Since this is the first set, I can comment on life of the ink but we did look up replacements and they seem on target or less. The three color was less than $25 on amazon with another ~$10 for black. Once the printer was done the wizard it took about 4 minutes to have the install finished. Overall extremely easy, it also printed out a test sheet and then one on instructions to create a email address for the printer. The screen the. Said to install the provided cd on the computer to print.
Score 4.5/5
Computer install
We were using a NetBook without a cd so I went to the hp.com website to download the 4 Gb full driver set. There were no instructions for what to do if you didn’t have a cd drive. Including a USB drive instead of cd would be a nice modernization. The software installed easily on windows 7 and added 4 new icons to the desktop. The only two of use were the scanner all that is very used friendly and the config app. The config app opens after install and finds the printer over wifi without knowing the ip address. The next part was the least user friendly part. You follow the printed document to enable webprint. Go to the website and login either using a new hpeprint.com account or an existing snapfish account. Then enter the code provided. We had to reset some passwords since she already had a snapfish account but never uses it. We are then prompted to create a username @hpeprint.com email address for the printer. This ran smoothly and being able to simply email the printer from outside the house is handy.
Score : 3/5
Mobile access
The printer is compatible with the HP ePrint Home and Biz app for the iPhone. The app is a free download and once you log in you can find the printer over wifi. You will have to turn on the discovery on the printer but the app shows easy pictures. I can then print directly from my phone for websites, pictures or emails using the native print options. A little more user friendly videos would be helpful here since very few people are used to printing from mobile devices yet. I explained it and she picked it up easily though.
Score 4/5
Extras
The printer has a memory card slot for direct printing and a very easy flat bed scanner.
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The scan to computer must be initiated by the computer. This would be better if the printer remembered the computers attached and on of install you set up a folder for scans to land but will work none the less. Adding an option to scan to dropbox or similar cloud storage would also be good. The other cool feature is the apps. Some come preinstalled but might need to be configured on the eprint website. This is the case for the coupons.com app since it needs a zip code. Once configured, the printer does all the sorting and prints out things as requested.
Score 4/5

Overall it may be since I have not needed to buy a personal printer in a while but the advanced features and ease of use make this a solid choice in my opinion.
Total Score 19.5 out of 25

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