HP Envy Pro 6400 Mini-Review

Posted on June 16, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware with 18 Comments

I don’t really review a lot of printers. Indeed, where I’ve cycled through dozens and dozens of phones, tablets, and PCs over the years, printers, especially the good ones, seem to just last. And that’s certainly been the case with the printers I’ve owned, most of which were made by HP, including my first-ever laser printer, which I purchased at the start of my writing career.

In the years since, my kids have come, and grown, and are now both in college, so I certainly appreciate the varied needs that arise at every level of schooling. And I’ve watched as printers have expanded to include faxing, scanning, and networking capabilities and, most recently, mobile and web connectivity as well. But as someone who just doesn’t think about printers all that much—again, because they tend to just last—there are two things are strike me immediately when confronted by this type of product again.

First and most obviously, there’s no excuse for not having a good printer: The new HP printer that I’ll be discussing here is unbelievably affordable compared to most digital devices and is especially so when you realize how capable and powerful it is. And second, printers have really changed, in a good way, and well beyond my understanding of how these types of products have evolved over time.

With all that in mind, HP this week is launching a new generation of its Envy Pro printer lineup, which sits in the middle of the HP printer families that target individuals, homes, home-based businesses, and small businesses. On the lower end of this scale, you’ll find the familiar DeskJet products, and on the high-end, you’ll find the workhorse OfficeJet series, which happens to be what my family normally uses.

The Envy Pro lineup, predictably, splits the difference between the DeskJet and OfficeJet products, both functionally and from a pricing perspective. And the new printers in this lineup—the Envy 600 and the Envy Pro 6400—would be a fine fit for any home where there are kids with school projects or adults who are now working from home.

Even the unboxing experience is smart, thanks to these helpful handles on the bag holding the printer

Helping matters, the Envy Pro is an attractive, modern device and not the type of thing you’d feel compelled to hide away in a home office. Indeed, when you consider that everyone in a family may need to access the printer—and do so from mobile devices in addition to PCs and Macs—putting it in some easily accessible area of the house just makes sense.

And if it’s been a while since you’ve purchased or even thought about a printer, you’ll be as happily surprised as I was that, in this case at least, how minimal and non-busy the design is. There are no obvious buttons anywhere, let alone a tiny screen with a terrible interface. When it’s not doing anything, it just sits there, unnoticed. But when it’s time to go to work, the HP uses a pleasant combination of pulsating lights and audio cues to help guide you through whatever task you have at hand.

Speaking of at hand, you may be surprised to discover that the Envy is set up and managed using a mobile app, which is available for Android, iOS, and, yes, Windows 10. We’d already been using this app because of our HP OfficeJet, but adding the Envy Pro to the mix was straightforward enough that any user should be able to handle it. That said, printing is still, well, printing. And the app did require a number of steps to configure it for the home Wi-Fi, and explain how to load the paper in the bottom tray feeder, print an alignment test, scan that alignment test, and then consider HP’s Instant Ink subscription, which, like the printer itself is very reasonably priced. In fact, I was so intrigued by this that I asked my wife about it, and she informed me we were already subscribed. Nice.

If you’re not familiar with Instant Ink, it’s worth a short side-discussion. Basically, HP will proactively send you ink right before it runs out, so that you never have that moment where you need to print something important and you can’t find the exact right ink cartridge locally. It starts at $2.99 per month, which covers enough ink for printing 50 pages per month, and goes up from there.

Anyway, once the HP is up and running, you … well, just use it. This can be as simple as printing normally from whatever you’re app your using, and in that case, the Envy works pretty much like any other printer. And I like that it prints documents last page first so that they stack in order when fully printed.

But you can also do things like scanning documents and pictures directly from the printer itself using the buttons that light up when you place something on the flatbed scanner. Send faxes without a landline. And more.

If you do have to do something more complicated than just print a document or photo, you’re best off using the HP Smart app. From here, you can access your Instant Ink service or just check on the ink levels, scan documents and photos with various configuration settings, print documents and photos, again with various configuration settings for each, and access advanced printer settings.

Beyond these obvious features, HP Smart also includes a link to HP’s Print, Play & Learn service, a growing online resource which HP says has over 450 free printable learning resources and original STEM material from over 15 leading content creators. And there’s a Smart Tasks feature that helps you create one-touch shortcuts for common tasks. Put simply, it’s worth exploring the app.

A few tech notes.

The Envy 6400 Pro has a document feeder on the top and a paper input tray beneath the output tray. The feeder supports up to 35 sheets of paper, and those sheets will be exposed to the outside; the bottom tray supports up to 100 sheets of paper and is internal to the printer and accessible via a slide-out drawer.

The 6400 Pro supports double-sided printing at up to 8.5 x 11 inches and can print at up to 10 pages per minute (ppm) with black text and 7 ppm with color. It has dual-band, self-healing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and supports wirelessly printing, copying, scanning, and sending mobile faxes.

I’ve only had the Envy 6400 Pro for a few weeks, but I’ll keep using it and hopefully expand my experience with some of its more advanced features over time. So far it looks like a winner, and it’s hard to argue with the value here: The Envy Pro 6400 Pro I’m testing costs $149, while the HP Envy 6000, which loses the top feeder, is just $129.

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Comments (18)

18 responses to “HP Envy Pro 6400 Mini-Review”

  1. JH_Radio

    We're lucky if we print once a month. Last time we baught a printer we baught a lazer. the problem is the ink can dry out. We deff. did not pay for the HP subscription. We're almost better off going to staples when we need to print we use it so rarely. Every once in a while we'll fax something. Sometimes we use it for printing labels to put on packages to return. It'd be nice if they made pritners for people who need to print every once in a while, but don't need all the fancy stuff.

  2. irfaanwahid

    Hey Paul, you didn't mention the Price of 6400.

  3. lightbody

    Thanks for the review.

    I have a ten year old Epson printer that just keeps working - on wifi etc no problem. One reason I like it is that it uses waterproof resin ink - great for envelopes that might get wet. Is the HP ink waterproof when printed?

    Haven't you always been able to set an option with the printer so that it prints last page first??

    My method of keeping ink affordable is to buy genuine ink cartridges off of ebay, where it is substantially cheaper than anywhere else. I just stay a cartridge or two ahead. Its nice that HP can manage that for you though.

    - Rob

  4. 02nz

    The big advantage of Instant Ink (aside from convenience) is that, because you only pay by number of pages, it often works out to be a lot cheaper for occasional users, who are the most likely to buy an inkjet in the first place. I found that if I wasn't using my inkjet printer a lot, it still used up a lot of ink in cleaning cycles, raising my real per-cost page. Instant Ink is much more predictable. Also, you can rollover unused pages, up to 2x your monthly allowance (so with the 50-page plan, up to 100 pages can roll over); and there's a free plan for 15 pages/mo. I think officially only certain (low-priced) printers qualify for the free plan, but at least in my experience I was able to switch to it (when my printing needs decreased) even though officially my printer wasn't eligible.

  5. jtdennis

    I recently replaced my 12 year old Canon printer with an Epson ET2720. I'm surprised at the maturity of the networking features in printers. I never thought I'd need to print from my phone, but I've done it a few times and it's much easier than I was expecting.

  6. Rcandelori

    10 pages per minute for black and 7 pages per minute for colour? That is pretty slow for an allegedly "Pro" printer.

  7. docpaul

    I rarely think about printers. My 16 year old deskjet is still going strong. Wireless printing would be nice though. And I'm digging the clean design of this.

  8. SvenJ

    I am curious about the "two document feeders". Isn't the 100 sheet one under the output tray just the paper tray, for blank paper to be printed on? The 35 sheet 'document feeder' is where you put stuff you want to scan or copy, right? They aren't both 'document feeders'.

  9. anderb

    The DRM in HP printers is pretty awful. If you cancel that ink subscription, the cartridges you have are remotely disabled and you have to send them back to HP!


    • JE

      In reply to anderb:

      Correct, but you are looking at this wrong. If you cancel your Netflix or Spotify subscription your access to their library expires at the end of the billing month. Same scenario here, you don’t own the subscription variant cartridges, you’re paying for access. If you decide to revert to the more expensive traditional style cartridges you just insert those off the shelf variants instead. The printer operates normally in either scenario, this is the as-a-service option for paying for prints monthly and the cartridges are delivered to your door.

      • wright_is

        In reply to JE:

        But you have, theoretically, already paid for the ink in the cartridges you currently have in the printer.

        I can understand them wanting them back, when they are empty, but remotely deactivating them, when they still have ink in them. That is a big difference to stopping virtual access to a virtual resource, they are killing a physical resource you have already paid for...

        • JE

          In reply to wright_is:

          No it’s a completely subscription based model. You’re not paying to own the cartridge, you’re paying to be able to print for that month. There’s plans of varying page volumes from low to high to suit your requirement and the page count resets each month. It significantly reduces running costs and the perk is it includes delivery of the replacement cartridges on an ongoing basis.

  10. Chris_Kez

    For privacy minded folks, note that HP collects usage and device data which are shared with "service providers" for advertising, and presumably for product improvement as well. My recollection is that you can decline this by de-selecting the appropriate small-font while setting up the app. I think there is also an item in the printer's setting menu for "Store anonymous usage information" that you can uncheck. It would be nice if companies just didn't do this stuff in the first place.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      The problem is, so many people have become used to the "selling your personal information for cheap products", that if a manufacturer charges the realistic price for a product or service without exploiting your personal data, most people will not buy it and still use the cheaper exploiting service or product.

  11. Dryloch

    HP has really come on strong in the last several years. Before that there seemed to be a lowering of quality. At this point I usually recommend HP to friends now since I know they are easy to use and setup.

  12. ken_loewen

    Many years ago, I worked for a company that makes ink jet cartridges and, learning some of the economics involved, have ever since had ink jet printers with separate cartridges for the cyan, magenta, and yellow, in addition to the black. It still appears to me my use of color ink is uneven but I've not looked at the detailed economics of replacing one color cartridge vs three individual cartridges, let along the subscription model in the way we're printing today. I print a TON more color photos now that I'm a parent with grandparents to send kid-pix to - yes, they have photo frames but still want the pictures in frames beside the electronics.