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HP Smart Tank 5105 review: The future of printers fall short

Getting smart about your printing might save you a few bucks but it will cost you in other ways.

HP Smart Tank 5105
HP Smart Tank 5105
2.5 out of 5 stars
2.5
Paper tray
100 sheets
Printing speed
12ppm
Companion app
HP Smart
Fergus Halliday
Oct 24, 2023
Icon Time To Read6 min read
Quick verdict: HP Smart Printer 5105

The HP Smart Tank 5105 might be able to save you money but it probably won't change your mind about printers.

pro
Pros
pro Ink Tank economics
pro Refill indicators
pro Minimalist design
con
Cons
con Setup was a struggle
con Still feels bulky
con Higher upfront price

It's hard to get excited about a printer in 2023 and it doesn't help that printers don't exactly have the best reputation. At best, they're boring AF. At worst, they can be equal parts expensive and excruciating to deal with. A bad printer feels like it adds insult to the injury that comes with having to use a printer at all and that's before we even begin to talk about the contempt with which printer companies seem to treat customers who just want to make dealing with printer that little bit less painful.

I'm someone who grew up using a family printer but never bothered to get their own once I moved out of home. How I'm gonna print stuff is something that I try to think about as little as possible and, most of the time, it's not really an issue. We live in a world where most things can happen over email or in a web-browser and having access to a printer is entirely unnecessary until it suddenly becomes absolutely necessary.

Perhaps that's the reason why the new HP Smart Tank 5105 pitches itself at the thriftier side of the market. Unfortunately, even when you factor in the cost-efficiencies of the ink tank model, it feels like you're still paying a lot more than what you could be for what is a fairly thrill-free printer.

HP might have succeeded in making a more affordable printer, but those expecting a better one may be disappointed.

HP Smart Printer 5105

How much does the HP Smart Tank 5105 cost in Australia?

Starts at $369

In Australia, the HP Smart Tank 5105 starts at an RRP of $369.

As far as printers go, that's a little higher than entry level. HP's new Smart Tank 5105 isn't really an impulse purchase but it's a lot cheaper than the $539 price tag attached to the next model up. Still, if your curiosity about continuous ink tank printers typically expires the moment you see the price tag then this one might be for you.

HP Smart Tank 5105 - Design and setup

HP Smart Printer 5105

If you imagine a printer, it probably looks like the Smart Tank 5105. HP's latest is a white and grey block with a photocopier-slash-scanner built into the top. That appendage comes complemented by a small control panel with smattering of LEDs built into it. As you'd expect, there's a paper tray built into the back plus a second one that sticks out from the front of the unit like a big tongue and sits next to a quartet of ink tank indicators that hang off the front.

Those ink tanks are critical to part of the sell here. Rather than being cheaper upfront and making the money back on expensive cartridges or an Instant Ink subscription, tthe Smart Printer 5105 costs you more at the outset but promises to let you save over the long run by buying ink refills in bulk.

The HP Smart Tank 5105 isn't HP's first ink tank printer, but it's the company's first cheap one. While this thriftier take on continuous ink systems doesn't include all the bells, whistles and support for double-sided printing that its more expensive counterparts do, it does have a fair few of them.

Once you've set it up using the HP Smart app (available on iOS and Android), it's able to print, scan, copy and fax documents as needed. Out of the box, the Smart Tank 5105 has enough ink in the tank for around 6000 pages.

Once I did make it through the initial setup, the ink tank half of the printer worked exactly as you'd expect. Refilling the ink tanks was fast and easy and I really like the fact that you can see how much of a given color is left at a glance.

Getting to the point where I could actually start to use it proved to be more difficult than I expected. While the unboxing was easy, the rest of the setup experience was anything but. The Smart Tank 5105 failed multiple times to connect to my Wi-Fi network. Each time, none of the many error messages or troubleshooting tips provided proved to be particularly insightful. Rather than wipe away my memories of how painful printers used to be to setup and deal with, the Smart Printer 5105 brought additional angst bubbling to surface.

You'd hope that the HP Smart app might make the setup a little smoother, but it actually ended up creating its own issues. At one point, the app asked me to print a test page prior to installing the printerheads. I was constantly left either scratching or shaking my head in dismay at the setup process involved with the Smart Tank 5105, which didn't bode well for the rest of the package.

HP Smart Printer 5105 - Features and performance

If it's not already clear, I have a lot more to say about the setup than I do the general day-to-day when it comes to the HP Smart Tank 5105. That's not the biggest compliment though. Most of the time, the Smart Tank 5105 managed to hop over the low bar of being a thing I didn't need to think too much about.

Even it's fairly compact compared to more enterprise-friendly alternatives, the HP Smart Tank 5105 sometimes felt a little large for the space I had to work with. That's not unusual by the standards of modern printers, but it's hard not to look at the likes of the HP Tango and wonder why what's here isn't a little leaner. The same goes when it comes to how noisy the Smart Tank 5105 is when operational.

Despite the name, there's lots about the HP Smart Tank 5105 that doesn't feel all that clever or more thoughtful than the typical printer experience. The ink levels might be visible at a glance, but I quickly found myself second-guessing how many many sheets of paper I could fit into the tray without risking yet another paper jam.

Printing

Once you've got the Hp Smart Tank 5105 setup and connected to your home wireless network, you can print straight to it as you would any other traditional printer. You can also send documents to it using a mobile device or tablet via the HP Smart App.

This app also lets you see ink level estimates and do all the things you'd usually have to be physically at your printer to do. The fact that many of these functions require you to create and maintain a HP login is a little infuriating, but nowhere near as frustrating as some of the misprints that the Smart Printer 5105 produced.

During my initial week with the printer, I ran into noticeable number of non-descriptive error messages and even an instance where a mundane job got blitzed into a sheet of psychedelic sploches. Other jobs would be seemingly abandoned halfway through. 

Whenever something like the above happened, my workflow would grind to a standstill as I'd toss up sending through the same printing order a second time or waiting to see if the printer would sort itself out. It never did and it remains bewildering to me that for as many sub-menus as the companion app for this particular has to offer, none appears to contain a simple job queue.

HP claims that the Smart Tank 5105 is also able to self-heal its WiFi connection if it drops off the network during or between use. In practice, this nifty-sounding feature seemed to do little to alleviate the issues I had with this particular printer.

I reached out to HP about these issues and did not hear back in time for publication.  Even when it did work though, the HP Smart Tank 5105 was rarely all that impressive. The results were adequate and while the printer itself isn't slow but it hardly felt particularly fast either. 

Assuming (perhaps generously) that my initial hiccups with this printer was outliers or bad luck, those who need a printer every so often will probably come away without too many complains. However, if you're angling to use your next printer on a basis with any kind of frequency then this one is probably not going to cut it.

Photocopying and scanning

Photocopying and scanning works just as you'd expect here. As with scanning, you simply place whatever you want to copy onto the scanner and hit the button. This process takes about twenty to thirty seconds and works significantly more consistently that printing does.

Is the HP Smart Tank 5105 worth the money?

This future freaks me out.
HP Smart Printer 5105

For years, the narrative that heavyweights like HP have been spinning is this idea that modern printers are unfairly maligned. Machines like the Smart Tank 5105 are saddled by the sins of printers past and problems that have long been fixed.

Turning a page on the problems of yesterday's printers is a nice idea, but it didn't really match my reality when it came to my recent turn with the HP Smart Tank 5105. This was not the future I was promised. 

At best, the Smart Tank 5105 can handle the basics. Even then though, I wouldn't want to trust it with anything too important. At worst, it's frustrating in all the familiar ways. That combination isn't hard to find for less elsewhere, even if it might mean paying for more ink cartridges in the long run.

HP's latest foray into ink tank printers might bill itself as intuitively smart and light on price, but its inconsistencies on both fronts that has me hesitating to recommend it to family, friends and enemies alike.

Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday
Fergus Halliday is a journalist and editor for Reviews.org. He’s written about technology, telecommunications, gaming and more for over a decade. He got his start writing in high school and began his full-time career as the Editor of PC World Australia. Fergus has made the MCV 30 Under 30 list, been a finalist for seven categories at the IT Journalism Awards and won Most Controversial Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards. He has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, GamesHub, Press Start, Screen Rant, Superjump, Nestegg and more.

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