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When you purchase and install an HP printer, the setup routine may ask you to make some choices depending on the printer model. The most famous ones are if you sign up for the HP Instant Ink plan and for HP Plus compatible printers, you install it as an HP Plus device. After installation, you may also encounter several options for performance tools and drivers, most of which are not self-explanatory. It’s easy to get confused, especially since (as an HP representative told me) the company is in the midst of a massive transition period as it develops and scales HP Plus. Some details are still changing, and some pain points are almost inevitable, as we discovered when testing some HP Plus printers recently. This article will try to explain what you need to know to make the setup a little smoother.
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Because the different HP plans and tools are interconnected, it’s helpful to know a little about each one before getting into the details. So, we’ll start with a quick overview:
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HP Plus (sometimes called HP+) isn’t an ink subscription plan, but if you sign up for it, you can enjoy six months of Instant Ink for free, then choose whether to continue after the free period. You’ll also get other benefits, such as an extended warranty and additional features. For laser printers, any model that supports HP Plus, such as the HP LaserJet MFP M234dwe, must be installed as an HP Plus printer. For compatible inkjet printers, including the HP Envy 6055e and HP OfficeJet 8035e, you can choose during installation whether or not to configure the printer with HP Plus.
HP Smart has two components for each device. The first is an app that runs on your Windows PC, Mac, or Android or iOS device and must be installed to use the printer. A second component lives online and integrates so seamlessly that you can’t always tell when you’re working in the cloud.
As for drivers, if your inkjet printer supports HP Plus but you choose not to configure it for the program, the Windows setup routine will install a standard driver with the selected port set to match the connection you’re using. However, the HP Smart also works as a controller. And if you choose HP Plus when you set up your inkjet printer or install a LaserJet with HP Plus, HP Smart will also appear as a driver in the Windows printers and scanners list when you choose Settings > Devices > Printers and scanners. HP Smartapp also offers more options for some features than standard drivers and is the recommended option from HP.
Smart Advance is a collection of productivity tools that HP says are now available to any printer that supports HP Plus, whether the printer is installed to take advantage of HP Plus or not.
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If you sign up for the Instant Ink subscription service, you’ll pay a monthly fee to print a certain number of pages with a choice of tiers. Pricing is subject to change, but currently writing tiers start at $1.99 per month for laser toner and 99 cents per month for ink. Price includes shipping and recycling.
HP says you can save up to 50% by using Instant Ink instead of buying ink or toner cartridges when you need them. Your actual savings will depend on how close you are to printing all your pages without exceeding this amount. If you exceed the number for a given month, each additional set of 10-15 pages (depending on the plan) costs $1. It helps carry over unused pages to the next month, up to three months for inkjets and two months for toner, but once you reach the limit, you’ll lose any extra pages you’ve paid for and haven’t used. . Also keep in mind that the page count doesn’t distinguish between color and black pages, so the higher the proportion of color pages you print, the more likely you’ll save money with Instant Ink.
HP laser printers either include HP Plus as a setup requirement or lack HP Plus support, so you decide whether to install with HP Plus when choosing a printer. In contrast, HP Plus compatible inkjet printers give you an option during setup. HP says it plans to add an option to turn it on for some extra time after the initial setup, so depending on when you’re reading this, you might have some extra time to decide.
What ties HP Plus to HP Instant Ink is that when you buy an HP Plus printer, you’re entitled to a six-month subscription to Instant Ink only if you install the HP Plus printer. Some printers also include an introductory subscription to Instant Ink for several months, which you can take advantage of whether you install the printer as an HP Plus device.
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What is the cost to use HP Plus? You must agree to use only genuine HP ink or toner cartridges recognized by the printer by the chips on the cartridges. It doesn’t obligate you to stay an Instant Ink subscriber after the first six months, but it obligates you to avoid third-party cartridges, making the HP Plus a classic example of razor-sharp marketing.
Six months of free ink isn’t the only perk of HP Plus. Registration also extends your warranty by a year and adds some features you won’t get without it. For example, HP Plus members and non-members can print via the cloud using the HP Smart app and take advantage of cloud-based faxing. However, for cloud printing, HP Plus adds a private print setting: the ability to send a print job from anywhere, but only print it when you’re close to the device and can grab the document before anyone can read it. .
Other features you get with HP Plus include a cloud-based Smart Dashboard for printer management, security monitoring features, a cloud resiliency option that HP says ensures print jobs are always delivered, and two years of access to Smart Advance (more on Smart Advance below). ). HP also says it’s making an investment in forest protection and management when you sign up for HP Plus.
As mentioned above, HP Smart has two components for each device: the local app and the cloud features it connects to. They integrate seamlessly, so you can’t always tell when you’re working in the cloud, but the cloud component is only available if you set up an account online, and some features are only available if you sign up for HP Plus. Additionally, if you install your printer as an HP Plus device, the installation routine will add a driver option for HP Smart Printing, which is part of the HP Smart application, to the Windows Printers and Scanners dialog box.
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In our tests with HP Plus printers on our standard Windows test bench, we observed more than one driver installed after setting up the printer. When we tested the OfficeJet Pro 8035e using an Ethernet connection during setup, for example, we saw what appeared to be a standard Windows driver installed for the LAN connection along with the HP Smart Printing driver. Likewise, when we test printers connected to our network via Wi-Fi during setup, we find an instance of a standard driver installed for a Wi-Fi port. We also noticed that plugging in a USB cable after installation automatically added a second copy of the standard Windows driver, with the new addition installed for the USB port.
You can print with any of these drivers, but the company recommends using HP Smart. It is installed automatically when you select HP Plus during setup and is required to take advantage of some features that are not included in the standard drivers. For print quality, for example, the default driver for the OfficeJet Pro 8035e lets you choose between Draft, Normal, and Best. The HP Smart driver adds EconoMode and maximum DPI.
We’re not done yet: HP insists that Smart Advance isn’t a subscription service, but once you’re past the initial two-year period, you have to pay to keep using it, so you might want to consider that, too. According to HP, all HP Plus-compatible printers get free access to Smart Advance for the first two years, regardless of whether you signed up as an HP Plus. The company also says that after a year and 11 months, you’ll get a notification that your free trial is about to end and you’ll have the option to continue paying a monthly fee. Price not available at time of writing.
Features that Smart Advance adds include scanning multiple items with automatic border detection and saving each item to separate files; scan a book with automatic image correction to align pages, then save all scanned pages to a single file; self-medication
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