The HP Tango X has made it onto our list of the best compact printers (opens in new tab) you can buy right now, making it one of the most impressive printers outright. The fact it's compact, prints quickly and at high quality, all add to its selling points but that minimalist design is just a really good-looking bonus.
The HP Tango X closes down to a super desk-friendly 15 inches x 9.7 inches x 3.5 inches. Lift the paper feeder and this grows to 11 inches – to hold 50 sheets of A4 – but at just 7.5 pounds you can easily move it to find a perfect space.
That said, the Tango X is also very mobile. It comes with an attractive material outer case which folds around the unit leaving a carry handle. The lack of USB port backs this idea up as the printer is made for wireless cloud-based printing from a phone.
HP Tango X: Print quality
The HP Tango X might be compact but that doesn't mean it scrimps on quality in any way. This printer performed well across a host of tests. Text was clearly defined with dark and well-formed lettering.
For graphics, the finish was excellent with lots of saturated color, fine detailing and great tonal transitions. The same can be said for glossy prints where the quality was high once again. The photos came out bright with lots of colors which felt natural yet also had punch. Detailing was to a high level with well-defined edging that created realism.
While print quality is high for direct jobs, the same could not be said for copying and scanning. Owing to the lack of controls on the printer itself, this is all done via the app. That means scanning with a smartphone in order to copy and print via the printer itself. Sounds great, but in reality, it just didn't perform that well.
Using an Android phone the text on documents came out blurry. It was better with an iPhone, but in both cases it printed with a gray background unless there was a dedicated light source on the paper. The color looked better but there were still optic distortions owing to it being shot from further away than a flatbed scanner would work. It's all passable, but not as good as a proper scanner.
Print speeds were decent with 11 pages of plain text per minute or a full-color image coming out in just under half a minute.
HP Tango X: Features
The most standout feature of this printer, the one which it puts front and center, is the use of its HP Smart Print app. This makes the printer an extension of your smartphone, meaning you can snap an image anywhere and print it off via the cloud on your printer wherever it is, or snap a document while out and have it waiting printed off when you get home. That's the theory anyway.
The reality, as mentioned above, is different in terms of quality. Cropping also doesn't work very well. The auto-cropping feature is a nice idea, but often it will cut off parts you don't want removed, or it won't crop enough. Either way, it will require patience and effort on your part if you want to get it right.
The printer doesn't feature a screen which is very cool looking but not all that functional. The HP Tango X takes a while to start up, as long as 48 seconds. You then hear a noise to know it's ready to get printing, but if you miss that then you don't have a screen to check its status. When the phone app sometimes takes minutes to recognize there is a printer there, this can be frustrating.
HP Tango X: Price and warranty
The HP Tango X, at time of publishing, is priced at $200-$220, making it one of the more expensive compact printers out there. But the cost continues after you buy the unit itself as ink isn't cheap. If you buy ink off the shelf you're looking at paying 6.3 cents per page for monochrome or 16.5 cents per color print. For this reason, the only sensible way to print affordably is by using the HP Instant Ink subscription.
HP charges $9.99 per month for around 300 pages, which works out at about 3.5 cents per page for both monochrome or color. So this is a particularly good option if you print in color lots.
The HP standard warranty covers you for faulty parts for a year after you register the purchase.
Should you buy the HP Tango X?
The HP Tango X is certainly a great-looking printer and the print quality is high while remaining fast. So as a stand-alone printer that's compact and portable, this is a great option if you can afford the initial price and ongoing ink costs.
However, if you're buying to scan and copy and like the idea of using your phone then this might not be the right model for you as the app that supports these features still needs a lot of work to perform at the level you'd expect. Right now a cheaper model with a flatbed scanner is a far better option.