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HP Deskjet 2540 review – still one of the cheapest inkjets

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £40
inc VAT

With wireless networking and support for mobile printing, this MFP can’t print photos but would work well in a home office

The HP Deskjet 2540 is an low-cost all-in-one printer with built-in wireless networking and a 1,200×1,200dpi scanner, but few other features. There’s only a tiny mono LCD display and no memory card reader. This means direct printing and scanning aren’t an option, and the MFP doesn’t support HP’s ePrint email printing system. You can print directly from Android and iOS tablets and phones, though, and it’s unquestionably cheap – we originally reviewed it at its £40 RRP but prices have now dropped as low as £30 from some retailers.

HP Deskjet 2540

The Deskjet 2540 looks and feels distinctly flimsy, and its design harks back to HP’s original Deskjet range, but this is a modern and surprisingly capable MFP for the price. It takes just two ink cartridges: a dye-based tri-colour cartridge for photos and colour document prints, and a pigment black ink cartridge designed to produce pin-sharp lettering. Unfortunately, this makes for very expensive running costs, even if you buy HP’s XL ink cartridges. A mono page comes it at 4p, but we were surprised by a relatively low colour cost of 5.8p, which adds up to a total of 9.8p per page of mixed black and colour printing.

HP Deskjet 2540

HP Deskjet 2540 Print Quality

Standard quality mono text is among the best we’ve seen from a budget MFP, which is a credit to the quality of HP’s pigmented ink, which doesn’t bleed. There were very few jagged or uneven letter edges when we looked at our document’s 12pt text closely, although there was still a very faintly fuzzy edge to the letters on 75gsm paper. As ever, we recommend using 100gsm paper for optimal inkjet print quality. Draft quality text was almost identical to our standard quality prints, just a little thinner. As there’s little qualitative difference, there are distinct advantages to printing in draft mode: while our standard quality mono letter printed at 7.9ppm, our draft document emerged at 11.7ppm, saving over a minute on a 25-page print.

Both speeds are rather slow for even an inkjet, and the Deskjet 2540’s performance in our colour print speed test produced a print speed of just 1.6ppm. Fortunately, after waiting a quarter of an hour for our prints, there was little to complain about in terms of quality. Our colourful charts were smoothly shaded, even 8pt text was clear, dense and solid. Of all the sub-£50 MFPs we’ve seen recently, this definitely produces some of the best colour prints, making them well worth the wait.

Deskjets are all about document printing, but we were nonetheless disappointed by the 2540’s inability to make borderless photo prints. Unless you’re handy with a pair of scissors, this rules it out for photo printing. Our 6x4in photo prints on appropriately sized paper came out at around 5x3in, with a thick white border on one side and thinner borders on the others. They were slow to print, too, at 20 minutes and 39 seconds, while two 10x8in prints also took around 20 minutes.

Despite these issues, the quality of our photo prints wasn’t too bad. Even the washed-out looking reproduction of dark areas wasn’t too bad once the ink had dried properly over a period of about 36 hours. Colours are bright, but not too unnatural and although some low-contrast images look a little murky and the gradation of delicate shading can be a little abrupt in places. We’d have had no major complaints if only we could be print borderless images. That said, this isn’t sold as a photo printer, so you’re not being promised anything that it doesn’t deliver.

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Basic Specifications

Maximum native print resolution4,800×1,200dpi
Max optical resolution1,200×1,200dpi
Output bit depth24-bit

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A47ppm
Quoted speed, colour A44ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.020m 15s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.020m 39s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfacesUSB, 802.11n wireless
Optional printer interfacesnone
Duty cycle1,000 pages

Paper Handling

Maximum paper sizeup to A4
Maximum paper weight250gsm
Standard paper inputs1
Standard paper input capacity60
Maximum paper inputs1
Maximum paper input capacity60
Duplex (code, cost if option)No


Printer technologythermal inkjet
Supported operating systemsWindows XP/Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.6+
Other inkjet featuresmono LCD screen
Other inkjet optionsnone

Buying Information

Consumable parts and prices£18
Price per colour A4 page5.8p
Quoted life of supplied black cartridge190 pages (ISO/IEC 24712)
Quoted life of supplied colour cartridge(s)165 pages (ISO/IEC 24712)
Quoted life of supplied photo cartridge(s)N/A
Warrantyone year RTB

Print Quality

Number of ink colours4
Number of ink cartridges2
Maximum number of ink colours4
Maximum number of cartridges3
Quoted photo durability50 years
Quoted photo durability sourceHP

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview11s
A4 document at 150dpiN/A
A4 document at 300dpi20s
6x4in photo at 600dpi39s
6x4in photo at 1200dpi2m 37s

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.035s
Time for single A4 colour copy 1.051s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.0N/A

Photo Features

PictBridge supportNo
Direct (PC-less) printingNo
Supported memory cardsnone
CD printingNo

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies9
Max mono copy resolution600x300dpi
Max colour copy resolution600x300dpi

Fax Features

Max mono fax resolutionN/A
Fax memory (maximum mono pages)N/A