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Lifewire / Will Fulton
High-quality printing, particularly color
Automatic duplex printing
High ink operating costs
Inconsistent wireless connectivity
The HP OfficeJet 5255 is one of the best budget color all-in-one printers around, offering reasonable quality and speed on a wide range of professional productivity features.
The HP OfficeJet 5255 is a bit of a jack of all trades. It’s a compact color inkjet printer with both a flatbed and document feeding scanner and built-in fax capability. For any one of these functions, there are alternatives that do it better for a slightly higher price, but HP has managed to cut costs in such a way that combines all of the basic business hardware features at an acceptable quality with an exceedingly low price.
We put the OfficeJet 5255 through its paces, printing, scanning, and copying documents and pictures to determine how it performs in a home setting. We had a few headaches in setup, but were generally impressed with the overall quality, especially when considering the price tag.
The HP OfficeJet 5255 is sleek, black, and low-profile, allowing it to easily fit and blend into any desk or shelf setup. The smooth, rounded edges and gently sloping forms of the matte black plastic body are elegant, with nice design touches towards being as compact as possible, such as the folding cover for the automatic document feeder mounted on top.
The platform for catching printed documents also folds easily into the front, though you will want to make sure it is out for any printing jobs, as documents are forcefully ejected onto the floor otherwise. This plastic strip is also relatively narrow, so even with it extended you will not want to leave it alone on large printing jobs, as there will inevitably be some spillage onto the floor if you don’t remove pages as they come. Weighing in at a mere 14.44 pounds also makes it exceptionally light, making it easy to move the printer around when necessary.
This high quality for black and white images extended to color as well, producing rich and vibrant photographs that matched the colors on screen exceptionally well.
That compact form does come at the cost of having a relatively low-capacity paper input tray that only holds 100 sheets, with no options for expansion. This means that you will have to restock paper more frequently than many other printers, and there’s no option for a bypass or secondary tray to hold alternative media, such as envelopes. Fortunately, the tray is located conveniently on the front and is very straightforward to use.
Physically setting up the HP OfficeJet 5255 was a breeze, taking merely five minutes from opening the box to having it plugged in and in place. However, we had considerable difficulty in getting the printer operational beyond that point, taking another thirty full minutes before we were able to satisfactorily print our own test page.
The 5255 is designed for wireless use, and the included documentation and on-screen prompts prefer that you use a smartphone with the free HP Smart app to assist in getting it set up. We had trouble getting the printer to register at first, leading us to reset several times before the printer would consistently play nice with the wireless network. The lack of an included cable for directly connecting to a PC meant that you have to rely on wireless for setup. Perusing customer reviews around the web revealed this to be a somewhat frequent, if not universal, problem.
The biggest headache, however, came from printing the alignment page and then scanning it as part of the standard process. All of our initial prints came out streaky and inconsistent, leading us to re-print the alignment page four times before producing an acceptable one. Even then the flatbed scanner had difficulty registering it, forcing us to try the process over and over again until it finally caught.
There was an explicit contradiction between the on-screen prompt saying to place the document on the rear-left corner of the flatbed, while the alignment page itself said to orient it to the front-right corner. Printing quality evened out after running the inkjet heads through several cleaning cycles, but it was nevertheless discouraging to require immediate troubleshooting out of the box in order to attain a minimum acceptable printing standard.
Once getting past the initial hump of streaky printing at setup, the OfficeJet 5255’s overall printing quality was fairly impressive. Text was solid for standard documents, although slightly fuzzy in very small point, or busy and dense typefaces. Fortunately, this isn’t to the point it hurts legibility—at least within the realm of what you would expect from a standard home inkjet printer.
For the size and price, we found the printing speeds to be more than adequate for most home applications.
For black and white photos and graphics we were truly impressed by the fidelity and detail achieved. Gradients were seamlessly smooth, and fine-grained details of busy, textural pictures were crisp and distinct. There were very few, if any, noticeable artifacts or distortions like we saw in text. This high quality for black and white images extended to color as well, producing rich and vibrant photographs that matched the colors on screen exceptionally well.
It is rated to print up to 10 pages per minute for black and white and 7 for color, although we generally found it fell a little short of these targets. It also supports two-sided printing with relatively little slow-down. Regardless, for the size and price, we found the printing speeds to be more than adequate for most home applications.
Scanning with the OfficeJet 5255 works with either a glass flatbed that supports pages up to 8.5 by 11.69 inches, or a top-mounted automatic document feeder which can easily scan multiple-page documents up to 8.5 by 14 inches. The flatbed can scan at up to 1200 dpi, but the document feeder is limited to 600 dpi.
For basic documents and copying, we found the scanner quality to be adequate, though even at maximum settings there was a distinct graininess and loss of fidelity in scanning more detailed, color images. It’s also quite slow. Scanning a color document at maximum settings on the flatbed took a solid 4 minutes and 14 seconds, while scanning black and white documents through the ADF at a much lower dpi took about 13.6 seconds per page.
We also found some of the same recurring connectivity issues when trying to scan, wherein it would scan normally when requested via PC, but when trying to scan from the printer itself it would prompt for us to download the HP Smart software (which we had just used to scan via PC minutes before). For most applications, it’s more than serviceable, but users who will be doing a lot of high-volume scanning or need the highest-fidelity images should look elsewhere.
Fax quality is fairly standard for the OfficeJet 5255. It boasts a 33.6 kbps modem, transmitting at a rate of 5 seconds per page for up to 300 by 300 dpi. The buffer memory holds up to 100 pages should you run out of paper while receiving. It also has various quality of life features, like unlimited auto-redialing, forwarding, and HP’s digital fax which automatically saves incoming messages to a folder on a networked PC.
While we generally like the HP Smart application for controlling and monitoring all of the printer’s functions through a PC or smart device, the OfficeJet 5255 caused us more consternation than other HP printers and all-in-ones in the past. It didn’t always work as seamlessly and consistently with the app as we expected. Manually connecting requires a USB type-B cable, which is not included, leaving you with no recourse out of the box if you have trouble getting connected through wireless.
When it works, HP Smart is a solid hardware management tool, but HP’s insistence that you use it, as well as the app’s tendency to constantly upsell you on HP’s Instant Ink program, can lead to frustration.
The printer’s own UI is functional, but minimal, squeezed into a 2.2-inch monochrome touchscreen that will feel a bit unresponsive compared to smartphones. All too often the printer’s UI would direct us to again go to HP’s website and download their preferred app to interact through your PC or phone. When it works, HP Smart is a solid hardware management tool, but HP’s insistence that you use it, as well as the app’s tendency to constantly upsell you on HP’s Instant Ink program, can lead to frustration.
The HP OfficeJet 5255 lists for $129.99 (MSRP). It’s very good value for all of the features included. Ink operating costs are not the best, however, with HP’s high yield cartridges costing about 12 cents per page for color and 8 cents per page for black and white. Having a single, tricolor cartridge instead of separate wells for cyan, magenta, and yellow also risks a bit of inefficiency if you don’t use all three colors equally. Subscribing to HP’s Instant Ink program can bring the cost down for color printing at least, though it does commit you to printing more frequently than the OfficeJet 5255 may be suited for.
Brother’s MFCJ985DW offers a similar set of features, with some additional connectivity options, such as printing from USB drives or memory cards, at a higher initial cost of $150. In the long run, it undercuts the OfficeJet 5255 substantially in operating costs by having remarkably inexpensive and high-capacity ink refills, costing roughly 1 cent for black and white pages and under 5 cents for color. This is top of the fact that it is generally sold with three sets of ink cartridges in the box.
Canon’s Pixma TR8520 splits the difference in cost at $100 from the manufacturer, again with slightly better connectivity options than the OfficeJet 5255 and comparable features overall while also being similarly compact. Where Canon stands out is higher overall quality on printing, making it a better option for users concerned with better image fidelity, but who still want a reasonably inexpensive home all-in-one.
The best budget all-in-one printer you can buy for the home.
The inexpensive HP OfficeJet 5255 is a great entry-level all-in-one for home users that need something compact with a broad set of printing and scanning features. Users with more specific needs—such as high volume printing, fast scanning, or top quality photos—may want to spend a little more on some of the aforementioned options.