In early 2021, Hewlett-Packard launched its new HP+ cloud-based printing solution. Just more than 9 months later, the offering remains confusing for some customers. While it isn’t for everyone, a little understanding (and better transparency) could go a long way in appreciating what the HP+ smart printer solution can offer.
What Is the HP+ Smart Printer Service?
On select models of HP printers, consumers receive access to the HP+ Smart Printer service. This provides an additional year of warranty service, connected smart features, and discounted prices on ink and toner. Customers also have the option of getting 6 months of HP’s Instant Ink subscription free of charge.
With Instant Ink, consumers get their Ink or toner delivered when they are running low. HP offers various plans, but the first 6 months are free for up to 1,500 printed pages per month. After that, customers can continue the plan and pay a monthly fee based on usage.
The Devil Is in the Details
The Instant Ink service is what seems to trip up more than a few customers. This program has you paying based on how many pages you estimate you will print each month. It’s very similar to the metered plans many businesses use for their office printers. With this sort of plan, you aren’t paying for your ink cartridges. You’re paying for a certain number of printed pages each month.
With this type of subscription, you aren’t locked into a contract and you can cancel at any time. However, if you cancel, HP shuts off your Instant Ink cartridge at the end of the billing period you’ve paid for. You have to purchase a new ink cartridge to continue printing.
“But there’s still ink left in the cartridge I paid for,” you might be thinking. Remember, with Instant Ink, you aren’t paying for an ink cartridge. You’re paying to print a specific number of pages each month. Once your billing period is over, you need to either pay for another month or get a regular ink cartridge.
More Fine Print to Know About Your HP+ Smart Printer Service
HP doesn’t require you to use HP+ to print, but any printer labeled as part of that program is locked into it. Consumers who would rather buy their own ink, either from HP or a third party, need to be careful which model printer they purchase.
You also need to understand that HP is taking steps to ensure customers only use HP-branded ink or toner. The printer looks for an HP microchip every time you install an ink or toner cartridge. If the chip isn’t authentic, the printer may refuse to use it. The company also incorporates “Dynamic Security” within this authentication process. Non-HP ink or toner that works one day may not work the next.
Many printer manufacturers use similar restrictions. However, HP seems to be taking more aggressive steps than most to lock out third-party supplies. This is worth taking into account when purchasing a printer.
Is HP+ Right for You?
As long as you understand what you’re signing up for, the HP+ program can be a very good fit. If you can accurately predict how much you’ll be printing each month, the Instant Ink program may offer excellent savings. Even if you choose to purchase your ink or toner a la carte, the service could be cost-effective. On the other hand, if you can’t say that you know you’ll be printing a specific number of pages in a month, it might not be the right fit for you.
It’s important that you understand, though, that HP doesn’t want you turning to other ink and toner manufacturers. Furthermore, a monthly subscription for your printer supplies means paying not for an ink or toner cartridge, but for a specific number of printed pages each month. If such a plan won’t prove to be a good deal for your needs, you might want to consider other printer manufacturers that aren’t as aggressive in getting your ink or toner dollars.