HP Tango X review

Easy to use and with quality prints, HP Tango X is more than a song and dance

The Tango X looks like a coffee table conversation piece, but it's actually a solid printer.
The Tango X looks like a coffee table conversation piece, but it's actually a solid printer.
The Tango X looks like a coffee table conversation piece, but it's actually a solid printer.


  • Very good looking
  • Easy to set up
  • No distracting buttons
  • Alexa, Google, and Cortana integration
  • Free photo printing with HP's Instant Ink program


  • No USB or Ethernet (Wi-Fi only)
  • Scan/copy functions require smartphone
  • No duplex printing

Can a printer be good-looking enough to reside in your living room? HP thinks the Tango X is. When its fabric (or optional cork) cover is in place, it looks somewhat like a very large fabric-covered coffee-table book. Of course, that’s only true when you are not actually using the printer, but more on that later.

It takes two to Tango

The Tango printer is actually available in two models. The standard $149 Tango does not come with a wrap-around cover, and looks somewhat like a white and gray plastic box when the printer is not in use. Adding an additional $50 gets you the Tango X — but it’s actually the same printer, just with the a charcoal gray fabric cover. Other covers are available, including an Indigo fabric and the aforementioned cork.

Given that these covers seem to be just cardboard underneath, the added $50 over the base price seems a little steep, but it does transform the Tango from a white and gray plastic lump into something that won’t look out of place in your living room or even bedroom. And while the cover isn’t actually physically attached to the printer, it does have four small indentations that match up with small feet on the bottom of the printer, keeping it firmly in place. Velcro dots on both the printer and cover would do a better job, however, and you need to be a little careful when carrying the combo so that the printer doesn’t slip away from the cover.

But the cover performs a second duty beyond just making the Tango look good. When unfolded, it provides a place for the pages that are printed to accumulate. Otherwise, they just spit out to the surface of whatever the printer is placed on (or the floor).

To use the printer, you just unfold the cover, flip the top printer lid up and drop some paper into the 50-sheet hopper (or 20 sheets of thicker photo paper or index cards). There’s a light at the edge of the paper feed so you can see where the paper guides are set. The Tango really isn’t designed to print a 100-page PDF, and it’s not a duplexing printer, but it’s great for the typical short job that’s common at home.

An additional $50 gets you the Tango X — it’s actually the same Tango printer, just with the a charcoal gray fabric cover.

Another thing the Tango X doesn’t have are obvious control buttons, other than a power switch in the rear with a WPS Wi-Fi button directly underneath. The other buttons are there, but you won’t always notice them — they light up when you need to press one. There’s a button to cancel a print, a second to print a printer information sheet, and a third to resume a print job.

Another long light located where the white printer meets the gray base indicates the printer status. It pulses green when the printer is turning on or off, rotating blue in Wi-Fi setup mode, on or blinking amber when an error condition exists, and steady blue when ready to print. The light shifts left to right, back and forth, like the eyes of a Cylon — let’s hope it’s far less sinister.

Easy setup

HP claims the Tango is the world’s first home smart printer. HP defines “smart” as being able to access it from anywhere, and being interoperable. While it’s designed to be used with a mobile device from anywhere you might be located, the Tango can also be used with a PC (MacOS and Windows). That presupposes that you’ve left the printer on, the cover unwrapped, and with paper loaded. Many users won’t set up the Tango before leaving the house, especially if they have the Tango X with the spiffy cover.

HP Tango X review
Ted Needleman/Digital Trends

The other characteristic of HP’s smart ecosystem is interoperability. The printer is compatible with Alexa, Google, or Cortana, so you can instruct the printer to print with a spoken command. This is a bit more limited than it might seem, since you need to install the HP Print skills to use Alexa, for example, and these are limited to printing just certain types of documents such as to-do lists, shopping lists, and coloring pages. You can’t tell Alexa to print a specific document or spreadsheet. In fact, there’s a problem printing some types of files that we’ll get to later.

The printer is compatible with Alexa, Google, or Cortana, so you can instruct the printer to print with a spoken command.

Setup was really very easy on an iPhone. The printer connects to your home Wi-Fi network and that’s it — there’s no USB or no Ethernet. You download the HP Smart app for your operating system and it walks you through the setup step-by-step. We were up and printing on an iPhone within just a few minutes. Things went just as easily on a Windows desktop, once we tracked down a network connection error.

HP is very careful to not call Tango an all-in-one. It does have copy and scan, but these are functions of the software running on your smart device, not the printer. To scan or make a copy, you take a photo with your device, and print it. So, not really a scanner or a copier, then. On the plus side, we were actually able to get a pretty crisp copy when we tried this, but it’s no substitute for a real AIO or multifunction printer. Also, Smart Print’s Scan function does not work on a PC running Windows.

Pretty as a picture

Printing a photo, Word or Excel, or PDF document from the iPhone was very simple with the Smart app. There are four buttons on the screen labeled Print, Scan, Support, and Printer settings on the Smart screen as well as printer status, ink levels, and even paper level. Just click on Print and you’re presented with a new screen with two buttons: Print Document or Print Photo. You can also print on a PC or Mac using the Smart app, but only photos and PDFs. The Help screen notes this limitation.

When you print from Windows to the Tango, using the Windows print driver rather than the Smart app, Word and Excel files print just fine. If you have software that lets you save an MS Office file as a PDF, it can then be printing using HP Smart.

We did print a number of photos and PDF documents using HP Smart as well as Alexa, and they all printed without a glitch. Print quality was excellent, and colors were accurate except for a slight muddiness in the Yellow, Green, and Orange squares on the X-Rite Color Checker test print we use. This was not noticeable on the other photographic test prints we generated. Text was sharp, even at small font sizes.

Our Take

HP’s Tango and Tango X are very targeted print solutions. They are great for someone with limited print needs, who mostly print photos and PDF documents of short length from their smart device, or any type of document from a Windows or Mac using the system print driver rather than HP Smart. The Scan/Copy function — which simply relies on photographing documents with your phone — is not really useful if the document being scanned is longer than a few pages. The paper feed has limited capacity compared to many other printers in this price range, but it should be sufficient for home use.

With its good print quality and ease of use, the Tango — especially the cover-wrapped Tango X — is an attractive option for customers with basic print needs. The printer provided one of the easiest installs we’ve encountered, and it’s ridiculously easy to use the Smart software and Alexa skills (although, Alexa right now has fairly limited functionality).

HP makes selecting the Tango an even easier decision with its Instant Ink program, especially if you are going to be printing a lot of photos. Instant Ink charges a set monthly fee to print up to a set number of pages, but if you’re enrolled in the Instant Ink program, you can print photos up to 5 x 7 for free, other than the cost of the photo paper.

Just be aware that if you frequently need to print or scan long jobs, or need to print on both sides of the page (the Tango doesn’t duplex), a more main-stream printer or AIO might be a better choice, even if it doesn’t look as good in your Living Room.

How long will it last?

As with any relatively inexpensive printer, the Tango/Tango X should last at least several years, especially if you aren’t printing hundreds of pages a month. For many users, it’s more likely that their print needs will increase to the point that a somewhat hardier printer will be necessary. For the more occasional printer, it’s more likely you’ll get bored of looking at it rather than it wearing out.

Is there a better alternative?

It depends. If you want a printer that you can leave out on display, the Tango X is pretty unique. If all you want is a printer for occasional printing, you can find a basic printer at many supermarkets for $50 or even less. Our favorite budget printer, the Canon Pixma MX922, its a little more at $100, but can hold 350 pages at a time.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you want a printer that installs easily, has excellent output quality, does not need wires beyond the power cord, and doesn’t really look like a printer, the Tango X is an attractive choice. If, on the other hand, you expect to really push a large number of pages through the printer, a different model will probably suit you better.


The 20 best iPhone SE cases to keep your phone looking like new

Protect your iPhone properly with one of the best iPhone SE cases or covers. That metal-and-glass body is prone to scuffs and scratches, so it pays to buy a decent case. We've got protective and stylish options for you here.

The Dell XPS 13 headlines the best laptop deals for May 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we have you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

Walmart cuts the price on this 3-in-1 Canon wireless laser printer

Have you been thinking about replacing your old inkjet printer? Canon's ImageCLASS MF232w laser printer is on sale through Walmart.com for half of the list price, saving you more than $100.

Unleash your inner artist with the best drawing apps for the iPad Pro

The best drawing apps for the iPad Pro turn Apple's robust tablet into a canvas worthy of a true artist. Here are 20 of our current favorites, whether you're looking to keep things simple or take your art to the next level.

These external drives have speed, durability, and storage space to spare

Whether you want an external storage drive that is fast, portable, or comes with a ton of storage, these are the best external hard drives available today. They all come with great features and competitive pricing.

The 2019 ThinkPad lineup is robust. Here's how to pick the right one for you

Be it the X series, the T series, E series, it can be tough to find the best Lenovo laptop that is right for you. To help, we'll break down all the options available to make your choice a more informed one.

Here’s how to watch AMD reveal its new Ryzen chips at Computex

AMD will hold a pre-Computex keynote May 27 to announce its new line of 3rd-generation Ryzen processors and accompanying Radeon Navi graphics cards. Here's how to watch the keynote live wherever you are in the world.

Should you buy a MacBook Pro or a Razer Blade Stealth? We'll help you decide

Laptop head to heads are a great way to see which one might be the right one for you. Our latest sees the Razer Blade Stealth (2019) vs. MacBook Pro in a fight to see which one deserves to be your next laptop.

AMD's latest Navi graphics cards are incoming. Here's what to expect

AMD's Navi graphics cards could be available as soon as July 2019 — as long as it's not delayed by stock problems. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles like Sony's PlayStation 5.

Ryzen 3000 chips will pack a punch, and could launch as early as July

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 generation of CPUs could be the most powerful processors we've ever seen, with higher core counts, greater clock speeds, and competitive pricing. Here's what we know so far.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.

Microsoft might finally embrace USB-C on next-gen Surface Pro 7

USB-C could finally come to Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet. According to a Microsoft patent filing, the port was shown in an illustration, suggesting that the company is working to support this feature in the future.

Here’s how to watch the Nvidia Computex 2019 press conference

Here’s everything you need to know about Nvidia’s upcoming press conference at Computex 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan; including what to expect during the press conference and how and when to watch it.