The HP Photosmart 8150 has a 2.5" colour LCD, which makes it easy to see what you're printing when you use a digital camera's media card. Four slots protected by a clear cover on the front of the printer accommodate all the popular card formats. From the control panel you can crop an image, remove red-eye or add a decorative border. You can also print directly from a compatible camera connected to the 8150's direct-print port, or you can plug in a USB flash drive loaded with images.
- Good glossy print quality, useful included software
- High running costs, poor plain paper print quality
Because of its extensive features, the Photosmart 8150 would make a nice centre for the amateur digital photographer, but printing costs are high.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
The 8150 has a large footprint but keeps its paper supply conveniently underneath and out of the way. The paper drawer holds as many as 100 sheets of plain paper, up to legal size. A secondary feeder lets you keep 20 sheets of 4" x 6" photo paper ready to go. For even more flexibility, you can add a 250-sheet paper drawer. The printer detects the type of paper loaded in the trays. An optional duplexer allows you to save paper by printing double-sided.
Two cartridges supply up to six inks for printing. In the box, you get a tri-colour (cyan, magenta, yellow) cartridge and a photo cartridge with black, light cyan and light magenta inks. You can swap the photo cartridge for a black-ink cartridge for printing text documents; for printing black-and-white photos, you can insert a photo-grey cartridge that has two shades of grey ink in addition to black ink. Swapping cartridges often could be a pain, but at least you can store partially used cartridges in an indentation under the cover. In our ink-usage tests, 4" x 6" prints were pricier than average.
The Photosmart 8150 made very high quality photographic prints on glossy letter-sized paper. However, borderless prints made on 4" x 6" glossy paper didn't look as good; the prints were marred by some unusual dithering in the lightest areas and by a light band near the trailing edge. On plain paper, text looked a bit fuzzy, and the edges of closely spaced bold lettering bled together. Colour graphics on plain paper looked a little washed out.
The Photosmart 8150 printed text during our tests at 5.2ppm, and it generated graphics faster than most other comparable models, at 2.1ppm. Glossy snapshots emerged in 102 seconds.
Options include a Bluetooth wireless adapter that plugs into the direct-print port, allowing you to print from a Bluetooth-equipped camera phone or PDA with a built-in camera.
It takes time to install HP's Image Zone software suite (and it takes up 600MB of space on your hard drive), but the wait is worth it: the package offers more features than the software included with most other printers, including tools for organising and sharing photos, creating cards, designing album pages and the like.
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