HP Photosmart Plus review
Solid all-in-one with good output and a touchscreen operation that's eminently usable.
Review Date: 19 Nov 2009
Price when reviewed: (£130 ex VAT)
Reviewed By: Christopher Brennan
The Photosmart Plus is the latest in HP's new range of all-in-one devices. It sits in the middle of a new 'easier to understand' set of all-in-ones, with a Photosmart Premium at the top of the tree and a plain old Photosmart at the budget end.
The Photosmart Plus has the usual array of features, including a card reader, PictBridge support and wireless connectivity. In addition to a USB port, there's also a dedicated photo paper tray and standard A4 tray.
The printer has four separate ink tanks and it costs about £30 to replace them, or £50 if you go for the high-capacity ones. HP claims around 300 pages for the lower-yield tanks and 750 from the larger ones. The shiny black finish gives it a modern look and, overall, it's a fairly inoffensive device. We'd have liked a bit of movement on the LCD, as it's fixed at one angle, but it's still usable.
The Photosmart's standout feature is the touchscreen interface, which does away with all the buttons and dials traditionally needed to operate an all-in-one. At first it seemed a bit of a gimmick, but after using it, you see how much more efficient it is. Anyone familiar with the iPhone or iPod touch will have no problem getting to grips with the controls and those of you without will, too. The screen is responsive and menus are easy to navigate. It's simple, effective and genuinely adds value to the product.
One other feature from which iPhone or iPod touch users will benefit is compatibility with the HP iPrint Studio, which lets you print directly from your device over the wifi network. We tried it and it worked first time, with no setup other than choosing the desired printer and clicking Print.
In our tests, the Photosmart was very fast. It took just four seconds to print a page of draft text and 35 seconds for the same in best mode. The quality of text was very impressive, too, even in draft mode, with crisp and clear definition. Ten pages of a business-style document with images, graphs and lots of colour were equally impressive - two minutes 39 seconds, which is about half the time of other recent all-in-ones we've seen - and the quality was excellent. Smooth colours and images, even on plain paper, really made the end product stand out. Photographs were good, although there were some areas that could be improved, such as the detail in darker areas of the print. Nonetheless, the results were still good.
The scanner and associated software are also good, and the HP accurately captured our test image - a 300dpi A4 scan took 27 seconds, which is about par for the course. A straight colour copy took 30 seconds, with a black-and-white copy taking 15 seconds.
This is an impressive all-in-one from HP. It's fast, well designed and the touchscreen makes using it easier. For the price, it's well specified and the compatibility with the iPrint Studio application is great. If we're being critical, we'd have liked to see a bit more detail in the photo output it produced, but this is its only failing.
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