HP Photosmart Wireless review
HP has a range of Photosmart all-in-ones, from the all-singing, all-dancing £180 Photosmart Premium, down to the relatively budget £90 Photosmart. In the middle, in terms of both features and price, is the Photosmart Wireless, which costs about £120. It's designed primarily for the home or home-office user who, as its name suggests, probably has an interest in printing photos, too.
Decked out in high-gloss black, which is beginning to look a bit dated and is easy to cover in fingerprints, the case is still well designed, apart from the feed tray. Along with plenty of other printers and all-in-ones, this folds up out of the way when not in use, reducing the footprint of the printer. It's hard to see the point, though, as it means you have to load paper before every print job and clear the desk to fold the tray down - you might as well keep it down, but then there's no cover to keep dust off the paper. Paper feeds out to end up on top of the input stack, so the footprint of the printer in use is large.
The control panel is a halfway house between the full touchscreen of the Photosmart Premium and the physical buttons of lower-priced all-in-ones. There are six touch buttons down the sides of a modest, 37mm LCD panel. Those on the left have the single functions of Return, Cancel and OK, while the right-hand ones have soft functions that are determined by menu options on the screen. The touch buttons are suitably sensitive and illuminate when their options are available.
Below the control panel are two memory card slots. Between them, they can handle SD, MemoryStick, CompactFlash and xD. It's disappointing there isn't a PictBridge socket as well, which can be an easier connection method for some cameras.
The Contact Image Sensor (CIS) scanner assembly is very slim, adding little to the overall height of the device. CIS scanners have advanced a lot recently and can give high-quality results from 2D targets.
Lift the scanner section of the machine and you have easy access to the head carrier, where you clip in the four individual ink cartridges. There are strong design similarities between these cartridges and those in current Canon Pixma inkjets, which is no bad thing, as the Canon products work very well indeed.
There's a USB socket at the back of the Photosmart Wireless, but most people will have bought it, at least in part, for the wireless connection, and this is fairly straightforward. Although you have to connect the device via USB for setup, a cable is supplied and once the link is established, the machine works flawlessly over a wifi connection.
It has a couple of problems elsewhere, though, most noticeably in the amount of what HP would call housekeeping and what we call faffing about. Charging and maintaining good ink flow is obviously important, but taking up to 30 seconds - the worst case we saw was closer to a minute - before starting to print isn't really acceptable. It doesn't happen before every print, but is more likely if you print infrequently, as many home users will.
That aside, speeds are pretty good. We managed to squeeze more than 9.5ppm out of the machine printing black text; even when printing text and colour graphics, we still saw nearly 5.5ppm. A 15 x 10cm photo, meanwhile, completed printing in less than a minute.
Print quality, as we've come to expect from HP inkjets, was excellent, with clean black text, bright colour business graphics - even on plain paper - and good registration of text over coloured backgrounds. Importantly, colour photocopies were also good, with less colour fade than is often found in digital copies. Photo reproduction was also well above average, with natural colours and good levels of detail in both bright and shadowed areas of our test images.