This is one of the biggest home photo printers marketed by HP and includes the company’s latest eight-colour print technology. It can print borderless pages up to A4 and works with or without a PC to print photos from several different sources.
The printer is designed along the same lines as previous HP inkjets, with pages being fed from a feed tray at the front, this one holding up to 100 sheets. They are then ejected to a tray directly above the feed tray. The Photosmart 8450 is a wide machine, as all three print heads used in eight-colour printing have to be able to cover the full width of a page.
In the centre of the machine’s front is a 63mm colour LCD display, which can be used for displaying thumbnails of images on camera memory cards and for showing the printer’s menus. You can select images to print using the jog-dial incorporated into the Photosmart’s neat control panel, or by printing out a proof-sheet, which you can then mark up with a pencil for the printer to scan back in and print your selections.
At the back are sockets for USB 2 and network connections, so you can send pages to the printer from one or more PCs, but you can also do so using any one of seven types of memory card or any camera supporting the PictBridge standard.
The eight-colour print system involves a standard cyan, magenta and yellow cartridge, a photo cartridge offering light cyan, light magenta and black and a third with two levels of grey and more black. This last cartridge is said to improve light tones, such as skies and skin and the prints we produced were of a very high standard.
Photographic images were particularly well-balanced, with detail in areas of shadow that haven’t always been visible in print-outs from four-colour or six-colour printers. They weren’t particularly quick, with a 5 x 3-inch print taking nearly two minutes to complete, but plain paper prints, using an optional, single-colour black cartridge, produced a print speed of over five pages per minute.
The cost of photo printing is almost entirely tied up with the price of photo print paper and a 20 percent cover print comes out at around 33p – a competitive price. If you can find a cheaper source for HP photo paper, you can reduce this further.
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