"Good printer, but a small hitch"3.0 starson by 10e
Pros: Excellent document print speed, decent photo speed
Cons: Weird half-inch band of grainy printing about an inch away from right side of photo
Summary: Having read about HP's revolutionary new print and cartridge design, I was anxious to see if it lived up to the hype. It does, and it doesn't. I've included ratings for each category to average out my mark.
The print speed is good, though the rated print speed cannot be achieved at anywhere near the highest levels of quality. I do believe that it is fairly close to the rated text speed with text-only prints at draft quality, but draft quality text/graphics are not amazing. Photos can take as little as 40 seconds using advanced paper at "Best" quality mode, but generally 4x6 photos done at best mode on Premium or Premium Plus photo papers will take anywhere from 1:30 to 2:10. Still fairly fast, though, so I would give the printer a good mark for speed. Keep in mind, though, this printer cannot compete with the Canon i960 or iP8500 in print speeds for photos, so if that's what you are used to, don't expect this to compete. These two printers will print a 4x6 at their best quality in 45 seconds or less.
Print Quality: 5
Generally the printing quality is quite good. Blacks on text and graphics printing from web pages and dox are good at normal and higher quality settings, colours are fairly accurate and well saturated. Unfortunately when I print 4x6 photos the quality is just not consistent enough. First off, the printing quality on advanced photo paper is plain horrid. The colours are very inaccurate, and the print quality seems grainy. On Premium or Premium Plus photo paper, 80% of the photo looks pretty good, but the last inch that is printed has a graininess to it that is very visible with the naked eye. On further examination it almost seems like somehow the printers heads go out of alignment vertically and cause a half inch "stripe" of very poor print quality where there are white spaces visible between the print dots. Very disappointing. I've tried troubleshooting this, but so far to no avail. If this wasn't the case, I'd give quality at least a "7" as the rest of the photo is fine at "Best" or the "Maximum DPI" settings.
The printer is nicely built, and the separate (and now automatic) photo tray and 8.5x11 trays are fairly well designed, though I found the bottom (larger) tray to be a bit fickle. Be careful to not jam it in, or you may damage it, as the plastic is not as thick as previous generation models. Otherwise the memory card capability, nice bright LCD screen, and nice automatic paper handling are a real improvement over previous Photosmart printers (like the 7960 and 8450). I do have to say that it is nice to be able to buy 6 cartridges and 100 sheets of advanced photo paper at $40.00 or so Canadian. HP has made great strides in this in comparison to previous models, especially with the easy cartridge handling, automatic head alignment, and ink recycling.
Now if they could just shrink the print dot from 5 to 3 picolitres, they'd be up their with Canon and Epson in this regard, though the visual difference is not what one would think it would be between a printer like this that does 5 picolitre drops vs. a Canon at 1 picolitre or an Epson at 1.5.
If I can find a way to fix that last half inch issue in photo printing I would gladly upgrade my rating by at least one point. Keep in mind while I'm not a pro-photographer, I have used enough Epson, Canon, and HP printers to know about all the subtle differences in quality. I'm still very happy with my HP Photo 8450 and Canon i960 even though they are not the latest and greatest. I purchased this printer to give me speedy photos and speedy documents. It does both, but the photo quality leaves something to be desired right now.