HP psc 950

The latest in HP’s OfficeJet range of multifunctional devices represents a major breakthrough in the concept of all-in-ones: it’s actually rather good. Instead of the usual ugly kludge of low-performing functions, the HP psc 950 is the first combined colour scanner-printer-copier-fax we’d recommend without a wince. Built inside the smooth-edged case is a 1,200dpi colour inkjet that produces output every bit as good as anything in HP’s DeskJet 900 Series. This means it gives consistent results across plain and glossy papers with genuine photo quality, making it an attractive all-round home office and photo printer. Just don’t expect anywhere near the 10 pages per minute (ppm) speed rating: our tests achieved nearer 2ppm. Three slots are provided for inserting storage cards from digital cameras – supporting CompactFlash, SmartMedia and Memory Stick – so you can print out digital photos even when your Mac is switched off. The psc 950 automatically detects any images on the card you insert, and then offers to print off an index sheet of thumbnails. A clever feature lets you mark with a pen which image you want on this index sheet, along with paper quality and size options, then scan the sheet back in to trigger the photo print job, or, press the PC Save button to send the images to a Mac. The scanner is built into the top of the unit with an A4 plate hidden under a lid that raises up at the hinge to fit thick originals, such as opened books. Its sampling rate of 600-x-1,200dpi doesn’t sound brilliant these days, but our tests show it’s not a bad at all. OCR and fax scans are reliable, and photo scans are better than expected. A Copy button scans and prints in one go. I’ve never seen such a good desktop colour copier. Thankfully, the machine’s fax features are competent and less challenging to learn than most personal fax machines. The necessary fax modem is built-in, and HP has made a thoroughly sensible decision in keeping the operational menus shallow and the buttons few. Our only complaint here is that the Mac OS X drivers were a little unpredictable, and this was after downloading the update from HP – the version on the CD in the box didn’t work at all. The Classic mode drivers were fine, but they’re for only Mac OS 9.1 and later.

OUR VERDICT

As well as being a damn good printer and copier, and a better scanner and simpler fax machine than expected, the psc 950 is ideal for the digital camera owner with a home office. Given the print quality, versatile feature set and superb copying function, you won’t find a better all-in-one deal.

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