Photosmart 335, Photosmart 385, Photosmart 422, Photosmart 475
This is the bottom of the range of the four new compact photo printers HP has introduced. It replaces the 325, and costs just £149, making it a budget option for this type of mini photo printer.
It has all the basics you would expect – six memory card slots, a PictBridge port and a small colour LCD display to view images from cards. The LCD is fixed on the top of the printer, so you have to look directly at it to see an image.
You can replace the colour cartridge with a grey version for black-&-white photo printing. It also has a slot for an optional rechargeable battery.
The control panel is simple to use as there are very few options available: you can choose whether you want one, two or four pictures per page or an index print of all the pictures on the card. You can also opt for the number of copies of each print you want, and that’s it.
A single 6-x-4in picture takes one minute 55 seconds to print. Print quality is very good, particularly in terms of accuracy and vibrancy of colours, and the image clarity. However, there is an odd-textured quality to the output.
The next step up is the 385, the replacement for the 375 reviewed in our compact photo printers round-up (May 2005). For an extra £50 you get a Bluetooth adaptor, a larger LCD screen, which can be tilted for a better viewing angle, and a more advanced menu system.
We were surprised to find that the Bluetooth adaptor is simply a USB dongle, that you plug into the PictBridge port, which we thought was a clumsy solution. An internal adaptor would have been a better choice. It took 1 minute 55 seconds to print a 6-x-4in photo, the same as the cheaper 335 model. Output quality is identical to the 335, so its very impressive, if slightly marred by the odd texturing.
The Bluetooth function is a nice gimmick, allowing you to print from your computer without being connected to the printer, but it’s not as attractive in practice. First, it’s tricky to set up; you have to set up the printer using USB first before the Bluetooth setup assistant will recognize the printer, so it’s not really any more convenient than a standard USB cable connection. Second, printing via Bluetooth is painfully slow at 10 minutes, 16 seconds.
The Photosmart 422 is an interesting product and probably the most innovative in this range of compact photo printers. It’s ideal for those who are new to digital photography, because it includes a digital camera.
It also has a PictBridge port, so you can use it with other cameras, which might prolong its life if you decide to upgrade from the bundled Photosmart M415. But there are no memory-card slots.
The camera itself is pretty basic, but more than adequate for home users with a 5.2-megapixel CCD and a 3x optical zoom.
Printing pictures from the camera is very straightforward, you simply raise the flap on the top of the printer, put the camera in the dock and press the print button, which will print everything on the camera. If you want to print individual pictures or control other options, you use the printer’s menu buttons, which work in mcollaboration with the LCD screen on the back of the camera. The menu system is unintuitive and over complicated and it would have been better if HP had stuck to a similar menu system to the ones used on the other compact printers.
Print speed and quality is identical to both the cheaper printers.
The 475 is the top of the compact photo printer range. What puts it at the head of the pack is the inclusion of 1.5GB of internal memory, which means you can both store and print your photos. It also includes a TV remote control to allow you to show your images as a slideshow on a television.
It has a slightly odd mechanism whereby when you press the power button the front flap pops open, the paper tray opens up and the LCD screen tips up slightly. The front flap conceals the memory-card slots, PictBridge port, paper output tray and infrared port for the remote control.
Print speed is the same as the 335 and 385 at one minute 55 seconds for a 6-x-4in photograph. The output also shares the same textured effect, but that aside the image quality is the best of the bunch.
It has built-in Bluetooth functionality, but we were still unable to get it to communicate with our PowerBook.
Perhaps the most important feature that sets the Photosmart 475, apart from the other models, and indeed from the rest of the compact photo printer market, is that as well as 4-x-6in media, it can also print 5-x-7in photos. These take just 2 minutes 45 seconds.