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The HP Photosmart Premium features a touch-screen for easy direct printing. Icons are large and the menu is easy to navigate.
HP Photosmart Premium: Features
Taking on a slick, black design, the new HP Photosmart Premium is the top model in HP's new range and has everything. You can print wirelessly, by ethernet, USB, bluetooth, memory card, from an iPhone or even directly from Snapfish.com, a subsidiary of HP. It also features a flatbed scanner to scan, fax and copy.
The moulded touch-screen is very sensitive so it doesn't have to be prodded to get your results. It also flips out vertically and once everything is set-up, it will leave on four icons for printing photos, scanning, copying or connecting to Snapfish.com. Connecting to the internet to download from Snapfish requires you to connect the printer to the internet via a wireless router. You'll be asked to put in the passkey to access the router and the keyboard is in alphabetical order, not QWERTY. This caused me some confusion at first being used to the latter variation and I'm surprised that HP, a large computer manufacturer, didn't put that type of keyboard on the Premium. You'll be required to log in to your Snapfish account and if you don't have one, you'll have to register on your computer first and upload some pictures.
The Premium is a front loading printer with A4 paper being loaded on the bottom tray and 6x4in (10x15cm) going on the top. The paper is loaded into the printer and curls over to exit out the front as well. The maximum thickness of the paper is 280gsm and because of the way the printer works by curling the paper back to print, it could cause problems with paper thicker than this.
CD & DVD printing isn't available on the premium and I think they've missed a trick with it. The specification and features rival that of the Epson Stylus Photo PX650 which will print to those media. There are five ink cartridges for the Premium: Yellow, Cyan, Magenta, Black and Photo Black.
HP Photosmart Premium: Handling
Setting up the Premium is easy enough. The enclosed CD will start the process automatically. It can take a while to get through all the agreements and T&C's but once it's going, the rest of the process takes around 15min. Most of this is taken up applying any updates that are necessary which I actually think is a good idea. One thing that really annoyed me was the amount of windows that kept popping up after the printer was ready to start printing. I was told everything was ok, did I want to visit the shop, did I want to register my product, then told everything was ok again. I was pleasantly surprised to find a USB cable included in the box.
Because of the lack of rear paper loader, it means the footprint of the Premium remains relatively small. There's a small paper catcher that can be pulled out to catch the printed paper and this only pops out around 4in further than the paper loading tray.
The printer is designed to be used independently so there are a lot of controls on the touch-screen. Everything is controlled on the screen and the only button is for the power with the bluetooth and wireless connectivity lights sat below. The main menu is a simple array and once you've chosen your task, there are simple step-by-step instructions to get the job done as quickly as possible. Scanning a document and saving it to a memory card took me under a minute, while printing from the memory card took a little longer due to the printer not registering that the card was in the slot. Printing was quick though and a counter on the screen tells you when it'll be complete. Unfortunately, the printer is missing a Compactflash slot.
HP Photosmart Premium: Performance
Photographs were printed in a variety of settings. The Agfa test print is a 17.3Mb file, the colour shelf Raw image was taken on a Sony Alpha A850 24.6Mp DSLR. The file can be downloaded here:
Sony Alpha A850 Raw file colour test.
Click the thumbnail to open the full size images.
From pressing the final print button to the picture being placed onto the output tray, a typical colour print takes around 4min which is faster than the Epson Stylus Photo PX650 which took 6min for a similar image, but slower than the Kodak ESP 9 which takes around 3min for the same task.
Saturated colours are reproduced really well. I tried the four options of Saturation, Perceptual, Relative colorimetric (default) and Absolute colorimetric and the results are positive from all four settings with very little between them. Yellow seems a little bit paler on the Perceptual setting but they're all very similar between each other.
HP Photosmart Premium absolute colorimetric.
HP Photosmart Premium relative colorimetric.
HP Photosmart Premium perceptual.
HP Photosmart Premium saturation.
The grey scale is handled well regardless of the setting and I printed off a black & white scene switching between Photoshop or printer managing colour and no colour management, which should yield the best results with no colour in the print. They are identical in that they all have the same amount of grey, contrast and black to them. With a colour print, there are some noticeable differences using these three settings. Reds appear brighter when Photoshop manages the colours while purples seem to come out a bit paler. Greens are darker when Photoshop manages the colour and the brightest with no colour management.
HP Photosmart Premium portraits.
HP Photosmart Premium portrait original.
HP Photosmart Premium portrait 2.
HP Photosmart Premium portrait 2 original.
Skin tones are reproduced with a warm feel to them. Other non-flesh colours in the same picture were accurate on the portrait shots I printed off. The printer produces sharp prints and looking at close-up prints I did, the eyes are razor sharp.
One disappointment is the lack of a gloss optimiser because bronzing occurs, although only mildly and when viewed at extreme angles. Using a gloss optimiser would help to avoid this phenomenon.
Scanning from the printer is easy too, but it doesn't allow you to choose a place on your computer to save it to, which would be nice. However, it does save to the My Pictures folder and creates a new folder entitled My Scans. With the printer, any large areas of white will convince the printer that it has two images on the scanner and will separate them. In this scenario, it's good to use the computer.
I got lots of texture showing from the HP paper, like it's a matt finish, but is actually a gloss type. I scanned a couple of prints using an Epson 3200 flatbed scanner and got the same result, showing it's the paper that causes it.
HP Photosmart Premium: Verdict
I think what the HP Premium has going for it is the price. Currently at £99, it's cheaper than the Epson Stylus Photo PX650 and while the prints aren't as good, they're still very good. Ink cartridges cost around £16 from the HP website but I've found them a lot cheaper on other websites with little searching.
I like the possibility of wireless printing and the fact that it's linked to the internet makes it easier to print photos I might otherwise not bother with because I'd have to mess about downloading the picture, saving it, then printing it. The touch-screen is intuitive, sensitive and gives clear instructions on what to do, making sure you can do it as fast as possible. As for the printer being an all-in-one that does have everything in one place; well, it doesn't print CD or DVD and it doesn't fax, so it depends on how precise you want to be.
I'd recommend this printer at the price that it's at right now because HP are doing it half price at £99. That's a good price for a printer of this print quality so I hope they keep it there. Snap it up while you can!
HP Photosmart Premium: Pros
Lots of print options
HP Photosmart Premium: Cons
No Compactflash slot
No CD/DVD printing
No gloss optimiser tank
HP Photosmart Premium: Specification
|Max document size:||A4|
|Print speed:||12ppm (Black, A4, normal quality), 9.5ppm (colour, A4, normal quality)|
|Ink system/type:||HP Thermal inkjet|
|Quantity of inks:||5|
|Amount of nozzles:|
|Monitor:||3.5in touch-screen LCD|
|Capacity:||125 6x4, 20 A4|
|Connectivity:||USB 2.0, ethernet, wi-fi, bluetooth, direct memory card slots, Pictbridge|
The HP Photosmart Premium is currently priced at £99 on the HP website. Take a look for more details:
HP Photosmart Premium