The HP Photosmart 1315 sits high up in the HP range and is one of their "direct photo" printers. This means you don't necessarily have to use a computer to print with it, instead you can just use your digital camera memory card.
Costing around 270 from online retailers it is moderately expensive for an A4 printer. This is no doubt largely attributable to the LCD screen and menu system used to preview, edit and enhance photos. The main features are:
- HP PhotoREt III, 2400x1200dpi output
- 1 black cartridge, 1 tri-colour cartridge
- 100-sheet input tray
- 16Mb memory
- Memory card readers compatible up to 528Mb: Compact Flash I & II, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, Memory Stick
- Maximum paper length print 356mm, Maximum paper weight 60-90 g/m2
- Prints JPEG, TIFF (RGB & YCbCr) files direct
- Infrared, USB and Parallel connections
- 440x204x375mm, 6.5Kg
Design, interfaces and installation
The Photosmart 1315 appears quite stylish with a grey and black tone casing and sophisticated looking flip-up LCD. Build-quality throughout is of a high standard though some of the buttons require a little too much effort for my liking!
The card reading facilities are comprehensive allowing you to read a wide selection of popular card types. These are placed on the right side of the printer, adjacent to the LCD screen and menu.
To the back of the printer are the USB and Parallel ports, as well as an access door for clearing paper jams.
Back view of access door
Forgetting that this printer can be connected to a PC for a moment, we'll take a look at the card-reader and menu system.
When you've inserted your memory card you have a variety of options. First you can browse through your image which is a slow procedure. When you've found the photo you want, providing it doesn't need editing, you can select how many copies you want and the size of print and with a press of the print button it chugs a photo out. If you want to crop a photo this is also possible, though is severely lacking in options when compared to its PC counterpart.
Lastly you can access the menus which are composed of:
Basic Menu - Show a slide show, Print an Index Page, Print Range, Print All, Print Digital print order format (DPOF).
Custom Menu - Create Albums, Add Borders, Change Colour effect, Improve Colour, Add Date/Time.
Tools Menu - Set a Default, Print a Test Page, Clean Cartridges.
Paper options can be set through this menu but sadly, when compared to a PC the system is severely lacking. In fact few, if any direct printers, will come close to offering the power and versatility of printing from a PC.
However compared to other printers we've looked at such as the Epson Stylus 895 the Photosmart 1315 offers a superior level of functionality. It generally works well and is mainly let down by the slow speed of operation.
The installation of this printer on a Windows PC was straightforward. The driver (shown below) offers an average level of options and has a help file to solve some of the most common problems.
One noticeably absent feature is that of custom configurations. Instead each time you print you have to reconfigure all the main options which gets annoying when you are printing a lot with the same settings.
Text printing performance was not as fast as we'd hoped for, even with the ample 16Mb buffer. Photo printing was even worse with our test print taking over ten minutes. On a more positive note the 1315 manages to print quietly.
|Full page text
|Five pages of text
||A4 Photo Paper
|High quality settings photo
||A4 Photo Paper
Relying on a basic cartridge system the Photosmart 1315 was never going to be able to compete with more advanced printers such as the Canon S900. Ink droplets were clearly visible in flat areas of test prints. Skin tones were reproduced quite well and colour performance in general was good though occasionally a little too dark.
Looking at our progressive grey-scale print test it showed a clear failing in presenting the very darkest levels accurately. Deep blacks were however richly presented so dark prints still managed a reasonable level of performance. The auto-head alignment performed well and there was no evidence of any banding on any of the papers we used.
The biggest concern we have with our test prints was the presence of a vertical line down the center of all the glossy prints. We couldn't locate the cause of this precisely but it is likely to have been one of the rollers at the back of the paper feeder. There was no obvious way of adjusting the system to prevent this and the line is a great distraction on most photos. Using some ICI Satin paper the line was not present, nor was it visible on plain paper when printing text. We have heard that this problem doesn't manifest itself on all 1315 printers but we'd suggest keeping an eye open for it.
Here is our selection of some of our standard test prints and comments on how well the HP 1315 managed with them.
Looking closely at the area surrounding the clock face detail was lost in the darkest areas. This was particularly true on the Sigel glossy paper but slightly improved on the ICI Satin. Overall this a disappointing performance for a printer costing this much.
This print showed a higher level of quality. The printer is capable of reproducing fine details well with the right paper. Here we used Canon Photo Paper Pro with good results. Colour accuracy was almost spot on with only the very darkest blacks letting the side down by appearing a shade light. Being a glossy paper it suffered from the line down the center slightly degrading an otherwise nice print.
Colours here appeared vibrant and pleasant to look at, but a shade darker than they should have been. Printed on HP glossy paper ink drops are hard to spot leaving only the dreaded vertical line to detract attention.
The above text is Arial size 10 blown up when scanned. The top line is printed at "Best" quality mode and the lower "Normal" mode. Although not very clear in this sample the "Best" mode produces a far higher quality text, but it still leaves room for improvement.
HP had the makings of a good printer here. It's built well and includes some direct printing features many people could find valuable. However it's slow, highly priced and offers only average print quality. We also found that the printer driver lacked some important features. Our review sample had the problem of a vertical line down the center on some prints but it has been confirmed that not all models have this problem, we were simply unlucky.
We can only recommend this if you are set on buying a direct printer with a TFT screen and can put up with slow print speeds and the quality issues described.