To print good quality photos, you need a printer that has exceptional qualities. There are too many cheap color printers on the market that are not up to the task of photo printing. Hewlett-Packard (HP) have been making quality printers for as long as there have been desktop computers. In that time, they have come up with many brand names for their printers, such as Deskjet, Officejet, Laserjet, Designjet, and Photosmart. A HP Photosmart printer is ideal for printing digital photos, and most of the current models can also be used for photocopying and faxing.
An HP Photosmart printer makes an ideal companion for a digital camera. Hewlett-Packard even make a range of digital cameras that carry the Photosmart brand name. There are several all-in-one models that have a scanner built into them, and a few compact models that do not have a scanner. A basic model can be bought for less than $100 but the advanced models cost up to $400. Of course, the advanced models have more features than the basic models, such as two-sided printing and wireless connectivity. It is important to consider not just the features of the printer but those of the scanner and fax, as they are not the same across the entire range.
The maximum resolution of the printer is the most important feature to check. There is little point in getting a photo printer that is slightly quicker if it prints blurry photos. The resolution is given as the number of dots per inch (dpi) along the page and also across it. The print speeds for color and monochrome (black and white) are slightly different but that is normal. Two-sided printing is usually supported but is only done automatically on the expensive models. The other printer features to compare are the capacities of the paper tray and automatic document feeder, and the paper types that can be printed.
With the exception of the compact models, every HP Photosmart printer has a flatbed scanner built into it. These all-in-one models, which are often called multifunction printers, save you having to buy a separate scanner, and maybe even a fax too. They can be used separately for photocopying and faxing, without needing to be plugged into a computer. The resolution and speed of the scanner are normally different to those of the printer, so compare them with other models too. The same applies for the fax, which is only available on the most expensive models. Unfortunately, the scanner does not come with an adapter for slides and negatives, unlike the HP Scanjet range.
There are plenty of other features to be found on a HP Photosmart printer. Wi-Fi connectivity allows for wireless printing from a computer or smartphone. Photos can be printed straight from one of the common memory cards, or from a digital camera if the printer has PicBridge support. A color image display helps you select the photos to be printed, all without using a computer. The red-eye removal and adaptive lighting features are great for improving the look of your photos, without having to spend time correcting them in a graphics editor. One of the compact models even has a rechargeable battery, which allows it to be taken anywhere.
Before choosing a HP Photosmart printer, think about how much color printing it will be used for. If you get your photos done at a store and only need to use the printer occasionally, there is no need to spend extra money to get a model that has individual ink cartridges. Think about getting one of the cheaper models that has a tri-color cartridge, which contains three colors instead of one. It is cheaper to replace one of these cartridges than it is to replace a full set of individual color cartridges. Unfortunately, the color inks are never used in equal quantities, so a model with individual cartridges is a better choice if you do lots of color printing.