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HP Photosmart 8250

The Photosmart 8250 is a big printer for HP. Not big in size, but big because this desktop photo inkjet is the first product to include its new scalable printing technology, which the company says will revolutionize printing for years to come. Based on a new print head design, the 8250 is HP’s first to use six individual ink tanks. HP also claims that the 8250 is the world’s fastest home photo printer. It is quick, but speed isn’t everything, and picky photographers will want to wait a little longer for the better quality prints that the 8250 is capable of producing.

The six Vivera inks in this printer differ substantially from the Vivera inks made for other Photosmart printers, which can print using up to nine inks from three cartridges. These are designed to work with HP’s new Advanced Photo Paper, which promises faster drying time, 40-year fade resistance, faster print speeds, and water resistance.

Setup for this printer was easy. And, as with all Photosmart models, you can connect to your Mac via USB 2.0, print directly from the built-in camera memory card reader, or print from a PictBridge-enabled camera.

As the first prints came out though, I noticed that photos on the new Advanced paper appeared dull and dark. Though dry to the touch, it takes about five minutes for the colors to start to settle down on the paper and for the photos to start looking better. Unfortunately, the photos never look quite as bright and colorful as the ones I printed on HP’s Premium Plus photo paper. Printing can be a little slower with Premium Plus paper and the prints are no longer smudge and water resistant, but on the bright side (pun intended), they are more saturated and will, according to Wilhelm Imaging Research, resist fading for an additional 60 years. Even with the higher-quality paper, there were visible dot patterns in shadows and skin tones that required the Maximum resolution setting to alleviate—and that setting is only available when you print from your computer. Since we preferred the Premium Plus prints, we used them for our quality jury.

In non-photo tests, the 8750’s performance was average. In fast draft-mode settings, a 10-page Microsoft Word document on plain paper took about 50 seconds to print. That’s fast, but the text was too sloppy for anything more than a quick, informal print. It took about a minute longer in Normal mode, but the results weren’t much better. But at Best mode, the second-highest available setting, it took three minutes, but produced nearly laser printer quality.

Macworld’s buying advice

Though innovative, the Photosmart 8250’s key new features were a little disappointing. Fast speeds and durability were made less impressive by the quality of the printed output. Luckily, by using different available media and higher print settings, we were able to get impressive looking prints.

Timed Trials

10-page Word test 1:53
22MB Photoshop image 2:08
4-page PDF 6:58

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

Jury Tests

Text quality Very Good
Photo quality Very Good
Graphics quality Very Good

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable

Specifications

Number of ink cartridges 6
Cost to replace ink/toner cartridges $67.94
Connections USB 2.0; Camera Memory Card Readers; DirectPrint USB port.
Printer resolution 1,200 pixels
Special features 2.5-inch color LCD; PictBridge and Camera memory card slots.

HP Photosmart 8250
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