capsule review

Photosmart 385 GoGo

You can connect HP’s Photosmart 385 GoGo portable photo printer to your Mac via a USB 2.0 cable, but it's really designed to print directly from PictBridge-enabled cameras or from most types of camera memory cards. That means you can print on-the-spot photos for relatives and friends at a picnic or party.

The design and color scheme are a little conservative for a printer with the word GoGo in its name: Dressed in white and silver, the printer doesn’t call a lot of attention to itself when sitting closed. But while in operation, it displays an eye-catching, 2.5-inch color LCD at the top of the printer that allows you to preview and choose the photos that you’d like to print from your camera or memory card. The screen also lets you preview crops and other edits before printing.

The GoGo is very small and light, and an optional battery ($79) makes it easy to take the printer to picnics and parties without having to search for an outlet, though a handle certainly would be welcome for easy carrying.

In this era of nine-ink photo printers (Epson’s PictureMate has six), it's surprising how good the GoGo's prints look using only a single tri-color cartridge. It prints ordinary snapshots with bright, pleasing colors. It also did a very good job on our standard Macworld test print, displaying sharp details and accurate colors. Even black and white photos looked very good, showing fairly neutral grays, even though the printer does not have black ink.

It takes just under two minutes for the GoGo to print a 4-by-6-inch photo directly from a memory card. That’s about the same as the original Epson PictureMate (   ; September 2004 ) and a little bit slower than Epson’s PictureMate Deluxe Photo Viewer Edition (   ; July 2005 ). Unfortunately, unlike the PictureMates, you need to let the GoGo's prints dry for a while before handling them.

The GoGo can print 4-by-12-inch panoramic photos from either a memory card or from your computer. As far as I know, it’s the only portable photo printer to offer this feature. It took a little over three minutes to print one from a memory card.

Printing from your Mac

The GoGo's software works well with OS X 10.4 (Tiger). That’s good, because you'll need to include your Mac in the printing process if you want to use the highest print resolution, which is not available in the printer's stand-alone mode. Of course these higher-quality prints take more time, but the standard-resolution prints look good enough that most people won’t need the higher-resolution mode.

HP's media packs make it easy to figure out an approximate cost per print, though the price depends on the quantity of media you buy. A $29 bundle includes 100 sheets of 4-by-6-inch Premium Plus photo paper and a tri-color cartridge. To keep costs down, you can buy a $48 bundle that includes 200 sheets and two tri-color cartridges-making each print cost about 24 cents.

Macworld’s buying advice

The HP Photosmart 385 GoGo Photo Printer is smaller, lighter, less expensive, and less visually attractive than Epson's PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition. It also lacks the PictureMate’s quick drying, water-resistant, six-color inks. But its colorful prints, and the ability to print panoramas make the GoGo a real contender in the fast-growing portable photo printer market.

[ James Galbraith is Macworld’s lab director. ]

Photosmart 385 GoGo Photo Printer
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