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HP DeskJet 6840

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The Deskjet 6840 from HP is a general-purpose inkjet with a few tricks up its sleeve. It features USB 2.0 ports for connecting to your Mac. It has a USB port on the front to connect directly to DirectPrint-enabled digital cameras. It can also join your office or home network via an Ethernet port or wirelessly via its built-in 802.11g receiver.

The 6840 ships with two ink cartridges: one black and one tricolor cartridge. If you’d like to print photos with six colors, the black cartridge can be swapped for the tricolor photo-ink cartridge containing black, light magenta and light cyan. The only real difference we saw when using four inks instead six was that tiny dots appeared in very light areas of a photograph when we used four inks. But unless you plan on scrutinizing your photos from an inch or two away, you will be very satisfied with this printer’s four-color photo prints. You can also swap in a photo-gray cartridge for printing black-and-white photos.

Of the photo printers we’ve recently tested, the Deskjet 6840’s photo print times fell right about in the middle. Text printing in its Normal mode was speedy, especially over Ethernet, and at its highest-quality setting, the text looked absolutely great.

Like the highest-quality paper for the HP Photosmart 8450 (   , April 2005 ), the highest-quality photo paper designed for use with the HP Deskjet 6840 has a rough, sandpaper-like texture on the back of the prints. True, it’s a minor detail, but everyone who touched the prints commented on it. HP told us that the rough texture helps stop the prints from sticking to each other when stacked.

Timed Trials

10-page Word test 1:33
22MB Photoshop image 6:51
4-page PDF 7:27

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

Jury Tests

Text quality Excellent
22MB Photoshop image Very Good
Graphics—fine lines, gradients Good

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


Number of ink cartridges 2 (optional photo color and photo gray)
Cost to replace ink/toner cartridges $45 (optional high volume cartridges, $65; gray tank, $25; photo color, $25)
Connections USB 2.0, Ethernet, wireless networking, DirectPrint camera support.
Printer resolution 4800 x 1200 pixels
Special features Optional photo gray cartridge; direct USB photo printing; wireless networking

Macworld’s Buying Advice

The Deskjet 6840 is a super general-purpose inkjet. It prints great-looking text and photos and has lots of high-end printing and connection options.

HP Deskjet 6840
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