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HP Photosmart 8750

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The HP Photosmart 8750 is a network-ready, wide-format, photo inkjet printer that can output borderless 13-by-19-inch prints using as many as nine different dye-based inks. It claims to be a printer for professional photographers, but because of a few quirks and its sluggish speed, it would probably be a better fit for advanced hobbyists who want to make larger prints at home.

Multi-color cartridges

Using HP’s Vivera inks, the 8750’s prints should last as long as 100 years under glass and 200 years in a photo album. Unlike many inkjets, and even some recently announced HP printers, the Photosmart 8750 doesn’t use individual ink tanks. It can handle three multi-color cartridges at a time.

It ships with Gray Photo (light gray, dark gray, and photo black), Tri-color (cyan, magenta, and yellow), and a new Blue Photo cartridge (light cyan, light magenta, and photo blue) that HP says will make skies and water appear more realistic.

Two other cartridges compatible with the 8750 are sold separately—a black cartridge can be installed instead of the gray photo cartridge for printing text, and a photo cartridge containing light cyan, light magenta, and black can be installed instead of the blue photo cartridge for printing sepia shots. Individual inks would be a great feature for this printer, especially if it meant not having to swap out different cartridges for different kinds of prints.

Slow print speeds

You can connect this printer to your Mac via USB 2.0 or 10/100 Ethernet, but it is no speed demon. On the Best Photo setting (the second highest quality), it took between five and six minutes to produce an 8-by-10-inch print of our 22MB Macworld test photo using the USB 2.0 port; it took 13 minutes for a 13-by-19-inch print of the same document. Printing them via Ethernet took a few seconds longer. Compared to other 13-by-19-inch photo printers like the Canon i9900 (   ) and the Epson Stylus Photo R1800 (   ), the HP lagged behind. The Canon and the Epson were able to print the 13-by-19-inch print in the same time it took the HP to complete an 8-by-10-inch print.

The Photosmart 8750 also supports printing directly from PictBridge-enabled cameras and includes slots that accommodate most types of camera cards. One thing that this $500 Photosmart printer lacks, that even the $130 Photosmart 7760 has, is a color LCD for viewing photo thumbnails. To print from a camera card, you must waste ink, paper, and time printing a numbered index sheet and then use the text-only LCD menus to select the number of the photo you’d like to print.

The printed output was very pleasing, though a bit heavy on the blues and reds when using the printer driver’s specific ColorSync settings for the ink cartridges installed. Opting to use the included ICC profiles in Photoshop or HP’s own ColorSmart settings made the images look worse. Black and white photos looked very good with neutral grays—helped by the printer’s gray photo inks.

There were no obvious dot patterns in any of the prints, but there was a strange texture to some photos when first coming out of the printer, with ink in the dark areas seeming to sit on top of the paper. This settled down over time as the prints dried.

The HP Premium Plus Photo Paper has a special rough coating on the back of each sheet to keep the prints from sticking together when in the output tray. But be careful when handling the prints. They stay tacky for a while, and I did have some ink come off the page when I turned one over to write the printer settings on the back.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

The HP Photosmart 8750 is a good, large format desktop photo printer and a good choice for the advanced hobbyist looking to make larger prints at home. But slow print times, long drying times, and lack of individual ink tanks will have professional photographers looking elsewhere.

James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director.

HP Photosmart 8750
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