One pleasant surprise about my new Hewlett Packard DeskJet 990c series (mercy, what a long name for an inkjet) is that it “just works” with Mac OS X. I didn’t have to install anything in the next generation operating system to make the printer do its job. I simply connected it — now that’s plug and play.
There are plenty of other things to like about the US$399 printer, as well. It has impressive print quality, including an alternative photo mode that offers 2400 x 1200 dpi on photo paper. And it prints admirable black text on plain paper.
says it’s “laser-quality” black text. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it’s more than adequate for my small office needs.
Print speed is solid (under both Mac OS 9.x and Mac OS X). The HP 990c prints up to 17 pages per minute (ppm) in black-and-white and up to 13 ppm in color. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on a lot of factors. But I printed a high-resolution photograph (of my son in a basketball tournament) on glossy photo paper with the “best” setting selected and it took just under three minutes to print. And the quality was truly impressive.
The printer can also handle automatic, two-sided printing that lets you use both sides of a page if you wish. The 990c’s paper tray holds 150 sheets. The inkjet is designed to work with standard paper sizes, US letter (8.5- by 11-inches), envelopes, labels, and index cards. You can also tweak it to work with custom sizes ranging from three to 8.5-inches in width and five- to 14-inches in length.
Some other convenient features about the HP 990c are the print-cancel button and low-ink indicator, which can save harried folks like Yours Truly time and money. It’s a breeze to set up and use, thanks to its USB connectivity.
HP says the printer and its PhotoSmart cousins feature a new, exclusive optical paper-sensing technology that detects the type of paper in the paper tray and adjusts the print settings automatically to deliver the best print quality. HP says the inkjet will detect “most” manufacturers’ plain, photo-glossy, and specially coated papers, as well as transparency media. For those of us who would prefer to fiddle with such things ourselves, we retain the ability to control the print settings by turning off the optical paper sensing feature and manually choosing our preferred paper type and print mode.
Another nice item is the infrared wireless support in the 990c. Use it and you can beam and print info from infrared-equipped laptops, digital cameras, and (PDAs).
Finally, the HP 990c is both quiet and stylish. It operates with relatively little noise. And its silver/charcoal body looks good with everything from the new G4 minitowers to the Titanium PowerBook.
If you need to print really big items (think poster size), you’ll need something a little beefier than the 990c. But for most home and small office users (who are using Mac OS 8.6 or higher) who want a dependable inkjet that can do double duty printing our digital photos, HP’s inkjet is certainly worth considering.
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