Now, before we go on, I never said that I did not like HP. I only pointed out their
inadequacies regarding cost effectiveness and ownership. Now, not all men are created
equal, neither are a3 colour printers. The same must now be said about HP printers.
I am a firm believer in the phrase ‘looks do not matter’ but please, this printer
is sexy. In ice white and grey this baby sits like a dove in snow (if you have a
white desk). Okay, I’ll take it easy. he HP Photosmart Pro B8550 comes in at a snip
under £300 and is worth every penny.
The HP Photosmart Pro B8550 has a newly arranged printing mechanism with five cartridges,
very similar to the Canon Pixma range. Hmm. They even have a clip in print head
like the Canon. Hmm. It is not a Canon and I never said that everyone copies Canon.
Firstly, there is no Wi-Fi and no network port, just USB - but so what, most a3 colour
printers are not equipped with these. However, you will notice at the bottom left
of the machine, that there are the various card slots for printing and also a PictBridge
connection for cameras.
Designed to print up to 13 x 19 it is admittedly aimed at high end consumers as opposed
to amateur photographers but it’s print quality is excellent considering it uses
dye-based ink as opposed to pigment-based ink, so the print lifetime is more like
100 years instead of 200. The other, more expensive HP model that we have reviewed,
namely the B9180 is designed for various types of fine art paper. This model was
more or less designed to perform well on HP’s Advanced photo paper. However, if
you can tolerate that media limitation you’ll enjoy magnificent prints. Firstly,
there is no Wi-Fi and no network port, just USB - but so what, most a3 colour printers
are not equipped with these. However, you will notice at the bottom left of the
machine, that there are the various card slots for printing and also a PictBridge
connection for cameras. A new feature to this Photosmart Pro printer is the ability
to print directly from a memory card or camera without the need for a computer. The
small screen enables you to preview pictures before printing which, I believe, most
photographers would not even dream of doing as using a computer provides more control
over the settings. The beauty of this machine is that you can actually have it set
up to perform on normal A4 printing as well as photo printing, thanks to two separate
The main tray can take 40 sheets of photo paper or 125 sheets of plain and there
is a fully powered photo tray that holds up to 5 x 7 size. So you can keep plain
paper in the main tray and also have some small photo paper loaded for those emergency
holiday or work party print outs. The positive side of using ordinary photo paper
is that the printing speed increases as the paper does not have to be loaded manually
and feeds from the main tray. For supertabloid prints we were getting speeds ranging
from 5.45 to 6.58 min per photo. The colour print quality is excellent, even better
than the local pharmacy can produce. However, not all document types were as good.
Monochrome tended to suffer from a magenta tint but apart from that, the copies
are more than acceptable. Text quality is not so good but acceptable and for a printer
more or less dedicated for a3 printing, with the occasional text print, it is more
than acceptable. Anyway, don’t just take my word for it, read some more reviews
on HP’s website.