Tuesday, December 4, 2007
HP Photosmart Compact Photo Printer
I take far too many pictures. I've taken more than 5000 photos since Hollis was born a little over 3 years ago. That averages out to about 4-5 every day for his entire life.

That's the wonder of digital photography. You can take a million photos and just print out the best ones instead of just praying that at least 1 photo on your roll of film came out all right.

But if you're anything like me you no longer have time to print out those "best" photos. I'm a scrapbooker. So for the first 9 months of Hollis's life I diligently printed out photos and created original scrapbook pages for each milestone in his infanthood. But when Hollis was about 9 months old, I really entered the throes of my second pregnancy and the paper scrapbook fell by the wayside. Hollis's scrap book stops at 9 months and Holden's never really got started.

So when PBN offered me the chance to review the new HP Photosmart Compact Photo Printer, I think I hurt my finger I replied to that email so quickly. I received the printer, a starter package with a color ink cartridge, an extra ink cartridge, several sheets of 5x7 HP photo paper and 2 photo books, 1 in a 5x7 and 1 8x10.

I must admit, I loved the photo book idea before I even tried out the printer. The pages of the photo book are actually HP photo paper, so you can print a photo or a scrapbook page out on your printer and pop it into the photo book. Voila. Instant scrapbook. I already create digital scrapbook pages and have printed out many as gifts, but in the past I had to mount each printed page in a scrapbook. I'm looking forward to making my gift giving a little easier in the future with the HP photo books.

The printer itself is compact and easy to set up. Mine is currently set up on the buffet in my kitchen so I can print and supervise the kids. I don't have mine hooked up to my computer. I just copy what I want to a memory card from my laptop and pop the card into the printer. Or, you can the HP photo printer up to your computer as you would any printer.

The printer also offers some editing options and a touch screen with menus that can be easily accessed with your finger or a stylus. I used the stylus to put my handwriting on some photos, something I really can't do with my usual photo editor - the tried and true Adobe Photoshop. I really thought that was the neatest thing about the editing capabilities of the printer, but you can also eliminate red eye, make photos black and white or sepia, add borders or graphics, soften photos, or use the "skinny" setting. Seriously. It can make you look skinny.

(Did I just hear women all over America whipping out their credit cards to buy this thing?)

The one problem I noticed with editing directly on the printer, is that there is no way to save your changes to a disk or your computer. Or if there is, I can't seem to figure out how to do it. And I'm notorious for refusing to seek help unless I'm desperate. I wrote on a cute picture of Holden with the stylus, but I can't figure out how to get my edits saved so that I can show them to you in a jpg format. That's frustrating.

With the exception of handwriting with the stylus and the "skinny" effect, I can do all of the editing options in Photoshop. I like editing my photos and I doubt I'll stop using Photoshop. But if you have no patience for that and want to take a memory card directly from your camera and print out photos easily and with a little editing, you can do it with the HP Photo Printer and it seems easy and fast.

The true test of this printer for me was the photo quality. Yeah, the editing features are neat, but I want something with amazing color that I don't have to order or take to a printer. Here, the HP Photo Printer did not disappoint me. The print quality of the photos is excellent. I printed out several photos of mine that I love, with lots of color, just to test it out.

This photo looked great. I couldn't tell that I had printed it at home. It looked professional.

The printer also comes with the HP Photosmart Essential software. The software catalogs all of your photos so you can easily access them by date or folder, allows you to do simple edits and create projects, like photo cards and calendars.

I tried out an add-on the Photosmart Essential software downloaded from the HP website to create simple scrapbook pages. It was fairly easy to use and gave me templates I could just drag and drop photos into. I can then print out the scrapbook pages and pop them into the HP photo books.

Again, I had a problem with saving my scrapbook creations and edits in a usable format. I like to have my scrapbook creations in jpg format so that I can share them online, on my blog, or print them out anywhere I like. The HP software saves everything thing in a format unique to the HP software and I can't for the life of me figure out how to convert the files. While that might be part of HP's plan to get people to use their printer or online services, I don't like it. I want my unique creations and edits in a universal format and I don't want to be limited in how I can use them.

The software does, however, save smaller sized preview icons of projects in jpg format that I found by browsing through my files. Here's an example of a holiday template from the HP software, although this isn't a finished product because I'm not even sure how this was saved by the software. But it gives you an idea of what you can do.

The Photosmart Essential software probably isn't something I'll use on a regular basis simply because I'm a dedicated Photo Shop user. I need more flexibility and options than the simple editing allowed by the HP software.

Seriously, HP? In a software update you should really consider letting us save edits, creations, and scrapbook pages in jpg or gif format. I'd be much happier.

As a veteran digital scrapbooker and Photoshop user, I don't think HP's software offers me many advantages. But if you're new to editing your digital photos or if you'd like to get started with something simple and easy to use, you'll like the HP software. The printer, however, I know I'll continue to use often. I've already gone out and stocked up on more HP printer cartridges and photo paper.

You can buy the HP Photo Printer here for $129. The Photo Books are on sale for 20% off. If you're looking for a nice quality photo printer that isn't too expensive, this is the one. The rich, sharp color and low price make it a great holiday gift bargain.

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Blogger ExPatSW said...

What remarkable timing! I have been researching photo printers and debating whether to try this one or not. I have about a gazillion pics of A and would like to add some to my photo albums. Because it's soooo difficult for me to get to the shops before they close here, I thought this handy-dandy-doo-dad might do it for me. Thanks for the review! (And at $129 that's really, really cheap!)

Blogger PunditMom said...

I'm all over that skinny option! ;)

Blogger Parent said...

Absolutely fabulous! I hadn't discovered that skinny option. Think it can work for a 30+ week pregnant woman???

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