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★★★★★

“Well, the office has gone out and bought another...”

Written on: 30/07/2004 by gusgusrule (1 review written)

Good Points
Attractive, stylish and modern design
Wide range of extensive features
Print photographs without the need of a computer
Excellent photographic quality printing with 4800* optimised dpi
Fast printing speeds - up to 21 ppm
Easy to Use

Bad Points
Paper Jams every so often
Expensive to purchase
Expensive consumables

General Comments
Well, the office has gone out and bought another printer! As if we haven't got enough!? This however is a true printer and one to get excited about! The thing I like about the HP Photosmart 7960 is it offers exceptional graphic quality yet it is available for the home user. In our office, we quite frequently purchase large proof printers that cost us into the thousands, these are really professional printers that one would not typically buy for the home PC (for start they might not fit in your study!) Now however, companies are bringing out small renditions of what are essentially graphics printers, on a much smaller scale, the HP Photosmart 7960, in my view point is one of these.





Why HP?





The main standard printers which we use in the office are Epson models, mainly because they are relatively cheap to buy and the consumables are cheap (especially compatible ones) But for a change, it was decided that we'd try a HP. Hewlett Packard are a large trans-national corporation with a good reputation behind them. They've recently bought the computer manufacturer "Compaq" and are expanding even further across the globe as they endeavour to become a lead manufacturer in the IT industry, of which arguably they already are to an extent. So having this knowledge behind this, it seemed obvious that the manufacturers support would be relatively good and in buying a good brand we wouldn't have too many difficulties.





DESIGN





This is no doubt, one striking printer. Its silver in colour and has a large screen on the front for viewing photographs. When you turn the printer on you are met with a welcome screen saying "welcome to hp photosmart - hp invent" When the screen is on set against the stylish silver design it really does look a beauty. It's quite large too, but this adds to the design, in my opinion big is definitely beautiful! Being in a large office however size was not a restraint for us, but if you are buying the printer for home use, be aware its bigger than the standard inkjet printer. Its 20 inch in width, 15 inch deep and about 8 inch tall, the whole unit together weighs approximately 20 pounds.





FEATURES





Now this is the exciting bit! The hp photosmart 7960 is not your average bog standard printer. The printer has many extra features making it the perfect solution for digital photographers. Do you have a digital camera? Do you print your photographs at home often? Then this is the printer for you.



You simply take the memory card out of your camera and place it into the memory card slots on the front, it takes approximately 7 or 8 different cards including CompactFlash Type I and II and Microdrive, SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Cards and also Memory Sticks (Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro, Magic Gate) and XD picture cards. If you don't want to mess around unplugging your memory cards and what forth, then simply plug your camera into the handy USB port also located on the front of the printer.



When you place the card in you will be greeted with a message stating "reading card" and then suddenly, as if by magic all your photographs will appear on the screen in front of your eyes. Now when I first heard about these printers I thought the screen would be tiny and the quality would be terrible, how wrong was I? The screen is actually quite large (about 2 inch by 2 inch) thus probably bigger than the screen on your digital camera itself. The quality is also excellent, it's really bright which means colours show greatly and I could make out even the finest details on pictures.



When you've browsed the images you can simply print one by pressing the large "print button" or you can edit it first, the printer allows you to adjust brightness, add a photo frame and add colour effects before printing. You can also watch a slideshow on the printer, adjust the quality of printing, print sample and test pages to get an idea of what your final prints will look like, so essentially you can play around a bit before you print them off. I'll touch more on the quality of the printing in the next section.



I must also emphasise that this is all from the printer itself, my computer isn't on, the printer works as a stand alone which means you don't need a computer to work it, you could simply buy one of these and use it for photo printing regardless of whether or not you have a printer. You can also pick and choose which photos you want to print and adjust the size, number of copies, add the date and time etc. Essentially, the printer is a computer in itself!! You won't believe what you can do, hp have developed their own operating system...for an inkjet printer! Sounds unreal but it's true.



If you do decide to connect the printer to the computer however and use with your PC then you have more added features. You can press "save" on the printer and it will take all the photographs on the card or on the camera connected to the printer and save them to your computer. From another button you can "email" the photographs and from four other simple buttons, you can adjust photo size, the number of copies, zoom in or out and rotate the pictures.



Another good feature of this printer is that it enables you to have 3 ink cartridges in at once. There are four different ink cartridges for this printer , you have your standard black, and standard colour, then "photographic black" and "photographic colour." The printer enables you to have up to three of these cartridges in at any one time; essentially giving up to seven different ink colours (with two colours and a black.) You may consider why the printer needs four cartridges; it doesn't. You can run the printer just as well on a standard colour and black cartridge, as with most printers and the photo quality will still be good. To benefit from the exceptional photographic quality however, it may be a good idea to buy the photographic cartridges. Okay, its extra money but I can guarantee you'll be impressed by the quality.



The options are endless, this is perfect for the digital camera user and you will be amazed by just what you can do on it, you'll never look at a printer in the same way again!





QUALITY





Okay, so enough of the fancy features, lets look at the quality of the print outs, essentially what you buy the printer for! The quality is amazing, it's good enough for a graphic design company for a start which is why we use it! The photographs are beautiful with bright colours and the images really stand out, the actual resolution is up to 4800 optimized dots per inch resolution in colour, i remember my first printer was 300 dpi! Things have come a long way since then! When our boss first tried out the printer by printing a couple of family pics, when showing us all we thought he'd got them from the developers down the road! The quality is really that good, and borderless printing means that they look just like they've been professionally developed. The printer also uses HP PhotoRET Pro technology, adding to the emphasis on quality.



In black the resolution is 1200-rendered dpi black, which is perfect for everyday documents. This printer is ideal for photographic printing yet at the same time will provide you with all the needs of your basic inkjet, simple letter printing etc.





COMPATIBILITY





As stated already, the printer is compatible with a wide range of media cards and flash cars etc. You may want to use it with your computer however, in which case it is compatible with

Microsoft Windows 98, Me, 2000 Professional, XP Home and Professional, you simply connect the printer via USB to your computer.

It also works on Macs as well though, Macintosh OS 9.1 or later, OS X v 10.1 and v 10.2





PRINTING SPEEDS





Now years ago when printers first came out it was always a compromise between quality of printouts and speed. You could get a really good quality printer but it would take hours to print, or you could get poor quality print outs but at high speeds. Thankfully, there's no need to compromise any longer. This printer is really fast, but obviously takes longer for photographs. Plain black text prints at speeds of up to 21 pages per minute in draft and 7 ppm in normal mode. Draft colour speeds are about 16 ppm, and 5 ppm in normal mode. It takes about a minute to produce a full page high quality photograph. The maximum recommended volume is 3000 pages per month; but even we don't print that much in a 9 - 5 office environment.

The photosmart 7960, is an excellent quality printer yet still retains the fast speeds of most modern inkjets.





RELIABILITY





So far, we have had very little problems with the printer; its reliable, it prints whenever we want it to and that is essential in a working environment. When we first got the printer we did have a reoccurring problem of paper jams, it would happen once every ten or so prints. It does it very little now however; perhaps it was the paper we were using or the printer was not rightly configured. There was a phase when it did happen though, we had to remove the top cover and pull the paper out, meanwhile the ink cartridge also jammed half way across the printer so as we pulled the paper out, ink was spilling. This could have been a major problem if it hadn't had stopped we may have had to take it back however, I think "teething troubles" is the best word for it, we've had no problems since.





EASE OF USE





The printer is really easy to use; with or without a computer. Without you simply put in your memory cards and use the easy menu buttons and the LCD screen. With a computer, HP offers a generous sharing of software to make the printer fully compatible with your computer and with good editing programs for photo enhancement.



The instruction manual provided was very useful, everything you need to know how to work the more advanced features like the menu and screen to the more simple things of changing cartridges.





COST/ VALUE FOR MONEY





Well after copious amounts of positive aspects; its a shame that there's always a downside. In this case, it is the cost. The printer are £249.99 new, in relation to some base model inkjets this is about five times more expensive. Also, for about £299.99 (an extra £50) you can get an A3 printer, which are obviously likely to be more expensive than the A4 ones. Despite this high price tag, I want you to remind yourselves of the features however that this printer has to offer; the LCD screen for a start probably puts another £100 on the price tag, there's also the memory card slots, hps excellent PhotoRET Pro quality etc etc.



If the cost is really putting you off however; there's the model down from it which is just as good. The HP Photosmart P7762 prints slightly slower (lack 2 pages or so a minute) and the screen is about 1.5 inches as opposed to 2 inches however you do save £50. This model retails at £199.99 however Keep your eyes open! For some reason, maybe they've got surplus stocks but it keeps popping up in the PC WORLD sales! It was in the boxing day sale and the recent Easter sale for just £99.99! Now that is a true bargain.



The consumables for the printer are also expensive. The standard black and colour cartridges cost about £30 each, as do the photographic cartridges, so when you go out and purchase 4 new cartridges its going to cost you nearly £120! Another problem is also that compatibles are hard to find for hp printers. Unlike Epson, hp's cartridges come with a new print head each buy which means they are more expensive for the cheaper companies to copy. Most Epson printer cartridges cost about £20 each genuine, however compatibles are more like £10 each, plus you only need two cartridges, which means just £20 for a new supply of ink, that means there's a difference of approximately £100 between buying ink for.

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