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HP Photosmart A636 Photo Printer review

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HP Photosmart A636 Photo Printer
  • HP Photosmart A636 Photo Printer
  • HP Photosmart A636 Photo Printer
  • HP Photosmart A636 Photo Printer
  • HP Photosmart A636 Photo Printer
  • HP Photosmart A636 Photo Printer

Summary

Our Score:

8

HP’s Photosmart A636 could just be the most innovative photo printer we’ll see this year. While at first sight it looks like any of the other, toaster-inspired dedicated ink-jet printers the company has produced in the last couple of years, on closer inspection, it includes a couple of spectacular improvements over what's gone before.

Coloured in black and light grey the design follows the HP tradition. It has a cover that opens at the back to take up to 20 photo blanks loaded nearly vertically and a front cover which folds down to reveal four memory card sockets and one for PictBridge, as well as a wider than normal 13cm slot for prints to feed out from.

We say 13cm, as HP claims the machine can print 18 x 13cm photos, but in reality it’s 7 x 5-inch, smaller by several millimetres in both directions. We know, because we didn't have any 18 x 13cm blanks and cut some down from A4 sheets of HP Advanced Paper… and they wouldn't fit the Photosmart A636.

It's the top of the printer which shows the most innovation as it uses what HP refers to as a 120mm touch screen. While this is technically correct, as this is the diagonal of the touch screen, the LCD display behind it is only 85mm and has a large, black border around it, with six illuminated icons for things like scrolling through images and navigating menus.

It’s not often we get to write the words ‘this printer is radically different in the way it installs’. Installation isn’t normally something anybody pays much attention to, but the Photosmart A636 has been re-engineered. The first inkling of this is the complete lack of a support CD.

All you do to set the printer up for PC printing is plug it into a USB port. Windows recognises it and downloads all the necessary software from the printer. The driver is held in the printer’s firmware and copies and installs as soon as you plug the printer in. It’s ideal for a portable machine like this, as you can plug it into almost any Windows PC and print photos from the computer, immediately. We reckon it would be a good selling point for just about any USB-based printer.

jay 3

September 13, 2008, 2:01 am

No offence to the reviewer of this product but I wish you would have added that using a try colored Cartridge is very costly. Because when you run out of one color you have to replace the cartridge even if there are enough of the other two colors to print more images. HP knows this and they make a killing on these types of Cartridges. In this case it can be even more costly as this unit does not have a black Cartridge. When it prints an image with a black or very dark background this product uses a composite black which means it will use some of each color to print black which in turn uses even more ink. Just wanted to point this out.

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