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You can also select the Get Creative button which offers frames, captions, simple albums and a drawing function. This last enables you to doodle over a photo, using the stylus. Captions are entered by tapping on an on-screen keyboard, though this is arranged in alphabetical order, which is annoying for those who can type. You can pick from several fonts and colours and resize and move the caption on-screen.
HP claims there are over 500 graphic frames built into the printer and from our brief appraisal, they're all singularly ugly. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but they give off a vaguely contemporary, business feel with very little soul. Not the kind of thing you'd want to send to your granny or your mother, unless they were executives of a signage company.
Print speeds were generally very acceptable, with 15 x 10cm prints coming through in just under a minute from both PC and memory card. Printing from a PictBridge camera took around 40 seconds longer, so it's best to take the card out and use it directly.
The printer can work with HP's Premium Plus Photo Paper in both gloss or satin finishes, but is best with its new Advanced paper. Prints are good quality, with plenty of detail and natural reproduction of blues, greens and reds.
Printing in best quality mode takes quite a bit longer than normal mode - our timings were all done in normal mode - and from even close examination there's very little difference in reproduction. Definition may even be slightly better in normal mode.
By far the cheapest way to buy consumables for the Photosmart A826 is in one of HPs Photo Value Packs. You get 120 sheets of 15 x 10cm Advanced Photo Paper, along with a single three-colour cartridge for well under £20; the cheapest we could find was just £17.43. This gives a cost per print of 14.5p, not quite down at the headline Kodak level, but close to the price you pay Kodak if using paper of similar thickness and quality.
The option to print 18 x 13cm prints for special occasions is a useful bonus and the only gripe we really have - assuming you don't want to frame your photos - is the price point. Even at Internet prices we couldn't find it for less than £173, which seems high for a dedicated photo printer, even given the extra cost of the large touch-screen. We'd like to see it somewhere between £130 and £150.
The Photosmart A826 is a lovely little machine for anybody wanting a standalone photo printer in their living room. It excels at producing photos cheaply and quickly with a minimum of fuss but even so, as £173, it's over priced.
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