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Printer makers are always looking for improved ways for people to work with their machines. If they can make the printing process simpler and more intuitive, people will print more, use more consumables – where much of the manufacturers’ income lies – and be more likely to return to them when they want to replace their current models. HP’s latest idea is a touch screen, for viewing and selecting prints from memory cards.
The Photosmart D7360 offers a big, 86mm LCD, big enough to show quite a bit of photo detail, which can also display most of the buttons needed to select and print images, to set the printer up and perform maintenance. There are still seven physical buttons, as well as the virtual ones on the screen, for things like starting a print, switching print quality and flipping between portrait and landscape modes.
To the right of the controls is a memory card reader, supporting SD/MM, CompactFlash, Memory Stick and xD cards, but not SmartMedia – a sign that that format’s on the way out. A PictBridge socket sits below the card slots, so you can print directly from your camera, too.
There are two paper trays on the printer, with a standard 100 sheet A4 paper tray supplemented by a separate one for up to 20 sheets of photo paper. Cleverly, the photo paper tray is pulled into the machine automatically when you select to print a photo, and ejected again when the print job is complete.
Lift the lid of the Photosmart D7360 and you have direct access to the six ink cartridges. Using HP’s Vivera inks and permanent print heads, you clip the cartridges into stationary holders and the printer recirculates the inks as needed. Interestingly, the cartridges have different quantities of ink in them, presumably worked out from typical usage patterns on a cross-section of print types.
There’s a good suite of HP software provided with this machine, including Image Zone, Director and ImageShare, which between them cover most of the printing bases. They all install easily from the CD, before connecting the printer.
There are two firmware technologies provided in the machine which can be used to improve your prints, irrespective of the image source. Automatic Red-Eye Removal seeks out the Omen effect in any of your portraits shots, without your having to highlight the offending eyes. Adaptive Lighting helps boost detail in shadowed areas of bright images.
You can use two different kinds of photo paper with the Photosmart D7360, but we strongly recommend using Advanced Photo paper. This is an absorbent paper, so the ink sinks into the surface and dries almost instantly. Photo prints come out with a photographic gloss and a clarity which is as good as we’ve seen from a digital print. Even at fast draft, which is when you approach the 12 seconds per print claimed by HP, print colours are very natural, while remaining full and vibrant.