Physical set up is pretty simple, even though you’re configuring two pieces of kit.
The camera just needs its twin AA NiMH batteries slotted in and you can then charge it up by plugging it into the cradle on top of the printer. The printer itself needs its own battery, an ink cartridge and some paper stacked in the feed tray at the back.
If you want to connect the printer to a PC, install the driver software and Image Zone 5 application and then plug in via the USB 2.0 cable, provided. If you want to connect to a TV for slideshows, there’s a cable for that, too and even an infra red remote control.
It’s unusual to find a printer which prints faster than the claims made by its manufacturer. The Photosmart 422 does. We produced a print from the camera in 1:56, slightly less then the two minutes quoted and one from a PC in 1:44. Good times, though still slower than from an equivalent Epson photo printer.
Print quality is variable. We know printers in the Photosmart 4xx range can produce very high quality output and we saw this from our PC-generated prints. When we printed straight from the M415 camera, though, we saw micro-banding and noticeable noise, even in prints with no digital zoom applied.
The Photosmart printer can use either the 343 or 344 colour cartridges, both tri-colour but with different ink capacities. The 100, tri-grey cartridge can also be used, though for some reason HP quotes half the number of prints of the high-capacity colour cartridge, odd when the 100 holds more ink.
Costs come out at 22p for a colour print and 30p for a black and white. The colour cost is good, but we see little reason for the black and white to cost more. These prices use cartridges from 7dayshop.com, which claims to charge no VAT. We’re not sure how HM Customs and Excise will view this.
This could have been one of the bargains of the year in entry-level digital photography, if only print quality from the camera were better. As it is, the camera is hard to focus and printed output is often grainy.