- Review Price: £257.00
There appears to be a sort of unwritten law which says wide carriage printers are used by graphics professionals, who pooh-pooh any of the light-hearted fripperies of their standard carriage counterparts. These are Real People, who don’t need memory card slots, LCD displays or PictBridge sockets. Thank goodness HP realises the truth; that graphics professionals are more likely to be using digital cameras than most of the rest of us and are just as likely to want to print pictures from them, only bigger.
The Photosmart 8750 Professional can print at widths up to A3+, but also down to 15 x 10cm. It uses HP’s classic design where paper is loaded into a feed tray at the front, performs a 180 degree turn, is printed on and feeds out to a secondary tray directly above the first. In this case, to save desk space, the feed tray is extendable. If you’re feeding A4 paper, it pulls out just a bit, but if you need to print A3+ you pull it out all the way. The output tray telescopes, so you can adjust its length to match.
Loading 15 x 10cm print sheets into such a large printer can be a problem, but HP has developed a little extending finger, which pushes small paper into the bowels of the machine as you close the tray.
Click on a small panel at the back of the top cover and an LCD monitor and control buttons swivels into view – very Thunderbirds. While this doesn’t go the whole hog and include a colour LCD, it does provides status information and indicate the photos you have selected to print from a card or camera. There are memory card slots for all the major types of card and a PictBridge socket for direct camera connection. The printer will happily produce a sheet of thumbnails and you can then type in the numbers you want to print. Not as convenient as previewing on a colour screen, but at least you can print from cards, without powering up your PC.
You can connect the Photosmart 8750 Professional via USB 2.0 or Ethernet sockets and installing the support software is fairly painless. The printer driver, as you might expect, offers a huge range of different paper sizes and you can set up print parameters and save these as custom configurations, if you need special settings regularly.
You might expect a printer of this size and at this price to print pretty quickly and it does so for larger prints. For simple text pages, admittedly not its specialism, it’s not that quick, though, taking two minutes six seconds to complete a five-page test document. The text and graphics test took even longer at two minutes 43 seconds and an A3 version of this document, again printing five copies, took four minutes 22 seconds. Not quick.
The Photosmart needed two minutes 26 seconds to print a 15 x 10cm photo print at best quality, which is pretty slow, but you can select normal quality and get one out in a more reasonable one minute 33 seconds. Finally, the ultimate test, an A3+ borderless print at best quality takes 10 minutes five seconds, a better result.
Print quality from the nine-colour Vivera ink system is very good. The nine colours are C,M,Y, photo cyan, photo magenta, blue and three shades of grey. Our test image was very well reproduced, showing a lot of detail in shadowed areas, which other printers struggled to distinguish. Details in the foreground are extremely sharp and the smooth transition in the sky is also well handled. We can see little difference between normal and best mode prints, so you might as well save time by printing everything in normal mode.
It’s not easy to work out the colour running costs of this machine. Black text is fairly straightforward, as you can plug-in a single black cartridge in place of the triple grey one, especially for printing text pages. The cost then comes out at just over 2.02p per five per cent A4 page, which is very reasonable.
With colour, things aren’t helped by HP’s reluctance to quote page yield for the triple blue photo or the triple grey cartridges, preferring to just quote 450 pages for the tri-colour one. Use of the other two of course depends on the colour balance of the images you’re printing, but without some kind of guidance, all we can do is to assume a worst-case, where all three cartridges are spent at the end of 450 pages. The cost per page is still only 32.6p, though, and that’s theoretically for a 45 per cent cover page and with a paper cost of 21.6p. This is an inexpensive printer to run.
The Photosmart 8750 Professional is a very versatile printer, which can handle a wide variety of sizes and types of media. It produces very good print at reasonable costs and, unlike most of its main competitors, provides useful facilities for quick photo prints from cards and cameras. At the price, it has a lot going for it.
Score in detail
Print Speed 7
Print Quality 9