HP quotes draft print speeds of 33ppm for black and 32ppm for colour print – it doesn’t appear to have caught up with the new ISO standard yet. In fact, in normal use you should expect nearer 7.5ppm for black text and 4.0ppm for colour.
Like other recent HP machines, there’s a lot of ‘fiddling about’, with various squeezing and priming noises going on before print starts. We measured a full half minute before the printer started producing our 20-page text sample.
If you print duplex pages, the wait is even longer, as the machine pauses for 16 seconds between the two sides of each sheet, to allow for ink drying. This means that in our 20-side duplex test, which took 7:31 to complete, over two and a half minutes was spent thumb twiddling, while we watched the ink dry.
As well as being able to print on both sides of the paper, the Photosmart Premium can scan both sides of a two-sided document in one job, so it can perform a complete duplex copy, though a single page copied in this way took 1:35. By contrast, photo print speeds are pretty good, with a 15 x 10cm borderless photo coming through in about a minute.
HP’s photo prints are singularly good, with smooth contours, colours which look the part and good detail in low or bright light areas of an image. Text on plain paper is also very crisp and colour graphics are clean and well-saturated. A colour photocopy from the flatbed showed less colour fade than many of its rivals.
We did see a couple of problems during testing, the first when printing an image from an SD card, where selecting a single copy caused a mini blue screen, lots of flashing lights on the control panel and the need to switch off and switch on again. Also, when printing photos, a misfeed of HP Advanced photo paper caused a major jam of the print carriage, which had to be corrected by delving inside the printer.
The five print cartridges are each available in two capacities and, as usual, we used the high yield versions to get the best economy when calculating running costs. The figures came out at 3.76p for black print and 9.42p for colour, both including 0.7p for paper. Both costs are on the high side, with the black cost being quite a bit over the norm for this class of machine. Kodak’s ESP 9, for example, manages 2.44p for black print on the same test.
First impressions of the Photosmart Premium are very good and it’s certainly a well-styled machine with a lot of extras. Direct CD and DVD print, duplex paper handling and duplex scanning should make the machine a very effective small-business tool. Unfortunately, when you get to use these features you find they are slow and not particularly well implemented. It’s a shame, as HP all-in-ones have often been the benchmark against which other brands are measured.