Back in June last year we took a look at the HP Photosmart 375 photo printer. It produced quite reasonable prints but they came at a relatively high cost. Nearly a year later HP has released the Photosmart 475, the next model in this series. The design is essentially the same and the basic functionality of the printer hasn't made any real advancements, but what looks like a very similar unit hides some more than welcome additions.
- Attractive design, Excellent colour, 1.5GB hard drive, Varied connectivity options
- Blacks could have been better
The HP Photosmart 475 is an attractive and portable unit that will more than suffice for someone looking for a solution to photo printing on the move.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
The HP Photosmart 475 is a compact photo printer designed for those that long to print their photos without time consuming trips to a photo lab. The concept is a stripped down printer that specialises in small prints created with simplicity. The Photosmart 375 was only compatible with 4x6 prints but the 475 can now print 5x7 borderless prints as well. The image quality is quite reasonable although not perfect. Colour separation was quite good and sharp rich colours were commonplace but problems occurred in dark portions of an image. Since the device uses a tri-colour ink tank, it has no black and needs to mix colours to create darker elements. This can be problematic, since the blacks are not true blacks and it becomes evident in high detail, low light images. The result is areas of patchy colour and blocky textures. This being said, for the most part, we were quite satisfied with the image quality.
The unit is lightweight and designed to be portable. It has a carry handle and at the push of a button, the front and rear of the unit gracefully open to reveal the input and output paper slots. The front panel opens completely to allow the paper to exit the front of the device. Behind this panel also lie the four media card slots and the Pict-Bridge connector. The Photosmart 475 supports SD, xD, MMC and Compact Flash cards. The Pict-Bridge slot is used to connect directly to a camera but can also be used with a USB memory stick. The great thing about all these memory slots is that they are detected in Windows independent of the printer as removable storage which not only gives you a spare flash memory HUB, but it makes moving images around your various devices a whole lot easier.
Another new feature, and perhaps the biggest improvement over the Photosmart 375 is the inclusion of a 1.5GB hard drive. Perfect for quickly storing your images from your camera or archiving your photos, we felt that the hard drive was a great idea and added value to the printer as well as furthering its practicality as a portable device. The printer can be connected to a PC via USB as well, but disappointingly, it can only reach USB 1.1 speeds.
A focus of the Photosmart 475 seems to be connectivity and not only to input media. The printer also outputs to a television or projector via a simple cable enabling it to do slideshows from either a memory card, camera or from the hard drive. This is a fun addition to the unit's repertoire but isn't particularly groundbreaking. However, the television functions can be manipulated via an included remote control, which works quite well and is very convenient. The 475 also comes with Bluetooth connectivity out of the box, which is a nice touch.
We tested the printer to ascertain how many prints could be made per ink cartridge and by extension, the cost per print. We have based these figures purely on 4x6 prints and under the assumption that you are purchasing the $49.95 paper and cartridge combo pack. The combo pack contains one tri-colour ink jet cartridge and 100 sheets of paper. The cartridge is usually $42.95 and the paper regularly sells for $16.95 per 20 sheets. By purchasing the combo pack you will save around $78 so it really is quite a remarkable bargain. We produced 86 prints on one ink cartridge. Based on the cost of the combo pack, this works out to 58 cents per print. This is a dramatic improvement over the older Photosmart 375 which, only a year ago was much higher, but it still is not cheaper than getting your prints done at a photo lab. However when you consider the convenience of being able to print your own photos and the amount of time and effort you will save by doing so, the Photosmart 475 does have its strong points.
We also performed a stopwatch test to mark how long it takes, on average, to print one photo. We timed five prints of varying degrees of colour and paper fill using an average of those results. The average time for a photo to be printed on this device is two minutes and 39 seconds. This is quite slow when compared to other models on the market and especially when the 60-70 second print times of some dye-sub printers are taken into consideration.
The unit has a 2.5-inch screen which becomes available when the front and rear panels are lowered. This screen is extremely useful and used to preview and select images to be printed. Each image is tagged for printing, then when you are satisfied with your selection all you need do is press print and the Photosmart plunges into the job. This screen is also used for the basic image editing elements of the firmware. While it isn't comparable to programs like Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0, Ulead Photoimpact 10 or even Gimp 2.2.10, the image editing can correct minor problems with an image such as low brightness or contrast and can fix red eye. All the menus accessible on the screen are very easy to understand and simple to use and while having a screen on a photo printer isn't an innovation by any means, HP has done a reasonable job with their version.
The HP Photosmart 475 is an attractive and portable unit that will more than suffice for someone looking for a solution to photo printing on the move. For added portability HP also offer a battery pack and car power adapter so you can take the unit on the road or traveling. If you are looking for a printer that produces attractive images at a reasonable cost, this could be the unit for you. The 1.5GB hard drive is certainly a selling point and the ease of use and cheap paper/ink deals also cement our recommendation.
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