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A Standalone, at a Price: hp photosmart 7350

Speed Results

Here again, we ran the tests with the photo cartridge. This partly explains why the printer is so slow. Still, in view of its ranking, the most important thing to note is that a 10 x 15 cm print takes 2 minutes and 40 seconds when the printer is run from a computer and about 3 minutes in standalone mode.

Cynics will remind you that this is half as fast as a Canon, and the more sanguine will say that it is twice as fast as an Epson. Actually, it's about average.

But remember - you do end up saving time with a Canon, because you don't need to set the driver. Here, the printer's sensor does it all by itself: paper selection and resolution are automatic.

Another point is the length of time needed to print out text. The recent Canon i850 is up to four times faster...

Quality

The big surprise is that photos printed out via a computer are better than the photos printed out in standalone mode. You may not notice it straight off, but a closer look reveals that the ink drops are visible, especially in the lightest areas. This factor detracts quite a lot from the advantage of card readers, and hence from the printer itself. You might just as well stick with the photosmart 7150 (which costs $149, versus $179 for the 7350). When it comes down to it, card readers are not going to attract that many users. Only those who don't intend to touch up their photos at all (not even red eyes, brightness, levels, etc.), or who are in a hurry or afraid of getting involved with drivers are going to be interested.

Still, on the subject of the photo cartridge, you should know that the text and compound documents it prints on low-weight paper are not as good as those done with the optional black cartridge, which costs US$20 (€26.50). Now, if you do buy a black cartridge, you will find that the prints are pretty much perfect. The characters are precise, the black is deep and, unlike other makes of printer, the ink does not soak into the paper too much. This makes two-sided printing a perfectly feasible option.

Text is printed using a standard set of cartridges, then a photo cartridge set, where the black loses depth.