HP DeskJet 5550: The Star Of The New Season

HP Wants To Stand Out From The Crowd

HP prides itself on coming up with models that print text and photos of equally good quality. Up until now, nobody seems able to compete with this. Canon, Epson and Lexmark printers are all a bit specialized in some ways, and tend to be optimized for one mode or another.

To take this versatility even further, HP has re-adopted a system tried by many but which has recently been discontinued, especially by Lexmark: combining a set of standard cartridges with photo cartridges. With standard cartridges, the printer works in PhotoRet III, but it is faster and produces perfect text and graphics. With the photo cartridges, printing text is rather tedious and generally less satisfactory. This photo cartridge (#58 in image below) contains non-pigmented, light cyan, light magenta and black ink, instead of the pigmented black (#56 in image below); the photos it prints are, on the other hand, much better. The color cartridge (#57 in image below) is shared by both sets.

The second difference of the Deskjet 5550 compared to its rivals (with the exception of the Lexmark Z65), is a sensor for automatically adjusting the print resolution to the kind of paper used. This is very efficient, and it means that the driver only needs to use four print qualities: Best, Normal, Every Day and Fast Draft. In all four cases, the printer works in PhotoRet III or IV, depending on whether the type of cartridge is standard or photo. The maximum resolution claimed (4800 x 1200 dpi) can only be attained if the sensor is ignored and the paper type chosen manually. Our tests showed that prints at 4800 dpi are not the best and take three or four times longer than those done with PhotoRet IV Best. So the answer is to print in PhotoRet mode.


All the tests were done with both cartridge sets: standard and photo. You can find the full list of tests here .