HP Photosmart 475 review

Price when reviewed

If you were designing a deluxe portable photo printer from scratch, you might come up with something very similar to the Photosmart 475. You’d start with the standards: a multitude of memory card readers and a screen on which to view your photos. You’d want internal storage for your images, a USB port so you could hook up everything from flash drives to CD writers, and – to finish it off – the ability to display stored photos as slide shows on a TV.

The Photosmart 475 manages to pull off most of these features with aplomb. The 2.5in screen, while lacking wide viewing angles, is bright and large enough to discern relatively minor details at 100 per cent zoom. Every major memory standard is catered for too, including xD-Picture cards.

But what makes the 475 particularly interesting is its built-in 1.5GB hard disk. We found this surprisingly useful for emptying memory cards, before deciding which shots to keep forever on a PC. You can upload pictures from the printer to PC, or import images from a USB flash drive. You can also export pictures from the printer to a flash drive or USB CD writer; just note that DVD writers aren’t supported.

This printer is attractive to the traveller too. When visiting family or even business clients, you can connect to a TV via a jack, while the included remote control means you don’t need to crouch next to it on the floor. There’s also a battery pack available (£70 RRP), which printed 69 photos in our tests before needing a recharge. An optional £30 Bluetooth dongle is available too – useful for connecting to mobile phones.

Another key advantage the 475 holds over the majority of photo printers is the ability to print to 7 x 5in media, not just 6 x 4in. And it’s cheap to run too. HP claims around 150 6 x 4in photos per tri-colour cartridge, and its Home Photo Pack (code Q7873EE) includes 130 sheets of 6 x 4in paper along with a cartridge for £23 exc VAT from www.davoom.com, translating to about 18p per print. Once printed, HP claims your photos will last for 82 years behind glass, and almost indefinitely in a photo album.

Compared to the latest inkjet printers, speed is a disappointment: we printed five 6 x 4in prints at best quality in eight minutes, 18 seconds, or one minute, 39 seconds per print. But we were more concerned by its image quality. Dye-sub printers, such as the Samsung SPP-2040, produce constant colour gradations, meaning photos are grain-free. The HP 475, however, uses inkjet technology, which is more prone to grain – unfortunately apparent in all our test photos. It won’t be as noticeable from a distance, but it can still be a distraction.

We were also disappointed by colour reproduction. Light colours tended to be blown out to white, which meant images lacked punch and highlight detail was lost. Again, this won’t be obvious to the casual viewer, but it becomes more noticeable when viewing the same photo printed by a high-street developer.

The Photosmart’s print quality is merely adequate, but this is more than balanced by the feature set and realistic price. Add to this the cheap running costs and long life of the prints and the 475 reaches a neat, though imperfect, compromise between price, features and quality.

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