HP PhotoSmart 8150 review
HP’s 8150 is either a four or six-ink printer depending on which combination of cartridges you use, and there are plenty to choose from. It’s compatible with 338 and 339 (high-capacity) black for text, 343 and 344 (high-capacity) tricolour cartridges, the 348 photo and 100 photo grey cartridges. A tricolour cartridge must always be present but any of the above may join it in the second bay.
The general capacities of these cartridges are slightly lower than the old 56, 57, 58 and 59 system but, when combined with a smaller drop size, are reckoned to produce equal coverage. The new design comes in tandem with alleged greater print speeds and fade resistance. The latter was already one of HP’s strong points, but as these inks are so new, we’ll have to wait until our photos have survived our own fade tests to confirm just how good they are.
Certainly, the quality of photographs is up to the high standard set before. Colours, fades, and transitions were all produced immaculately, with minimal grain. The photo grey cartridge also produces excellent mono prints – only the R800 could match it.
Speed is above average, with 6 x 4in and A4 photos appearing in two minutes and four-and-a-quarter minutes respectively. Text was among the best on show, both in standard and draft, and appeared at decent rates of 4.8 and 13.5ppm.
For £126 it’s something of a bargain. It even includes HP’s standalone print function thanks to the 2.5in TFT and media card readers, which support xD-Picture Cards. You can print an index sheet where you tick which photos you want (and what size you want them) before letting the printer scan your choices and print them out.
Running costs can also prove to be attractive. If you can find HP’s special bundle, which includes a 344 tricolour cartridge and 130 6 x 4in sheets of Premium Plus Glossy Photo Paper, the price of a 6 x 4in print is just 38.5p. But, if you’re buying high-capacity cartridges and 50-packs of paper, a 6 x 4in print will cost 60.6p and £1.98 for A4. This price will rise if you’re using lower-capacity cartridges and smaller packs of paper.
Ultimately, direct printing makes the 8150 an easy-to-use machine for almost anyone, while it offers the high-quality prints that more advanced users can benefit from. Hopefully, prints won’t fade and, if you can’t afford the Epson R800, it makes a good choice.