HP Photosmart 8750 review

Price when reviewed

HP’s huge Photosmart 8750 is the only printer on test to use nine inks. Like the 8450, it uses the PhotoREt Pro system, but it takes the 344 tri-colour cartridge (cyan, yellow, magenta); 101 blue photo cartridge (light cyan, light magenta and blue) and a high-capacity 102 (tri-grey) cartridge. These are all included in the box and the advantage of combined cartridges is that replacements come with fresh print heads, eliminating the problem of blocked nozzles in permanent print heads like the Canon iP9950 and Epson R1800’s.

HP Photosmart 8750 review

The front-mounted input tray keeps paper flat and makes it easy to load as well as helping to keep dust at bay. The sturdy output tray is also flat, to prevent prints curling as they dry. This is handy, as the 8750’s photos are tacky for around 48 hours after printing – a fact worth bearing in mind if speed is of the essence. Usefully, there’s also a rear slot feed that provides a completely straight paper path for heavy media. Neither the Canon iP9950 or Epson R1800 offer this feature

Oddly for a printer of this class, there are card readers at the front. The display is a blue-lit dot-matrix affair, not a colour TFT, so the only way to print photos directly is to print a sheet of thumbnails – or multiple sheets if you have a few hundred images on your card. The PictBridge port is more useful, as it lets you attach a digital camera whose TFT then allows you to select which images to print. On the back is a USB 2 interface, plus the only 10/100 Ethernet port of the three A3 printers here; Canon, oddly, doesn’t provide Ethernet on the iP9950 despite including it on the iP8500. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are optional extras.

Quality is outstanding straight out of the box. The A3 photomontage was the pick of the three. With the default best quality settings, we saw the most natural skin tones on test and colour saturation approached perfection. Reds and yellows were much deeper than the R1800’s and this led to more accurate colours. Mono photos too were superb, being very neutral and retaining excellent detail in highlights and shadows.

Contrast wasn’t quite up to the R1800’s standard and images didn’t look as sharp as the Canon’s because of the lower saturation. Of course, the iP9950’s higher saturation had the negative impact of making colours unrealistic. Text, while not an important consideration, wasn’t as sharp as the Canon’s but is fine for the odd letter.

Speed was nothing special – the A4 montage took four minutes, 44 seconds, but the A3 version (strangely) took 18 seconds less at the same quality settings. 6 x 4in photos take even longer than the Photosmart 8450 at two minutes, 18 seconds. Fortunately, fade resistance is nothing to worry about – you won’t be able to notice any change for over 100 years. The 8750 was quicker than the other A3 contenders for draft text, though – it managed a credible 11.1ppm.

If there’s one other gripe, it’s the external PSU. Given the size of the 8750, it’s a shame HP couldn’t fit the large power pack inside it for neatness.

Ultimately, though, neither this or the speed are big problems. If you’re after top-quality A3 prints, built-in networking and want low running costs, the 8750 is for you.

Running costs

We’re used to consumer-level A3 printers being the outsized siblings of a company’s top-end A4 printer: the Epson R1800 is essentially a giant R800 with a slightly wider colour gamut, and the Canon iP9500 is the bigger, uglier brother of the Canon iP8500.

Both printers share their smaller counterpart’s print head and ink systems, but, with nine different colour inks, the HP 8750 isn’t like anything else on test.

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