HP Photosmart 8450 review

Price when reviewed

There’s no doubt that the Photosmart 8450 is an imposing printer. Almost as large as the A3 units on test, it requires a large desk to accommodate its 536 x 400mm footprint. Thankfully, the font-mounted paper trays mean it isn’t as tall as some at just 171mm high.

HP Photosmart 8450 review

The main reason it’s so wide is that it has to accommodate three cartridges: tri-colour, photo and tri-grey. This combination provides the eight inks required for HP’s PhotoREt Pro system, and it delivers amazing quality.

Our judges placed the 8450’s photomontage at the top of the group (along with the 8750’s and 8250’s), because of the incredibly lifelike colour reproduction. At the best quality settings, we saw near-perfect saturation, and it all led to skin tones being realistic, the colour of skies and grass being believable, and mono images having no colour casts.

No grain was visible, even in the technical colour and mono fades, and results were great on every type of paper, including plain. Our Streetmap web page printed with legible street names and hardly any smudging or bleeding of characters. Mono text was as good as we’ve come to expect from HP, although the Canons produced marginally blacker characters. You can print photos on plain paper, but we recommend using HP’s Premium Glossy photo paper if you want the best quality.

Of course, prints will only last without fading if you use proper photo paper and mount them in a frame behind glass. In these conditions, Wilhelm Imaging Research gives the 8450’s photos a permanence rating of 108 years – only Epson comes close.

Running costs are affordable too. Despite not having individual ink tanks, a full set of high-capacity cartridges costs £55, a lot cheaper than the Epson R800’s. You’ll probably get through more tri-grey cartridges than the others, so it’s worth keeping a spare one to hand. Of course, the other advantage the 8450 has over printers that use individual ink tanks is that the print heads are replaced with the cartridges, meaning less wasted ink on nozzle flushing.

And, unlike the R800 or iP8500, the HP offers a 2.5in TFT and card readers for all major memory types, so you can print photos without a PC connected. The 8450 is the only one to boast a 10/100 Ethernet interface for sharing on your network. A Bluetooth module is optional if you want to print without wires.

Naturally, the 8450 can print photos without borders and supports HP’s panoramic photo paper so you can create 100 x 3,000mm vistas.

Speed is the only sore point – 6 x 4in photos take well over two minutes to print. Fortunately, there’s a separate 6 x 4in paper tray, so you can load up to 20 sheets and leave your selection to print while you get on with something else. At normal quality, we saw our text document print at 3.6ppm and a decent 12ppm in Draft mode. The iP8500 beats all of these, though.

Ultimately, if you demand the best quality and aren’t as worried about print speed as the cost of running your printer, the 8450 should be top of your shortlist. The best part is the price, though; at just £132 from Amazon.co.uk, it undercuts its rivals by miles.

Running costs

HP’s top-end printer hasn’t changed for a little over a year now. Besides the glut of features and phenomenal quality, a glance at the 8450’s running costs shows that, while they’re not the lowest here, they’re still competitive. 40p for a 6 x 4in photo is beaten by several printers, but few can match the 8450’s quality, making it more bearable. More notable for enthusiasts is the A4 print cost of £1.36 for a top-quality photo – much cheaper than an enlargement on the high street.

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