HP Photosmart A516 review
Photo printers: Picture 1
Print stunning 6 x 4in photos from the comfort of your desk. We take a look at five miniature digital darkrooms
Dedicated photo printers are the ultimate in convenience. Each 6 x 4in photo may cost a little more than online or high-street stores – and you have to pay for the printer as well of course – but you can hand out prints to friends and family almost instantly.
Print quality can be just as good too, and the latest models claim to resist fading, smudging, water, stains and just about anything else you can throw at a photo. There are two technologies. Inkjet printers are generally cheaper per photo, but images can appear grainy. Dye-sub printers use continuous tone, which avoids grain, but they’re susceptible to dust and can leave spots on prints if you don’t keep them clean. Prints tend to be more resistant to smudging, though.
The price-per-photo figures shown above are based on the biggest available cartridge/paper packs, which offer better value than smaller packs. As always, these aren’t based on list prices: we’ve scoured the internet to find the cheapest option.
All of the printers come with a cartridge and paper to get you going, but some are more stingy than others. Canon, Kodak and Sony include only five prints, while HP includes five sheets of paper and a starter ink cartridge, which will print considerably more than five photos.
The Lexmark P350 is more generous with 20 sheets of paper and a starter cartridge. It’s an inkjet and, unlike previous models, sports a USB port for connection to a PC. It also supports PictBridge cameras (like all five models here) and all types of memory card, including xD-Picture cards. The 2.4in TFT is the biggest here and makes the P350 easy to use. You can edit photos and choose from a variety of layouts, but the red-eye removal button proved ineffective. And the P350 is slow: it takes 2mins 16secs for each photo. Quality isn’t great either: colours are muddy and oversaturated, making skin tones look overly red. Prints are the cheapest here at 12p each, but with the P350 costing £85 and with the below average quality we can’t recommend it.
The pearlescent white Canon Selphy CP730 is one of the more attractive printers and can be powered by batteries (like the HP and Kodak) for a totally mobile photo lab. We like the neat retractable mini-USB cable for PictBridge-compliant cameras. There’s a standard PictBridge USB port too and a Type B USB port for PC connection. The 2in TFT is fine, but there’s no menu – everything is controlled by six buttons around the screen. Options are fairly limited – you can crop but not edit or remove red-eye.
At 25p per photo, the Selphy’s quality was below par. We noticed a green cast in all photos compared to other printers, making grass look radioactive and skies and skin tones unnatural. Prints take 55 seconds, which is reasonably speedy, but overall the Selphy can’t match the Sony for quality or value.
The Kodak EasyShare G600 is bigger than previous EasyShare models, with a similar footprint to the Lexmark. It comes with a USB cable and five sheets of Kodak Xtralife paper. Despite the price, there’s no display or card reader, as it’s designed to have a Kodak camera docked on top. You can also connect any PictBridge camera, whose TFT becomes the display, or hook the G600 up to a PC.
Photos take 60 seconds to print and, as with the Canon and Sony, the paper passes through four times for cyan, magenta, yellow and a protective gloss coat. The problems are price and quality. Prints are 30p each, but aren’t stunning. Colours are adequate, but any artefacts in the original photo are accentuated in the print.