HP Photosmart D5160 review

Price when reviewed

Two of HP’s printers this month weigh in at the same £60 price point, but they’re very different beasts. While the D7160 uses the same six-ink system as the dearer D7360, the D5160 sticks with HP’s previous generation of cartridges: one tri-colour and a choice between black or photo for the other slot.

HP Photosmart D5160 review

The effect this has on print quality isn’t massive, with both systems having their respective strengths, but it does have an impact on print costs. The two cartridges can’t hold the same capacity of ink as the six tanks of the D7160, and ran out after just 117 (tri-colour) and 135 (photo) prints respectively. And, you’ll have to replace both before the very first colour runs dry on a D7160.

They’re also expensive, resulting in a cost per 6 x 4in photo of 41p, which undercuts the Epson printers, but doesn’t exactly make the HP good value. This value is lessened further, as there’s only a two-line LCD screen, which isn’t much use for printing photos, but at least there’s a CD and DVD printing tray instead.

The D5160 also lags behind the other HPs in terms of 6 x 4in speed, taking more than 2 minutes to print a photo at best quality. Compared to the whole group, though, it’s a reasonably fast printer. 3mins 6secs for an A4 photo is faster than all but the Canons, and 14.6ppm for good-quality draft text is plenty quick enough for most users.

As for photo quality, the D5160 can’t quite match the dearer models in the group, but can certainly hold its own. Our outdoor photos showed plenty of detail in the garden scene, and the neutral tone of the mono photo was the best of the bunch. However, skin tones showed up the biggest deficiency of the two-cartridge engine, as it lacked the warmth of the D7160 and D7360. Also, in draft mode, text was blurred, indicating an alignment problem while printing at speed.

HP’s five-star rating for reliability in our Reliability & Service Awards 2006 somewhat compensates for the disappointing return-to-base warranty. But looking at the entire package, although the D5160 is a good printer in its own right, we simply can’t see a reason to choose it when the D7160 sports a superior-quality and more economical ink system for exactly the same price.

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