HP Photosmart D7160 review

Price when reviewed

Unlike all the other print engines this month, HP’s six-ink system doesn’t have the ink tanks on the print head itself, speeding back and forth as the image is produced. Instead, the tanks clip in from the front and remain static, with the ink transferred into the print head’s reservoirs only when required. This not only reduces the weight of the moving print head, thus limiting vibration, but it also allows the print head to pump excess ink back into the tanks.

HP Photosmart D7160 review

The efficiency of this method is clear to see in our rundown tests: once we’d installed standard inks (the starter inks have a special lubricant to prime the printer for first use), only the yellow tank ran out in less than 200 prints, and the cyan made it past 450. This gives the D1760 and D7360 a 6 x 4in print cost of 29p, a figure no other A4 printer can match.

And that low running cost is paired with high-quality results. Edges are crisp, skin tones are warm but realistic, and the amount of detail in prints is excellent. Only once did we see a slight loss of detail in darker areas, but all but pros will be more than happy with the quality produced by this printer.

One of the D7160’s biggest strengths is quality on plain paper, as shown by its flawless reproduction of the five-page ISO document. Tables, graphs, even white text on coloured backgrounds were handled with aplomb, and the mono text quality was almost as high.

But the HP printers fall behind the Canons when it comes to photo speed, as 1min 41secs for a 6 x 4in print is more than twice the time of the Labs-winning iP5300. Document speeds are much better, though: the standard mono rate of 4.2ppm beats all but the Lexmark, while 16.2ppm in draft mode is the best on test.

So it’s a close call between the D1760 and the iP5300. The Canon produces slightly better prints thanks to its pigment-based black, and also trounces the HP for photo speed. But the D7160’s document speeds and lower running costs compensate, and with the advantage of an LCD screen, a 6 x 4in photo paper tray and a set of memory card slots it’s a good alternative if you’ll take advantage of these extra features.

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