HP Deskjet 5740
At a Glance
The $100 HP Deskjet 5740 is a simple, reliable inkjet printer. Though not particularly eye-catching, it produces nice-looking prints.
Paper feeds from a 100-sheet-capacity tray at the front that sits below the 50-sheet-capacity output tray. You don't need special perforated paper to print borderless 4-by-6-inch photos: You can use standard 4-by-6-inch photo paper--and the 5740 can print without borders on letter-size paper too. Beneath the cover you'll find slots for two ink cartridges. With the printer you get a black cartridge and a cartridge containing three colored inks, for general-purpose printing. The printer can perform six-color printing, too, but this requires a photo color cartridge (with light versions of cyan and magenta inks) that you have to buy separately and then substitute for the black cartridge.
The 5740 doesn't break any speed records. In our tests, text pages printed at a moderate 5.8 pages per minute, and graphics at 1.5 ppm. Both speeds are slightly above average among inkjets we've tested recently.
The 5740's print quality was good across the board. Text looked sharper than that of the other HP printers we reviewed in December 2004, but bleeding between closely spaced bold lettering was noticeable. Line art looked excellent, with nice straight lines and no banding. Our plain-paper color graphics displayed reasonably faithful colors and had enough detail in dark areas, but they were a bit grainy upon close inspection. On photo paper, the printer performed even better, generating sharp images, natural colors, and plenty of contrast even in darker areas. The grayscale image had a slightly greenish tinge, with smooth gradations and fine detail.
A new set of print heads comes embedded in each ink cartridge, extending the life of the printer, but increasing the cartridges' price: The black cartridge costs $30; the tricolor and photo cartridges, $25 each.
The 5740 comes with a USB 2.0 port for connecting it to your PC, but no parallel port. If you have a digital camera, you may be disappointed that the printer has neither a PictBridge port nor a media card slot. HP software guides you through printing photos, enlargements, and album pages.
The HP Deskjet 5740 won't win any awards for speed or economy; but for all-around print quality, it's a good little performer.