HP Photosmart Plus Prints Great-Looking Output Quickly and Cheaply
At a Glance
The HP Photosmart Plus color inkjet multifunction printer is well priced for student and home users ($150 as of December 9, 2009). It also pumps out great-looking output quickly--something that few other models in its price class can achieve.
HP makes things easy from the get-go. The installation wizard includes a library of animated instructions for setup and basic operation. The control panel features a 2.3-inch color LCD, surrounded by touch-sensitive LED buttons that light only when needed. Menu items include how-to animations, as well as troubleshooting instructions for clearing paper jams, replacing cartridges, and other everyday tasks.
The Photosmart Plus printed quickly and well in our tests, generating 8.9 pages per minute for plain text and 4 ppm for graphics. On plain paper, text looked crisp; even photos looked sharp and smooth, improving even more when we printed on HP's own glossy paper. The unit's scanning speeds were slower than average, but images were realistic and detailed. Although a text scan was slightly fuzzy, the Photosmart Plus rendered fine lines better than any inkjet MFP we've seen to date.
While the performance is impressive, the feature set is pretty basic. Wi-Fi connectivity is a bonus, as is the second, 20-sheet photo-paper tray. The 125-sheet input tray is more pedestrian, but adequate; its lid serves as the 50-sheet output area (and houses the photo tray). The output tray's extension arm is sturdy, and you'll need it: My printed pages slid off the edge otherwise. This model has no automatic duplexing; check out the Canon Pixma MP560 if you want that feature (and cheaper ink). Two media slots accommodate Memory Stick, SD Card, and XD-Picture Card media, and the machine has a PictBridge port. HP sells a Bluetooth adapter for $20.
The ink costs are better than you'd expect for a low-cost MFP. A 250-page black cartridge and 300-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges ship in the box. The standard-size ink cartridges have nicely midrange pricing, but the high-yield versions are the best deal. An 800-page black cartridge costs $35 (4.4 cents per page for black text), and each 750-page color cartridge costs $18 (2.4 cents per color, per page). A four-color page would cost a very affordable 11.6 cents--a darn sight better than the pricey inks for the Epson Stylus NX515 can manage. Replacing cartridges is nearly idiot-proof, as an illustrated label guides you through the process, or you can view an animation on the touchscreen.
The HP Photosmart Plus packs a lot of performance into a low-cost MFP package, with well-priced inks to boot. Other models in this price range can't boast quite as much.