Best Photo Printers
Your party photos and landscape shots will look their best when printed from one of the following models. Note that using glossy photo paper will yield the best results.
Canon Pixma iP4820
With a reasonable price of $100, the Pixma iP4820 gives you a more-balanced printer than most alternatives in both performance and ink costs, making it a good choice for home and student use. Photos on plain white paper were decent but came out light and sometimes orangey. Using Canon's own photo paper solved those problems, however.
Canon Pixma MG5220
At $150, the multifunction (print/scan/copy) Canon Pixma MG5220 is suitable for families and home offices with light scanning needs. Although it doesn't have a document feeder to scan multiple documents in succession, it does offer two 150-sheet input trays and automatic duplexing (two-sided printing). Test photos that looked overly bright on plain paper were nothing short of amazing on Canon's own photo paper.
Canon Pixma MG8120
At a steep $300, the multifunction Pixma MG8120 is a great-looking printer with reasonable ink costs, but you'll pay for the eye candy. On plain paper, photos showed an orange tint, but like most other Canon models, the MG8120 performed much better using the company's own photo paper. If you're looking for equally good output and similar features for much less money, check out the Pixma MX870 or the Pixma MG5220.
Epson Artisan 725 Arctic Edition
A step or two down from Epson's flagship Artisan 835 (see the next slide), the Artisan 725 offers the same high-quality output and cheap inks for a lower ($200) price. Automatic duplexing is standard. Media handling is low-volume but very versatile. Photos printed on plain paper looked faded but improved with glossy photo paper.
Epson Artisan 835
Although specifically designed for office use, the Artisan 835 has nearly every feature that a home-office user could want for its $300 price. The Artisan 835's photos were smooth and natural, with a slightly cool color temperature. Scanning and copying speeds were also much faster than average.
HP Photosmart eStation
The Photosmart eStation combines a capable color inkjet multifunction with a unique extra: the Zeen, a removable touchscreen control panel that runs Android 2.1 and offers Web browsing and e-reading. While its photos appeared a bit washed out on plain paper, the same pictures looked excellent on HP's own glossy paper. Whether the Zeen justifies the eStation's high price of $400 (and its average ink costs) is something you'll have to decide.
Kodak ESP 9250
Kodak's flagship ESP 9250 prints, scans, copies, and faxes for less money ($250) than most of the competition. On plain paper, color graphics, photos, and copies all looked washed out and grainy, with a distinct greenish bent. Printing them on Kodak's own glossy stock, however, transformed them into truly high-quality prints. Monochrome copies and scans were impressively smooth and detailed.
At $400, Lexmark's Genesis comes priced much higher than most home or small-office users would typically pay for a multifunction printer, so its value depends on how much you want all the gadgets and functions that are packed into the machine. Color images on plain paper were washed out and orangey. On Lexmark's own photo paper, the images sometimes erred the other way, coming out oversaturated, but still appearing smooth and mostly natural.
Epson PictureMate Charm
Priced at a midrange $150, Epson's PictureMate Charm photo printer costs the same as HP's Photosmart A646 but is somewhat less versatile. The PictureMate Charm required anywhere from 54 to 70 seconds to print each of our 4-by-6-inch test prints, but the pictures were well worth the wait. It produced flesh tones that looked healthy and normal as well as a balanced light and dark in monochrome images.
Epson PictureMate Show
At a relatively high list price of $300, the PictureMate Show combines a snapshot printer with a digital picture frame. Generating natural flesh tones and vivid colors in landscapes, the PictureMate Show does a great job printing pictures. While it does have a carrying handle, it's not truly portable since it lacks a battery option.
6 Tips for Picking a Photo Printer
This slideshow points out some things to keep in mind when looking for a photo printer: 6 Tips for Picking a Photo Printer