Maybe I'm getting cranky in my old age -- scratch that -- middle-age, but I've decided to subject the HP Photosmart 475 to the idiot test. Setup is to be accomplished exclusively without the aid of directions, quick-start guides, phone support, or a hammer (sledge).
Plugging the printer in is a non-event with the power connector on the back of the printer. Pressing the On button initiates a clever mechanical and electrical process whereby the printer turns on, the front panel glides open, the LCD panel pops up, and the paper loading door on the back opens. It's all very 21st century. In short: the Photosmart 475 does a very respectable job of printing both 4x6 and 5x7 photos with only a single magenta-yellow-cyan cartridge. Those looking for a fast and easy or portable solution to printing photos need look no farther.
Under the assumption you have some familiarity with inkjet printers, setting up the 475 is a piece of cake. Opening a small door on the front reveals the location for loading the ink cartridge. While I'm sure using a single 3-color cartridge will yield worse results than printer with seven or eight, it easily rivaled and in some cases bested my HP 2510 Photosmart, which uses a standard 3-color cartridge as well as a second photo cartridge.
4x6 or 5x7 paper is loaded in the back, fed through the device and slides out the front. On the front of the printer you'll also find slots for xD-Picture, Memory Stick, Compact Flash, and Smart Media, and Secure Digital cards. On the top of the printer you'll find an integrated handles for carrying, a 2.5" LCD for picture review and enhancement, and well labeled controls. Given the design goal of being an easy-to-use and transport printer, I did all of my testing without connecting it to a computer. I took memory cards from digital cameras and inserted them into the front for my tests. As far as my test goes, it would pass except for noodling how to load the ink cartridge. All-in-all, it's a good effort.
Inserting a memory card into the printer forces the LCD display to show an inventory of the number of photos and videos present. One or more images can be selected for printing by using the provided arrow keys and Ok' button. The interface for enhancing and cropping photos is adequate, if basic. Most will opt to have the images auto-enhanced and then printed. Image improvement options include red-eye removal, auto-enhance, cropping, and photo brightness.
Other innate options allow for the addition of frames and clipart, the printing of greeting cards, panoramic photos, photo stickers, passport photos, and others. The reality is that nine times out ten the consumer will never access these options. However, the built-in set of creativity features is well thought with the most common things you might want to do with pictures being shown.
Images require 90 to 120 seconds (measured from the second I pressed print not when image began printing) for a 4x6 depending on the print quality. Image size as well as the image resolution (megapixels) had no affect on the print time. The selected print quality is the only factor that altered the time. This can either be set as a default on the printer or overridden to print individual photos.
|Image Size||Image Megapixels||Time (Min:Sec)||Quality|
Quality is also very good. I used a single image and printed it both to the Photosmart 475 and a Photosmart 2510, which utilizes six colors for truer photo prints. Both printers were set to print in Best mode and the 2510 had the Maximum DPI option selected. In side-by-side testing, images from the portable 475 were as good as or better than the 2510. The 475's photo had crisper detail and more vibrant colors. Granted the 2510 is two years old, but it just goes to show how much printing technology continues to change. In this case, the 475 uses HP's Vivera inks whereas my older 2510 does not. It makes a notable difference in side-by-sides provided you're looking for the differences. Finally, I will mention that the Photosmart 2510 required just over 4 minutes to print a photo that took the 475 just 2 minutes.
In the Box
The HP Photosmart 475 is an impressive and snappy portable printer that takes the drudgery out of printing. You no longer are forced to boot your computer or run some complex, multi-step piece of software. Printing can be as simple as inserting a memory card and pressing the Print button or connecting the camera directly through the PictBridge interface.
Creativity and image manipulation features ensure that the output looks good. Clever design adds Bluetooth connectivity for those that want to print wirelessly from supported PCs, cell phones, and cameras. Image quality is very good; certainly good enough for any family wanting quick access to vacation or sports photos. Moreover, you can take the 475 to the grandparents and Wow' them by turning their house into an on-demand grandchild printing center.
Pros: Nice design and interface, portable, very good image quality
Cons: 90 seconds for a 4x6 in almost-2006 could be improved
Recommended for people who:
Bought a digital camera in 2002, but have to print their first picture
Need to print while on the road
Don't want to take up much desk space
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