The newest addition at the top of HP's photo printer lineup, the Photosmart 8450, replaces last year's high-end offering, the
Upside: According to numbers from Wilhelm Imaging Research, widely regarded as the gold standard in print-longevity research, the new Vivera inks add 15 to 20 years to the life of eight-color ink prints when used in conjunction with HP's new high-end Premium Plus Photo paper; this means that HP-produced prints stored under glass can last more than 100 years. In addition to the new inks, HP has improved control over drop-size variation and the printer's color look-up tables. The combined effect, the company hopes, is improved color accuracy and better-looking output. HP also claims to have shaved 30 seconds off the rated photo-print time (we dinged the 7690 for its sluggishness). Like its big brother, the HP Photosmart 8450 comes loaded with direct-printing options: you can print directly from any PictBridge-compatible digital camera via the USB port and from an array of digital media slots on the printer's front panel (CompactFlash I and II, MMC, SD, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, and xD cards). And now you can also print photos from any Bluetooth-enabled camera phone or PDA.
Downside: HP still clings to the combo ink cartridges with built-in printheads, which tends to keep consumables costs up. That's a major drawback for photo enthusiasts.
Outlook: At $300 (list price), the 8450 costs slightly more than competing models. Based on specs alone, the HP Photosmart 8450 looks like it might turn out to be a good choice for nascent photo enthusiasts, but as always, we'll withhold judgment until we get it to CNET Labs for testing.