Despite the word professional in its name, in practice, the HP Photosmart 8750 Professional photo printer seems to target size-conscious consumers instead. It uses nine ink primaries to print borderless sheets as large as 13x19 inches, and its dye-based inks are vibrant yet long-lasting--rated at better than 100 years when displayed under glass.
The HP Photosmart 8750 Professional comes in a relatively attractive brown-and-metallic-gray plastic case with a pop-up monochrome LCD screen for computer-free printing. Paper travels in a U-shaped path from a front tray or straight through via a feeder in the back for heavier stock. As a result, there's no paper holder protruding from the top as with the Epson models, yielding a lower profile despite the unit's 25-inch width. The 8750 does fill a serious chunk of desk space, about 25 inches square when loaded with 13x19-inch sheets. The paper holder and output trays telescope out to handle letter-size or larger sheets, and while these work fine, the extended portions feel a bit wobbly. If someone were to fall against them, they'd probably break, so we suggest you locate the printer well back from the edge of a desk or in a low-traffic area.
In the rear, the Photosmart 8750 offers USB 2.0 for connection to a PC and an Ethernet port for network installation. Up front, there's a USB 1.1 port for HP's Bluetooth option or for direct connection to any PictBridge-compatible camera or USB flash drives. Four uncovered slots accept CompactFlash I/II, SD/MMC, Memory Stick, and xD-Picture cards for direct printing.
It's easy to understand and navigate the controls using the LCD screen, and operations such as canceling print jobs execute immediately without any delay of the software application. The HP driver interface, despite its many options, balances helpful shortcuts with full controls for tweaking color and output. Hardware controls are straightforward and simple. As with all inkjets, the 8750 offers a helpful pop-up window that lets you know when to change ink cartridges. But unlike Epson's approach, which simply halts printing when a cartridge runs out, HP's pop-up advises that you may continue printing until print quality becomes unacceptable, in the same manner that the Canon does.
The HP Photosmart 8750 Professional uses nine dye-based primaries delivered in three tricolor cartridges. It ships with a standard tricolor of cyan, magenta, and yellow; a Blue Photo cartridge with light cyan, light magenta, and blue; and a Photo Gray cartridge that includes light gray, dark gray, and black. The Blue Photo cartridge is meant for printing scenes with heavy blue influences, such as skies and ocean. You can also swap the Blue Photo cartridge with the standard Photo ink cartridge (light cyan, light magenta, and black). Having two shades of gray and black allows the printer to produce neutral black and white prints, without the color casts common in composite grays. The print menu offers the option to print solely with the grays for completely neutral black-and-white output.
Unfortunately, as with all the HP consumer inkjets, you must toss an entire cartridge when one of the inks runs out, a potentially costly concern. On the upside, however, HP does offer high-capacity alternatives for some of them.
From its built-in Ethernet port to the extensive list of paper formats, you can tell the Photosmart 8750 is designed for serious photographers, though it doesn't support roll papers or printing directly onto CDs. The driver supports sRGB, Adobe RBG, or printer-managed color and has the ability to control ink saturation, brightness, and tone as well as ink volume and dry time.
If you don't want all that control, you can use print-menu shortcuts. For example, when you respond to the menu question "What do you want to do?" by selecting "Photo-quality printing with white borders," the software automatically chooses Best print quality, HP Premium Plus photo paper, and landscape orientation. The print menu also offers image adjustments for users printing directly from a camera or a memory card. Slider scales let you adjust red-eye, contrast, digital flash, smart focus, sharpness, and smoothing. You can even adjust ink volume--the amount of ink applied to a page--and the print dry time.
The HP Photosmart 8750 Professional isn't a particularly speedy printer by any yardstick. It took a little more than five minutes to print our 8x10-inch color test photo on HP's Premium Plus photo paper on the Best quality setting, about 60 percent slower than the Epson R1800 and more than 75 percent behind the Canon i9900's class-leading performance. No one expected the 8750 to be a fast text printer, and it plugged along at about the same pace as its medium-format photo competitors in our text tests.