Like the A526, the paper can't be stored within the body of the A626, so if you don't plan to use the printer for some time, you should remove the paper and store it in a folder or envelope so that it doesn't become coated with dust. (The A826 allows you to store paper inside the printer's body.) The input tray can handle as many as 20 sheets of paper, up to 5x7 in size (the A526 can only handle 4-inch-wide paper). The ink and paper options for the A626 are the same as those for the A526 and A826. Replacing just the ink cartridge costs $20, and HP estimates that the cartridge can print as many as 55 4x6 photos. HP also offers an ink-and-paper package for $35 that includes 120 sheets of 4x6 paper and enough ink for that many photos. This works out to a per-print cost of 29 cents, in line with the competition.
In CNET Labs' performance tests, the A626 performed more like the A526; that is, on the slow side. It produced 4x6 photos at a rate of 0.65 page per minute, in line with the A526's 0.70 page per minute. It was slower than two $100 models we recently reviewed, the Canon Selphy CP740 (0.92ppm) and the Epson PictureMate Dash (1.42ppm).
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|4x6 photo speed|
We found the prints produced by the A626 to be very similar to those by the A526, as well. The colors were pleasing, but color blocks showed graininess. The whole picture needed to be sharper, too. The dark end of the grayscale showed lots of compression, so we lost details in dark areas. Overall, the image quality is fine for basic snapshots for your fridge, but we'd prefer something better for photo albums or framing.
HP backs the Photosmart A626 with a standard one-year warranty. Toll-free phone support is available 24-7, or you can chat live online with tech support, also 24-7. HP's site has drivers, software downloads, FAQs, and troubleshooting guides, as well.