If you're constantly on the go for business, then you'll need a printer to take with you. With the HP Deskjet 450wbt, HP has repackaged its popular Deskjet 450cbi to include the often hard-to-obtain Bluetooth card so that you can print from wireless Bluetooth devices. In addition to wireless Bluetooth capabilities, the 450wbt comes equipped with infrared capabilities so that you can print from your PDA, plus a battery and a parallel print cable. However, this four-ink inkjet printer lacks robust print speeds, decent text-print quality, and the ability to print without an attached computer--features you will find included with the similar Canon i80. But if cost is no option and you want the hands-down best customer-service warranty in the business, the HP Deskjet 450wbt makes sense for you. Measuring a slim 13.3 inches by 3.2 inches by 6.5 inches (W, H, D), the HP Deskjet 450wbt, like the Canon i80, is a very compact printer designed to print full-size 8.5x11 documents. The input tray snaps into the body, and the output guide retracts so that the printer will fit snugly into your briefcase or luggage. Even with the battery installed, the 450wbt weighs only 4.6 pounds.
The 450wbt supports both parallel and USB connections through ports located along the back. Oddly, HP includes a parallel cable in the box, but you'll have to buy the more popular USB cable yourself. The 450wbt comes with a preinstalled Bluetooth wireless card, but if you remove the Bluetooth card, the open slot in back supports CompactFlash cards (Types I and II), provided the images are stored in Digital Print Order format (DPOF is a digital standard created in 2000 by Canon, Eastman Kodak, and Matsushita Electric). An infrared port located on the printer's front panel makes it easy to beam your PDA-created document (Palm OS or Pocket PC) directly to the printer.
If you travel a lot, you'll want the optional carrying case ($59-$99) and the AC car adapter ($77). Both are available from &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fh71016%2Ewww7%2Ehp%2Ecom%2Fdstore%2FMiddleFrame%2Easp%3Fpage%3Dconfig%26ProductLineId%3D493%26FamilyId%3D1306%26BaseID%3D10117%26r%3DHP%5FProdShowcase%5FO%26n%3DD%5FI%5FDR%5FX%5FT%5Fx%5FGenericNVP%26jumpid%3Dre%5FR2515%5Fstore%2FsmProdCat%2Fmobile%2520printers%2Fhp%2520DeskJet%2520450wbt%2520mobile%2520printer%26c%3DHPProdShowcase%5FC8145A%26t%3Dad">HP's Web site. It is standard to offer these options separately. The HP Deskjet 450wbt's best features are its included battery and various wireless capabilities, both of which cost extra on the Canon i80. Beyond the battery and the wireless features, the HP Deskjet 450wbt continues printing with only one of its two ink cartridges still working, and HP provides a plastic ink-cartridge case to avoid spillage while traveling. Another sweet touch is a small plastic sleeve hidden on the bottom of the printer to hold your business card. Think of it as the working person's equivalent of having name tags sewn into clothing.
The Deskjet 450wbt's included software is rudimentary: HP Photo Printing Software allows you to create and print photo-album pages; BT Print sets up Bluetooth printing; HP Mobile Printing for Pocket PCs sets up infrared printing; and you get online access to MyPrintMileage, a Web-based program that keeps track of how much ink you use and suggests when to order new cartridges. The print driver software covers only the basics, such as paper type, print quality, brightness and saturation, and various maintenance tasks, including print-head cleaning and color calibration. The interface is simple and easy to use. While the HP Deskjet 450wbt created excellent color prints in CNET Labs' tests, the Canon i80 performed significantly faster and delivered slightly better print quality overall. The 450wbt text print speeds averaged a slow 1.48 pages per minute (ppm), which compared poorly to the i80's zippy 5.6ppm. With color photos, the 450wbt took 4.07 minutes to print our 8.5x11 test photo, whereas the i80 took a mere 2.8 minutes per page, or about half the time.
The 450wbt's text printing, even on coated inkjet paper, was a disappointment. Our CNET Labs' test document looked oversaturated, with blurry letters. Because this printer is a Deskjet, designed for businesspeople on the go, rather than part of HP's Photosmart line, the 450wbt really should print crisper text. Color graphics, while better, showed visible banding and dithering, and the colors in our test document looked faded.
The Deskjet 450wbt's strong suit is printing photos. It did an excellent job with our tricky, high-resolution, 8.5x11 test photo, producing smooth and natural-looking skin tones, vibrant colors, and no visible dithering (meaning you couldn't see any of the ink dots). We did, however, notice some faint banding in the backgrounds.
In CNET Labs' tests, the 450wbt's ink costs were average. It printed 55 copies of our 8.5x11 test photo before running out of ink, which works out to $1 per page. If you print mostly 4x6 photos, your costs will run about half that, around 50 cents per print.
Inkjet text speed test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
||Pages per minute||