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HP Deskjet 9800 review: HP Deskjet 9800


The black-and-silver 9800d needs ample work space, as it measures 22 inches wide by 19 inches deep when set up for letter-size paper and 10 inches deeper when you fill its protruding input tray with medium-format paper. We liked the sturdy construction of the Deskjet 9800d, which comes equipped with heavy paper supports and a steel base panel.

6.4

HP Deskjet 9800

The Good

Inexpensive for a medium-format printer; supports color-photo and grayscale-photo inks.

The Bad

Prints text very slowly; photo inks cost extra; printing photos requires swapping cartridges.

The Bottom Line

A moderate price and run-of-the-mill performance make the Deskjet 9800d a utilitarian workhorse.
HP Deskjet 9800d
Until now, you've had to pay a premium for inkjet printers that handle large media sizes, such as tabloid or 13-by-19-inch paper. The $399 HP Deskjet 9800d brings large-format printing to small-size wallets. If you're frustrated by trying to shrink fit large documents onto letter or legal-size paper, this affordable machine makes it easy to create bigger-than-normal prints.

The Deskjet 9800d is a switch-hitter: it ships as a basic wide-format inkjet, but add color- and grayscale-photo ink cartridges for $25 each, and it becomes a digital photo lab. An articulating plunger shepherds postcard-size media into the paper path's grips for small photo prints. Unfortunately, with only two ink cradles for four ink cartridges, you'll have to swap the tank cartridges when you switch between printing different kinds of documents.

You can add the HP Deskjet 9800d to a small network by plugging a print server into the 9800d's USB port. Devices that will do the trick include HP's $299 JetDirect EN3700 print server or the $199 JetDirect EW2400 802.11 b/g wireless print server.

HP estimates that its Deskjet 9800d will print text at 8 pages per minute (ppm), but in CNET's tests, it performed just shy of 3ppm--ultraslow even by inkjet standards. Three other inkjets by the same maker--the HP Deskjet 2800, the HP Business Inkjet 1200d, and the HP Deskjet 6840--printed text more than twice as fast.

The HP 9800d spent 3.75 minutes to print our 8x10-inch test photo on HP's Premium Plus glossy photo paper at default settings. This is slow, but not as achingly plodding as the 11.72 minutes per page taken by the HP Business Inkjet 2600. The HP 9800d's speed fits within the realm of low to midpriced photo printers, such as the $180 Epson Stylus Photo R320.

CNET Labs' inkjet speed tests (pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Photo speed  
Text speed  
Canon Pixma iP4000
0.55 
6.69 
HP Deskjet 6840
0.52 
6.68 
HP Deskjet 9800d
0.27 
2.95 

The output quality of the HP Deskjet 9800d gets good marks. Unsurprisingly, text printed on common office paper looked grayish and choppy, but on HP's inkjet paper, text was black and crisp. Color graphics showed fine detail with bright, accurate colors and lifelike lighting, though slight banding was noticeable. High-resolution photos on glossy photo paper disappointed us; we liked the sharp focus and detail, but colors were too cool, and shadowy areas looked murky. You might want to spend a few minutes tweaking the driver's comprehensive color-correction settings, which feature sliders to let you enhance contrast, add a flash, and sharpen or soften an image.

CNET Labs' inkjet quality tests *
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Photo  
Graphics on inkjet paper  
Text on inkjet paper  
Note: * Quality chart (1-4 = poor, fair, good, excellent)

You'll have to buy extra inks to take advantage of the 9800d's full features, such as photo printing, but to the company's credit, HP ships the Deskjet 9800d with full-size black and three-color cartridges. Half-size replacements are available for occasional users who don't mind paying more per page to save on the upfront purchase price. Based on HP's estimates, the full-size cartridges use 3.8 cents per letter-size page of black ink for text and 11.6 cents of ink for a lightly covered page of graphics, low for an inkjet. One sheet of HP's best-quality letter-size Premium Plus Photo Paper costs almost $1, and a 13-by-19-inch sheet of HP's Gloss Proofing Paper costs more than $2 per page.

HP backs the Deskjet 9800d with a one-year warranty that includes toll-free tech support available 24/7 and paid shipping for depot repairs. Extending HP's one-year warranty to three years costs $79--a good deal. You can also access forums, tech-support chat, and technical information on HP's Web site.

Click here to learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.

Performance analysis contribution from Jeffrey Fuchs.

6.4

HP Deskjet 9800

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 6Support 6