For less than the price of a Windows upgrade or a generous round of drinks, you can pick up the compact, competent, fairly fast HP Deskjet D1660 printer. It sits firmly in the middle of the road in almost every respect but one: its price. At around £30, it's a steal and, for once, it's not quite a case of getting what you pay for.
The D1660 is tiny, and, even five years ago, it would've been described as 'no-frills'. The paper tray folds away to minimise its footprint, making it ideal for use in a small flat or studio. Paper is loaded at the front and printed pages are delivered through the same slot, albeit higher up, landing on your unprinted sheets.
It has just two cartridges -- one black and one tri-colour -- and ships with 'introductory' cartridges. 'Introductory' means they're rated for 80 pages of output and, sure enough, after 32 pages, the driver told us that the new black cartridge was running low. It ran dry after a little over 90 pages. This is common practice, but it's far from environmentally friendly, and it lands you with an ink bill fairly soon after buying the printer itself.
The D1660 does have some redeeming features, though. 'Normal' quality text on photocopy paper is excellent, with well-defined characters and sharp edges. Knock it up to 'best' quality and those same characters are a rich, deep black and still sharp in all the right places. Draft quality is good but not excellent, with some very minor misalignment as the head passes backwards and forwards, and slight feathering on photocopy paper.