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The HP Deskjet D4260 is one of our favorite low-cost multifunction inkjets we've tested, because of its combination of features, quality, and price. The $70 printer is suitable for home users with light printing needs. Its speeds are impressive for a printer of its class, and the print quality is good enough for personal and school use, though those users requiring very high quality text prints should look elsewhere.
The HP Deskjet D4260's body is simply designed and understated. The silver-and-black printer stands 18.1 inches wide, 13.5 inches deep, and 5.7 inches tall, and weighs just 7.6 pounds. The paper handling system comprises an output tray that sits above a 100-sheet input tray. The output tray has an extendable arm for corralling paper, and the tray folds up so you can easily load paper into the input tray.
The control panel is also simple, consisting of a power button, a feed/continue button, and a Photosmart Essential button. There are also icons that light up to indicate a problem with the printer or low ink levels. Below the control panel is a single USB port for connecting cameras, USB memory card readers, or USB drives such as hard drives or flash thumbdrives.
The Deskjet D4260 uses a two-tank ink system: one black and one tricolor. Both come in standard and XL sizes. The standard black costs $15 and produces about 175 prints, while the XL version costs $30 and produces 650 prints. The standard color tank costs $18 for 170 prints, while the XL color tank costs $35 for 520 prints. Using the XL tanks for best value, we estimate that a black-only print will cost about 4.6 cents, while a full-color print will cost about 11.3 cents. Both numbers are reasonable for a low-price inkjet printer. HP also offers a tricolor photo ink tank (to replace the black) for six-color photo printing.
If you want help organizing, editing, and printing your photos, you can turn to HP's Photosmart Essential software, which comes on the installation CD. You can launch it on your PC or by using the Photosmart Essential Launch button on the printer. Photosmart Essential lets you browse your PC via file tree to find photos. Editing options include color treatments, cropping, red-eye reduction, and some basic corrections for noisy images, low resolution, or faded images. Most of the "advanced" features are available at a basic level (on or off), so if you want more granular control of features such as brightness and contrast, you'll have to find a different program.
The HP Deskjet D4260 performed admirably when compared to other inkjets in this price range. It scored 6.03ppm when printing text, between the $80 Lexmark Z1420 and the $50 Canon Pixma iP1800. It was the fastest of the three by far with graphics and 4x6 photo printing, scoring 2.26ppm for the former and 1.01ppm for the latter.
Overall, the HP Deskjet D4260 is a fine, serviceable machine for home users who print occasionally. It's better suited for reference prints for personal use (such as directions) and the occasional school report, but for formal business use, we would look for an inkjet with better print quality (and likely a steeper price tag). The less expensive Canon Pixma iP1800 is slower across the board, and offers only slightly better print quality than the Deskjet D4260.