Hewlett-Packard recently released its Officejet H470 Mobile Series, an update to its line of portable inkjet printers. The models range from $224 to $314, which isn't cheap, considering the majority of home inkjets cost less than $100. The print quality is also unsatisfactory, which wasn't a surprise but disappointing nonetheless. We wish we could speak better of the H470wbt, the highest-end model in the line, but this new model is an unimpressive update--you'd be better off purchasing its previous incarnation, the HP Deskjet 460c, at a discounted price.
The casing of the Officejet H470wbt is almost identical to the 460c, but this time HP went with a matte black finish instead of silver. Aesthetically, we really enjoy the design of the H470wbt. The corners are contoured and the flaps all neatly fold into the body. When everything is closed, it looks very rugged--if Batman needed a mobile printer, his search would end here.
The printer has most of the necessary ports, like PictBridge USB, standard USB, and a SD/miniSD/MMC slot, but lacks the older model's Compact Flash port. This isn't a big issue since most digital point-and-shoot cameras use SD or Memory Stick media, but users with DSLRs that use CF cards should look toward a more photo-specific traveler like the HP Photosmart A826, that won our Editors' Choice last fall.
The Officejet H470wbt is compact and only slightly smaller than a normal desktop printer, measuring 3.25 inches high, 13.4 inches wide, and 6.45 inches deep. At 4.5 pounds, it's portable enough to fit into a carry-on bag or a briefcase, but you won't want to carry it around all day. The most expensive model in the series also includes a protective sleeve made of vinyl with cutouts for the various ports, but there's no handle or a place to store the cables. There are a total of three models in the Officejet H470 series, and each price jump adds more hardware and versatility. HP omits an IrDA port from the H470s, but if you're dead set on traveling without wires, you can also purchase an 802.11 b/g adapter from HP (since it's not included in the series). To accommodate this option, HP built a network switch onto the back of the unit that's useful for people who constantly travel between their home, office, and remote networks.
|Includes external lithium-ion battery
|Includes external lithium-ion battery, Bluetooth printer adapter, and protective case
The H470wbt's top cover pops open to reveal the paper input. Similar to the 460c, the feeder can only hold 50 sheets of paper, but that's adequate for printing in a pinch and still more than the Canon Pixma iP90v that can only hold 30 sheets. We would have liked to see a foldout corral arm to catch the prints as they're released by the machine, but the H470wbt retains its shallow paper output cover. We also encountered a similar paper handling problem that we had with the 460c--it had a hard time picking up single sheets of 4x6-inch photo paper when a larger stack was loaded into the feed tray. The arm mechanism struggled to recognize the smaller size and tried to "pick up" the larger 8x10-inch size--after several tries, it gave up and a red LED lit up on the control panel. The problem disappeared when we cut the stack in half.
The H470wbt uses two ink cartridges, one for black ink and another tri-color cartridge. HP offers one compatible black inkjet cartridge that will reportedly produce 500 prints for $19.99, averaging 3.9 cents per page. The color cartridge comes in regular (330 prints) and high capacity (600 prints) for $24.99 and $34.99, averaging 7.5 cents or 5.8 cents per page, respectively. These costs are well within the average price and yield for desktop inkjet printers. Still, we wish that HP had an ink-saving feature like the Canon Pixma iP90v that gives you three options for printing either straight black, save black mode, or composite black.
According to our CNET Labs' speed tests, the H470wbt printed 5.51 pages of black text per minute, one full page faster per minute over its predecessor and slightly slower than the Canon iP90v. Presentation, graphics, and photos speeds stayed the same, slightly edging out the competition in presentation and graphics and lagging a few seconds for photos.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Photos (Single Sheet)
We were surprised to find that the H470wbt's prints substantially deteriorated in quality compared with those of the 460c. The 460c showed sharp characters and dark black lines, but our H470wbt printed letters with visibly fuzzy edges and blurred text in larger fonts. Bolded text and light graphics were even worse. Dots appeared on thicker edges and picture outlines looked jagged and marred by long vertical lines stretching across the page. The 4x6-inch test pictures we printed out were smooth, but the colors were flat and lacked saturation, casting a gray shadow over the images. Within the driver settings, HP offers a feature called RLT, or Real Life Technologies, that supposedly helps printed images look more like real life. We found this option to be useful in portraits, but the general quality of our images were poorly rendered, even with HP's Premium Plus paper and high-quality ink sets.
Service and support
HP supports the Officejet H470wbt with a one-year limited warranty. Troubleshooting is also available by phone 24-7 or by e-mail. HP's Web site also offers a host of services, including documentation, drivers downloads and updates, and FAQs.
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