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HP Photosmart 8750 Professional review: HP Photosmart 8750 Professional

The 8750's printheads are integrated into the ink cartridges, so even in a worst-case situation, you can solve clogging problems simply by disposing of the offending cartridge. However, over the course of 30 days of operation, complete with multiday downtimes, the Photosmart 8750 never produced streaks, gaps, or other signs of printhead issues. In fact, overall, it was remarkably consistent in operation and was easy to use. It responds quickly and decisively to job cancellations, more so than the R1800, which can become downright petulant if you cancel a print job or otherwise change your mind about what you've asked it to do.

CNET Labs inkjet printer perfomance in pages per minute
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Photo speed  
Text speed  
Canon i9900
Canon Pixma iP8500
HP Photosmart 8450
Epson Stylus Photo R800
HP Photosmart 8750

Print quality
In side-by-side output comparisons, the Photosmart 8750's color output matched the reasonably broad dynamic range and gamut of the R1800, though neither was quite as good as the i9900 for highlight and shadow detail. The 8750 enhances the blue gamut by devoting one of the three cartridges to blue hues (blue, light cyan, and light magenta). This enables the printer to enhance blue tones in an image to a remarkable degree; suffice it to say that the Photosmart 8750 excels at printing scenes with many blue tones, such as images of water, sky, and clouds. In fact, you may have to swap in the standard photo ink cartridge for the Blue Photo; the latter produces too intense a cyan, which rendered flesh tones that made people look oxygen-deprived as well as overly cool bright whites. This is a driver issue rather than a hardware issue, however, so it's not a deal killer. At the very least, you'll have your color-profiling work cut out for you.

For black-and-white, the HP's gray inks provide a distinct neutrality edge over the R1800, which creates composite grays, but using process black doesn't necessarily ensure more neutrality; for instance, the i9900's composite grays were almost identical to the HP's. Furthermore, Epson's pigment inks seem to show less variance in color under different light sources than the dye inks from HP and Canon.

Despite its relatively large droplets--4pl vs. the R1800's 1.5pl and the i9900's 2pl--there's relatively little graininess in the 8750's photo prints. However, vector curves do show slight jaggies. Text printed using the graphics setting looks exceptionally good--some of the best we've ever seen--which makes this a good choice for noncontract proofs of page layouts. That is, as long as you keep the prints away from liquids: you can smear a print from the Photosmart 8750 with a wet finger.

If you plan to mount prints under glass, then the Photosmart 8750 will do fine. But if prints are likely to be passed around where drinks could be present, consider laminating these shots for extra protection.

Hewlett-Packard maintains 24-hour phone support seven days a week for most products, including the HP Photosmart 8750 Professional, at 800/474-6836; in the United States, support is available in English and Spanish. In addition, HP maintains an extensive Web site with access to ink cartridges, spare parts, manuals in PDF; FAQs, drivers, and updates, and an online chat option for contacting a technician.

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