If you're in the market for a portable, dedicated photo printer, now's a good time to buy. These days, diminutive printers actually perform well, and there are more to choose from, too, which is why you can find a better deal than the HP Photosmart 145. While this printer looks and works much like the highly rated Photosmart 245, it costs about $50 less. Unfortunately, it's also slower, offers less flexibility when printing directly from digital media, and has slightly poorer image quality. Our advice: Scrape together that extra $50 and buy yourself the 245.
The Photosmart 145 is shaped exactly like a compact loaf of bread, weighs less than three pounds, and measures a mere 8.5 inches wide by 4.5 inches high by 3.5 inches deep. Like the HP Photosmart 245, the Photosmart 145 is designed for travel; you can even buy an optional carrying case ($36) and a car power adapter ($40) through "--="" class="c-regularLink" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eshopping%2Ehp%2Ecom%2Fcgi%2Dbin%2Fhpdirect%2Fshopping%2Fscripts%2Fproduct%5Fdetail%2Fproduct%5Fdetail%5Fview%2Ejsp%3FBV%5FSessionID%3D%40%40%40%401274856239%2E1065574283%40%40%40%40%26BV%5FEngineID%3Dccccadcjiiemejhcfngcfkmdfondfgm%2E0%26product%5Fcode%3DQ3025A%2523ABA%26tab%3Daccessories%26browse%5Flink%3Dtrue%26%23defaultAnchor" target="_blank">HP's Web site. However, unlike the Canon CP-300 photo printer, this printer doesn't give you a battery option, so you'll have to limit your on-the-spot printing to places within range of an electrical outlet.
The front panel of the Photosmart 145 folds out to become an input tray that holds a generous 20 sheets of 4x6, A6, Hagaki, or L-size photo paper. Near the input tray is a bank of slots for digital media, including CompactFlash Types I and II, MultiMediaCards, Secure Digital, SmartMedia, Sony Memory Sticks, and xD-Picture Cards. You can also print from a PC or a Mac or from an HP Direct Print-compatible digital camera via the 145's USB port in the back.
Like the Photosmart 245, the 145 has an LCD on its top panel. Unlike the 245, however, this LCD is monochrome, and you can't preview photos on it. To see what's on a media card, you'll need to print an index sheet--a minor hassle. The 145 offers no additional photo-editing functions, whereas the HP Photosmart 245 does.
The Photosmart 145 handles most image adjustments through the included software or the printer drivers. The software package consists of HP's standard photo- and image-oriented applications. These apps are designed to integrate all of your HP digital-imaging devices. HP Director organizes and provides access to all of your peripherals, such as scanners, digital cameras, and printers, through one easy-to-use interface. You would use the HP Photo and Imaging Gallery to create albums, e-mail your photos, and handle basic editing such as cropping, resizing, and rotating your images. The included HP Memories Disc lets you save and share images to a disc in slide-show, album, or archive format, as well as create index pages and jewel case inserts.
The Photosmart 145's drivers are intuitively designed and geared toward simple photo-adjustment tasks. Through a series of tabs, you can change basic settings, such as orientation and paper type, and adjust the color saturation, the brightness, and the tone. Via the main tab, you can access the more advanced HP Digital Photography interface. Through this, you can remove red-eye, add flash, improve the focus, and smooth your images.
The Photosmart 145 is quite slow. It took the printer an average of 2.7 minutes to print our 4x6 test photo; that's a bit slower than the Photosmart 245's 2.4 minutes per page, and it's dowright sluggish compared with the Canon CP-300's zippy 1.5 minutes per page.
The Photosmart 145 did a fine job on our test photos. Overall, however, we rated the Photosmart 145's print quality fair. The test photos looked decent at a casual glance, but closer scrutiny revealed visible dithering throughout; this occurred both on trickier elements, such as a white egg or pale skin tones, and simpler elements, such as a sunflower's petals.
Because the Photosmart 145 is a three-color inkjet--a rare breed in this age of six-, seven-, and eight-color printing--it accepts only one ink cartridge at a time: either a tricolor cartridge, which costs $35 to replace, or a $25 HP Photo Gray cartridge for printing black-and-white photos. Hence, the printer renders black elements in color prints by blending cyan, magenta, and yellow.
|Inkjet color-photo speed test (Shorter bars indicate better performance)|
|Inkjet printer quality|
HP backs the Photosmart 145 with a standard one-year warranty and one year of telephone technical support; toll-free phone support is now available 24/7. Online, "--="" class="c-regularLink" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehp%2Ecom%2Fgo%2Fsupport" target="_blank">HP's Web site contains a wealth of additional support options. Through a tech-support page dedicated to your particular printer, you can access driver updates and setup and installation help, as well as peruse a problem-solving section, find tips on how to use your printer, and catch up on product information and documentation.