HP Photosmart 130 review:

HP Photosmart 130

  • 1
MSRP: $180.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Prints high-quality photos; easy to set up and use; compatible with Mac, PC, and multiple removable-media formats, such as CompactFlash and Memory Stick; includes useful photo-editing software.

The Bad Prints only 4x6 or wallet-sized photos; no USB cable included; no obvious instructions for setting up with a PC.

The Bottom Line Digital-camera hobbyists who long to print photos on the road will love this printer. But those looking to print large sheets should consider a more versatile photo-capable inkjet, such as the older Photosmart 1315 or the Canon S900.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall

Unlike many photo printers, which are basically conventional inkjets with improved photo-printing skills, the diminutive HP Photosmart 130 prints only 4x6 and wallet-sized photos. For digital-camera nuts, this photo expertise is hardly a shortcoming; although the sub-$200, miniloaf-sized 130 does exactly one thing and does it well, printing gorgeous photographs with minimum fuss. Plus, you don't even need to hook up the Photosmart 130 to your PC--this printer works straight from your digital camera. If you want portrait-sized prints, however, look to the HP Photosmart 1315. Unlike many photo printers, which are basically conventional inkjets with improved photo-printing skills, the diminutive HP Photosmart 130 prints only 4x6 and wallet-sized photos. For digital-camera nuts, this photo expertise is hardly a shortcoming; although the sub-$200, miniloaf-sized 130 does exactly one thing and does it well, printing gorgeous photographs with minimum fuss. Plus, you don't even need to hook up the Photosmart 130 to your PC--this printer works straight from your digital camera. If you want portrait-sized prints, however, look to the HP Photosmart 1315.

No need for a PC
Setting up the HP Photosmart 130 won't take long, thanks to a colorful setup poster and a comprehensive user manual. But this documentation tells you merely how to print directly from one of the many removable media cards the printer accepts. To take advantage of the included image-editing and management software and to print through your PC, you have to be savvy enough to connect the printer to your system via the USB port (cable not included), insert the included CD-ROM, then follow the straightforward installation directions.

If you opt not to get your PC involved, you'll find that printing from a removable media source such as CompactFlash, Secure Digital Multimedia, or SmartMedia cards, as well as Memory Sticks, is a no-brainer. Just insert the card into one of the slots on the front of the printer, load special photo paper (we went with 4x6-inch HP Photo Paper at 25 cents per sheet) into the tiny input tray, and use the 130's easy-to-navigate LCD panel to start printing.

The LCD's layout and controls follow the same simple paradigm as those of a digital camera or monitor menu. The icons are arranged in a semicircle and depict, for example, photo size (4x6 inches, wallet, or thumbnail for printing an index sheet of all the snapshots on your media card), paper and print card status, and number of copies. Use the tab button for navigating through these icon categories and the plus/minus button for selecting within each category. To choose which pics to print, select their numbers from the LCD (photos are numbered according to their order on the source media).

It pays to specialize
HP Photosmart 130 may be a one-trick pony, but it's Churchill Downs material. Our 4x6 test photos outclassed the best prints from conventional inkjets we've tested, including the Canon S900 and the HP Deskjet 995C. The HP accurately rendered colors, especially tricky reds, with rich pigments, and skin tones looked remarkably smooth. Unlike most inkjets, the printer produced even, detailed backgrounds. To top it all off, the Photosmart took a reasonably quick 2.5 minutes per page. We've seen conventional inkjets that print an 8x10 glossy in about the same amount of time, but the output quality can't compare with that of the 130.

Preprint alterations
If you'd like to spiff up your digital images before printing them or want to print from e-mail or the Web, you'll find the included HP Photo and Imaging Gallery software to be quite useful and understandable. In addition to two programs that help you organize and store your digital images for easier printing, you'll find HP Image Editor, a simple program that lets you resize and rotate your photos, as well as adjust colors and brightness and correct red-eye. The included printer drivers are comprehensive enough for more sophisticated users who wish to fix saturation and color tone, yet they're easy to use and provide basic settings for print quality, paper type, ink volume, and ink dry time.

As with most printers, the HP Photosmart 130 comes with a one-year warranty. You're entitled to free phone support for the length of warranty via a toll number, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT. You can also call toll-free, automated phone support and check the company's Web site for software updates, printing tips, and manuals.

Compared with some of the better photo-capable inkjets we've seen, including the Canon S900, which prints full-sized documents of all kinds, the HP Photosmart 130's printing options are limited. However, if you just want to print a truckload of digital photos, this Photosmart may be the easiest, most cost-effective solution available.

Inkjet color speed test (photo)
Minutes per page; shorter bars indicate better performance

HP Photosmart 130 (High setting)
2.5 
Canon S800 (600x600dpi)
3.4 
Epson Stylus Photo 785EPX (720x720dpi)
4.3 
HP Photosmart 1315 (2,400x1,200dpi)
6.5 
Kodak Personal Picture Maker 200 (600x600dpi)
18.1 
 
Inkjet printer quality
•Poor ••Fair •••Good ••••Excellent
 Printer Photo
Photo paper
 Canon S800 (8.5x11) ••••
 Epson Stylus Photo 785EPX (8.5x11) ••••
 HP Photosmart 130 (4x6) ••••
 HP Photosmart 1315 (8.5x11) •••
 Kodak Personal Picture Maker 200 (8.5x11) •••
 
The HP Photosmart 130 isn't in a class by itself. But because it prints only 4x6 or smaller photos, we can't directly compare its test results to those of the photo printers we recently reviewed. The printer took 2.5 minutes to output a 4x6 color print. By comparison, the other printers on this chart took longer for an 8.5x11 photo, which could explain their higher print speeds. But none of the printers above generated the same image quality as the Photosmart 130. For comparisons to similar small-format printers, keep an eye out for future reviews. For now, of the printers we've looked at, the Photosmart 130 is in the top of its class.

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