HP Photosmart 8450
Review Date: March 14th 2005
The HP Photosmart 8450 image quality is excellent straight out of the box. Colour prints made on the HP Premium Photo Paper were true to the original image, with no discernible colour shifts. I was amazed by the colour accuracy - there was no need to mess around with ICC profiles or Adobe Photoshop to obtain accurate colour rendition. The HP Photosmart 8450 really did deliver "what you see is what you get" prints. The HP Premium Photo Paper also has a nice weight and feel similar to a traditional print from a photo lab.
If you are interested in black and white photos, then you should definitely consider the HP Photosmart 8450, which produces stunning black and white prints when the No. 100 Gray photo cartridge is installed instead of the Black cartridge. There is absolutely no hint of a colour cast in black and white prints from this printer - they are the most neutral that I have seen from any inkjet printer. The fact that you can easily switch between colour and black and white from print to print is an added bonus.
I printed out the same image at the Best quality setting and the 4800 optimized dpi quality setting (only available when printing via a computer). The 4800 dpi setting takes twice as long as the Best setting and presumably uses more ink. I compared the 2 prints side by side and couldn't see any discernible difference between them. I would advise you to print all of your photographs at the Best setting and save yourself some time and money.
There are a few things to note, however, about prints made by the HP Photosmart 8450. The prints are not touch dry straight out of the printer - I left them for 24 hours to dry fully before handling them. The instructions that come with the HP Premium Plus Photo Paper tell you to leave the print for 7 days before placing it behind glass or in a photo album!
The very first print that I made was a lot lighter than it should have been. I scratched my head for a while before deciding to just make another print - voila! the second print was perfect. Maybe the cartridges weren't quite operating properly after printing the calibration chart.
More seriously, I experienced a persistent problem with printing black and white images when the print driver was set to Print in Grayscale > Black print cartridge only. 4 out of 5 images that I tried to print stopped at exactly the same point, about 2/3rds of the way through printing, with the following error message screen:
I restarted Windows and tried again, but the error persisted and the print again stopped before completion. If the print driver was set to Print in Grayscale > High Quality, there were no problems at all. As the High Quality setting uses the colour cartridge as well as the No. 100 Gray cartridge, this could have proved a problem with unwanted colour casts, but I couldn't actually discern any difference between the one print that I successfully made using the Black print cartridge only and the others that I made using the High Quality setting.
Overall the image quality from the HP Photosmart 8450 is nothing short of breath-taking. I'm looking forward to reviewing the new larger-format HP Photosmart 8750, which uses the same inkset as the 8450 but crucially produces larger A3 / 18x 13 inch prints.