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HP B8850 Review

HP B8850Announced just last week, the HP B8850 is a new, competitively priced 13 inch / A3 photo printer aimed squarely at the keen amateur photographer. The B8850 offers a very similar specification to its well-received big brother, the B9180, whilst cutting features that most users won’t need to bring the price down. Is the HP B8850 a veritable bargain, or does it cut too many corners? Jon Canfield finds out, as we bring you the World’s first ever review of the HP Photosmart Pro B8850 printer.

Website: HP B8850 Review

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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Reader Comments

  1. What about the "pizza wheel marks" (like B9180)?

    Nickoning at 04:33pm on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

  2. Can you recommend some good black and white printers?

    Frank Stanton at 06:56pm on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

  3. Does this print full bleed or is that just advertising photo propaganda to make me want to buy it?

    Naples Wedding Photographer at 09:06pm on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

  4. A good review - but as we all wait for a DJ90 format pigment machine from HP, here comes a re-invented wheel.

    CCC at 10:41am on Thursday, January 24, 2008

  5. good review; but did you experiance any sign of the dreaded pizza-wheel marks on any prints. is the feed mechanizm any differant from b9180??

    cal at 07:50pm on Thursday, January 24, 2008

  6. The feed mechanism is slightly improved over the B9180, but it's the same basic assembly. In other words, if you're seeing wheel marks with your preferred media now, you probably will with the 8850 as well.
    I did not see any evidence of wheel marks with the test unit though.
    Rollers are a bit closer together making the feed for 4x6 media more reliable now as compared to the B9180.

    On the issue of black & white printers, what type of paper do you want to use? Photo rags and other fine art medias do beautifully with this (and the Canon 9500 and Epson 2400). The bronzing issue is something all printers that don't use a gloss optimizer or some form of coating will exhibit. Unless you're viewing the print at an angle it isn't an issue. I did feel it was important to mention in the review though as it is there, and I would hope to see something like the gloss enhancer used in the Z3100 come down to the desktop printers.


    Jon Canfield at 09:30pm on Thursday, January 24, 2008

  7. Thanks for a great review and for very informative reader comments. I use Photoshop Lightroom; does the Photoshop plug-in also apply to that software.



    John Kelly at 03:57pm on Sunday, January 27, 2008

  8. Hi John -

    The plug-in does not work in Lightroom. Here you'd want to choose the appropriate profile in Lightroom. The printer driver will automatically recognize that Lightroom is handling color management and shut it off in the driver.


    Jon Canfield at 04:22pm on Sunday, January 27, 2008

  9. As always are the cost of the ink not mentioned in the review (or i missed it?). The ink is quite expensive for some other HP printers in for example the Photosmart series. (the 363 cartridges)

    Jan Morgils at 11:53pm on Monday, January 28, 2008

  10. I didn't mention ink costs, but they are the same as the B9180 - about $33 for a 27ml cartridge


    Jon Canfield at 12:54am on Tuesday, January 29, 2008

  11. Hi,
    I am an invitation designer. I am looking for a printer that delivers crisp text and awsome graphics/photos. How does the 8850 rate?.
    And about the media handling I use a lot of heavy card stock 80# to 120# and I'm not really sure what weight of paper .7mm is? Do you have any idea?

    Dawn at 03:59am on Monday, February 04, 2008

  12. Hi Dawn -

    Text output in my testing was excellent. I don't print text on these printers normally, but the output I reviewed showed sharp text at all sizes.

    The paper weights you have listed here will work. The #80 should feed through the standard tray while the heavier paper would need to use the specialty tray.


    Jon Canfield at 05:54pm on Monday, February 04, 2008

  13. Thanks for nice review. You printed a 13X42 Panorama. Can you do the same with the B9180?

    Larry Mulmed at 10:33pm on Sunday, February 10, 2008

  14. Hi Larry -

    Yes, you can print the same panoramic sizes with the B9180. HP doesn't announce support for it, and you need to make the custom page size, but it is possible to do this.


    Jon Canfield at 04:18am on Monday, February 11, 2008

  15. How is the build quality. Is it the same quality as the 9180?

    Joe at 02:25am on Friday, February 15, 2008

  16. The print heads and assembly, as well as the case and trays all are the same quality as the 9180. As for internal parts, I couldn't tell you for certain, but it seems to be every bit as sturdy as the 9180.

    Jon Canfield at 04:25pm on Friday, February 15, 2008

  17. Hi Jon. Can you tell me if media entered in the special media tray which uses a straight paper path are subjected to the "pizza wheels"? I'm looking to print on thin sheets of metal and the product I will use to coat the metal cannot be subjected to pizza wheels, that is, I'm looking for something where no wheels will touch the surface of the media after it is printed (they'll leave tracks in the precoat). If this is the case with the straight paper path of this printer I think I might've found me a printer. :)

    Fred at 06:10pm on Tuesday, April 15, 2008

  18. Fred -
    The feed mechanism has changed slightly with the 8850. I haven't seen any signs of wheel marks, but I haven't printed on metal either. I do actually have some in though that has been waiting for me to have time to print. I got the material from so I don't know if it's the same as what you're using. I'll try to run a test print tomorrow.


    Jon Canfield at 12:26am on Thursday, April 17, 2008

  19. Thanks for the response Jon. Much appreciated. Booksmart is what I plan on using- their plates are precoated with inkAID. If you ever get around to using it I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks again.

    Fred at 06:28am on Sunday, April 20, 2008

  20. I just did a couple of sample prints on the BookSmart Studios Fine Art Metals. Good news, and not so good (isn't it always that way?).
    The thinner metals print just fine with no wheel marks. That's the good news. For the media setting I used Rigid Photo.
    When using the brushed silver metal, I do see wheel marks. This metal is a little thicker than the others. I also had a problem with the ink rubbing off on this particular metal that I don't have with the thinner materials.

    So, if you stay with the .012 metals or thinner, you'll be fine based on my limited testing.


    Jon Canfield at 05:05pm on Monday, April 21, 2008

  21. Nice printer, but when i reinstalled my OS, i cant install driver, driver for HP Photosmart Pro B8850 but then i found updated version and every thing become ok, good printer, especially for home use ...

    JamesMilan at 12:47pm on Sunday, July 27, 2008

  22. I am having a problem with the 8850 printing on the bright side and on the light side. it also looks like the reds lack some blue. I have a test print that I am trying to match.

    Hugh Fitzmorris at 11:20pm on Saturday, August 16, 2008

  23. WARNING...the HP B8850 DOES NOT WORK WITH Photoshop CS3 color managee workflow, and HP knows about it and refuses to do anything about it other than blame Adobe (whom they designed it with) but don't just take my word for it check the Nikonians and DPREVIEW forums.

    Joe at 04:37pm on Wednesday, October 15, 2008

  24. I ran into an unusual problem with the inks on this printer. It is advertised as a PhotoSmart printer but my experience of printing photos on this printer was totally unacceptable. First, HP's best photo paper,(HP Premium Plus Photo Paper) by their own chart on the back of packages, is not supported by this printer. Second, even when you use the HP Advanced Photo Paper, the ink is applied unevenly so that white objects on glossy paper reflect light differently than all the other colors. When you tilt the printed photo to see the glossy surface of the photo, the white areas are less glossy. This does not occur with the dye based inks used in the lower priced HP PhotoSmart printers.

    I shipped my 8850 back and have purchased the B8550 instead.

    Lee Buehler at 05:06pm on Wednesday, January 07, 2009

  25. The 8850 is a pigment printer like the 9180. None of the Premium papers are supported with pigment inks, they're only for the dye printers.

    Gloss differential - the effect you're seeing when viewing the page at an angle is common with pigments and in some cases dye inks, particularly on glossy surface papers. It's not a case of applying ink unevenly, it's more of a difference in the reflective values of the ink. Dye inks tend to minimize this because you print on swellable surface papers like the Premium series.

    Jon Canfield at 06:08pm on Wednesday, January 07, 2009

  26. thanks so much for your review. i just received this for my birthday and i'm very excited. i've been eyeing something along these lines for a couple of years now, and am glad to know that this will probably be a successful machine for me. :)

    marcia howell at 05:41am on Friday, January 09, 2009

  27. I purchased a hp b8850 printer in Oct 2008 it failed after 2 months. Despite having a 2 year warranty it is still not sorted after 3 months.
    HP would not give a new printer. Beware

    thoburn at 11:42pm on Tuesday, March 17, 2009

  28. Can the HP Photosmart Premier Software be used with this printer? I noticed it only comes with the Essential verion.

    Also, what are the differences between the two software offerings.

    Dave at 08:42am on Saturday, April 11, 2009



    I purchased an HP Photosmart 8750 pro printer and a 3 year extended warranty. Just over half way through when I had a problem, HP wanted to replace it with an 8550. Not even a professional printer and on sale for $199.00 on their site.
    The following link:
    On hp's site says the replacement should be the pro 8850 model.

    My studio would look really professional with a toy printer. I want everyone to know what to expect when they deal with HP. Someone please tell me a good story about the new Canon 9550 and Epson pro printers. IO want to purchase the best 13x19 size pro printer available. May even stretch to 24".


    Don at 08:44pm on Saturday, May 02, 2009

  30. I currently own the hp8850 and have never been so frustrated with a printer in my life! This machine won't feed paper that is custom size and of a different color than white. When I tried to put through custom photo card stock with opening, it will feed the top part just fine, but when I turn it over to feed the bottom that has brown tape strips, it won't accept it.

    It is by far the fussiest machine I have ever used and would not my any means recommend it! I have regreted purchasing this piece of crap since the day i bought it. When it comes time to replact the cartridges, I will replace the printer instead!

    Stay away from this HP8850!

    Karen at 07:07pm on Monday, October 19, 2009

  31. After reading Jon's review and several comments on user questions, I was ready to buy the 8850. However, the last few user comments certainly raised red flags. I want a high-quality b&w and color printer for exhibition and possibly publication (mostly landscapes, but portraits as well (esp. b&w). And, I want to be able to use with confidence glossy, semi-gloss (satin?) and matte papers. Is this the printer for me? How compare with the comparably priced Epsons (Ep.1900?) or Canons. Thanks.

    Bob Wade at 09:01pm on Thursday, November 12, 2009

  32. Bob,

    Personally, I'd go with the Epson 1900 if you want to print on gloss or luster papers, or the Canon 9500 or Epson 2880 if you also want to print on matte papers, or if you're interested in black & white prints on anything other than photo papers. Since my review, I've heard from a number of people that have had problems with the printer - I didn't experience any issues with the review unit I had, and I've had excellent results with the 9180, but like any product, there are some bad examples out there and it sounds like HP support hasn't been doing as good a job of supporting the product as they should.


    Jon Canfield at 06:47pm on Monday, November 16, 2009

  33. Many thanks, Jon.

    Since last comments, I've become more interested in the Canons, given the many favorable comments and fact that Canon replacement ink cartridges seem to be much more reasonably priced--an benefit just for Canon camera users?

    I'm going to check out more seriously the 9500, which from your comments sounds like it'll work well for both b&w and color and all kinds of paper. True? I'm thinking of matte for portraits and also for landscapes (if the composition will favor b&w for dramatic contrast).

    Thanks again.

    Bob Wade at 07:05pm on Monday, November 16, 2009

  34. The 9500 is a pigment printer so it will do better on fine art papers using the matte black ink. I don't know that it's much more cost effective than the Epsons as far as ink prices go though. It seems to be a little more frugal with ink use, but not a significant difference.

    Jon Canfield at 07:29pm on Monday, November 16, 2009

  35. This printer is designed for the photo enthusiast who wants very, very high print quality, but doesn't want to spend top dollar on higher-end models such as the HP 9180. Thus the B8850 serves, in a way, in the same role as the Bentley used to serve for the Rolls-Royce: almost the same, but not quite.

    r4 dsi at 07:03am on Friday, January 01, 2010

  36. Earlier I had a HP B8850 and HP did not want to deal with me but eventually the importer gave me my money back. Unfortunally for HP I have a Canon now and it works.

    thoburn at 03:52pm on Friday, January 01, 2010

  37. I just purchased the HP B8850 from HP for $349. with free shipping. That's $ the regular price.

    Jolauren at 01:24am on Thursday, January 21, 2010

  38. I've had my HP B8850 for well over a year now and have used Hefger media inks since the originals ran dry. I cannot say enough good about this printer AS LONG as you ONLY load the BASIC drivers. The constant ink cartridge reminders and Volumes of HP crap that are loaded onto your computer can drive one crazy. I have Hefger pigment ink prints hanging here in my office without glass, and they look as good as the day I pinned them to the wall. Paper feeding IS a bit finicky at times, but you just have to learn to live with its foibles. Let's face it, ALL printers have some issues, but this one has run completely clog free for all the time I've had it, often not using it for weeks at a time. WK

    Wolfgang at 09:22pm on Friday, February 12, 2010

  39. Vielen Danke, Wolfgang, fur irhe comments.

    Bob Wade at 05:31pm on Saturday, February 13, 2010

  40. I have, as one blogger put it, " a 40 pound paper weight" sitting on my desk. It's a HP B9180. It continues to jam, have, (service stalls), and high ink useage. The reviews for the HP B9180 were all glowing when it first was introduced, but you don't have to search long to find the many sad and angry customers of it. The HP B8850 just seems like a clone of the other. HP will eventually have the same problems as the auto industry. Make a poor quality product and extremely poor service support the customer will go elsewhere, e.g. Epson

    G. Kusluch at 02:36pm on Friday, March 12, 2010

  41. Sorry about your experiences. I also have a couple of paperweights in my basement. An Epson R2200 and a Canon i9900. Both started clogging after about six months to a year on their proprietary inks.
    It's funny that right after I wrote the above review I had a small streaking issue with the B8850 (didn't knock on wood hard enough?)
    I took out the offending head. Laid it on a piece of alcohol-soaked paper towel in a small dish for an hour or so. Then ran a heavy cleaning cycle. Now seems good as new. If I had failed, the big advantage to the B8850/B9180 is that heads are cheap and easy to install.
    But like all printers, when you get a lemon, it's all bad. You have to bitch like h... to get the company to send a NEW one (NOT a refurb with someone else's problems).
    Just my 2 pennies' worth of experience.

    Wolfgang at 04:18pm on Friday, March 12, 2010

  42. hi do this printer available in pakistan ??

    Qaiser at 03:44am on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

  43. OK, let's be logical now. I live in the USA. How would I know if it was available in Pakistan? Call HP and they might be able to give you an answer.

    wolfgang at 01:36pm on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

  44. I've had the HP B8850 for a year now, and while the hardware seems excellent I am currently experiencing SERIOUSLY FATAL SOFTWARE PROBLEMS...I upgraded to Win 7 and MAJOR PROBLEMS fell out like a ton of bricks...Having a Sony A900 outfit and some good lenses, I became desperate to get good prints again. NO SOLUTION TO THE VERY VERY BUGGY SOFTWARE SEEMS TO HELP.

    Switching to an iMac 27, the insurmountable problems are quite the same....I STRONGLY CAUTION ANYONE AGAINST BUYING THIS PRINTER.....I'm gonna dump this thing in the shitter where it belongs and get a proper Canon or Epson...Buyers Beware

    Sam Armstrong at 08:39am on Sunday, January 09, 2011

  45. Yes, there are good and bad ones out there. I just finished another run of 100+ calendar pages 13x19, both sides printed. Using Hefger media inks. Worked like a charm. Windows 7 64bit printed thru photoshop and adobe illustrator. Must be your system or your particular printer.

    wolfgang at 03:54pm on Monday, January 10, 2011

  46. This printer is the biggest pile of shite I have ever had the displeasure to use. It spends most of its time not printing, spitting out paper, not printing on the setting / quality its meant to, and spitting out the paper half way through the print.

    When you use the front loading option to print heavy media, its generally skewed, no matter how hard you try to put it in straight.

    So far this morning I have been trying to print 1 piece of transparency. It has taken 4 hours, and I still haven't managed it.

    Avoid it like the plague! I will be taking it to HP's head office, and throwing it through there window when I get a new one.

    It does however have a good print quality, when it actually works.

    Andrew at 01:38pm on Tuesday, March 29, 2011

  47. Mine has been trouble free and fantastic! Have not missed a beat and it's been a year of printing joy.

    Jo at 06:38pm on Tuesday, March 29, 2011

  48. Year of printing joy? I've had a year of printing hell. Its hell using the straight through media path, and not alot better using the tray feed.

    It has put me off HPs for life, if the HP Indigo is anything like this, I'll stick to Heidelbergs.

    Andrew at 10:45am on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

  49. I can't speak for your problems but mine is setup and I have many beautiful prints (color and B&W) in my studio that came from this printer. I would suggest you tweak the printer and use other fine paper recommended for this printer. I do not use HP paper. Just a search online will produce several fine photo papers even assorted trial packs. I am not promoting HP, I only bought the unit because I got it at a super low price.

    jo at 09:47pm on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

  50. I was happy with my B8850 but then a problem occurred which produced red/magenta bleed at the top of an image. As the machine was out of warranty HP would not even talk to me about it let alone repair it and there is no one in the UK that handles repairs so if you buy one keep the warranty up because then they just give you a new machine. Good printer poor after service. I won't be buying HP again

    Keith Barnes at 02:59pm on Friday, July 22, 2011

  51. How has HP turned into such unmitigated crap? Have had a HP8750 for a few years now, it is truly a pathetic piece of engineering garbage. I have purchased $100K's of HP equip in the past but since Carly and wall street money whores have been in control, it is sad. The 8750 works about 5% of the time. The rear feed slot feature never works. Anyone found a fix for Win7

    joe indy at 11:52pm on Friday, April 25, 2014

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