HP Photosmart 8050 

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This is a printer that can be four or six inks. When the black is not in use it fits in it’s own little space inside the unit ready to be quickly swapped with the photo cartridge. However this unit is far more than a standard photo printer.
HP Photosmart 8050 printer

The HP PhotoSmart 8050 printer is not that small at 47x31x16cm with paper stored in the base. If you extend the paper catching tray this adds another 12cm to the 31cm depth.

I found that the software install took around 320MB of hard disc space considerably less than the 600MB mentioned but I probably have some remnants from a previous HP installation.

The rear has two inputs for the power and USB leads. Lift a lid on the top of the unit and it hides a special holder for smaller media (4x6inch with and without tabs, 15x10cm and A6 Hagaki sizes) all the other controls are on the front face of the unit.

The left side has the on/off button above external connections for USB pen/stick drive as well as four card slots. The paper storage and delivery mechanism dominate the central portion of the unit with the right side having a 4x3cm TFT display for instructions and showing images when printing direct without the intervention of a PC. There are a total of 12 buttons under and to the right of this display to control what and how items are printed in this manner.

While it is possible to print black (text) pages with the colour and photo cartridges inserted the cost will be higher as various colours will be mixed to create a black and the printing will be slower. Printing the 200 word document produced 12PPM and the more normal 1500 word document came out at close to 9PPM the output was also more grey than black and this is unusual for HP. With the black cartridge inserted these figures were, 20PPM for the 200 word document and 16PPM for the 1500 word offering and even in 'fast draft' the output was definitely black.

Now onto the extra, when printing from a card or a pen/stick drive you can view images on the TFT display but it is also possible to print a proof sheet - remember this is a printer - and then mark in a dark pen in a small rectangle which to print and even what layout to use. Now you feed the sheet back into the printer face down with the top of the sheet first and it once you select 'scan proof sheet' from the menu it is scanned. Once scanned it then asks you to insert paper, click ok and then your page or pages of images in the selected size are printed. So this printer must have some sort of scanning unit inside, admittedly it probably only recognises the bar codes under the images and the filled in bits for number of copies and layout, but I think for a printer that is very clever.

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The photo proof sheet can print up to 20 thumbnails - four lines of five - per sheet. In fact the edit option of the unit allows lots of choices only normally available from software, while it is only a basic feature the automatic red eye removal is excellent. Putting together the print options, edit and tools features on the printer come to more features than in photo manipulation packages. This unit can also print Bluetoothly.

So now the only point not fully gone into, printing A4 or four images at 9x13cm borderless takes around 250seconds a page either way, while this is not fast given that some printers can do so in less than 180seconds it is still very acceptable. The main criteria for me when printing photographic images is not speed but quality and the latter is good. 

When I checked the HP site I was pleasantly surprised at the likely price of £72 but blown away with the price offered by e-buyer of £62.07 see the link below. For anyone who needs to print direct from cards or pen/stick drives without a PC I doubt you need to look any further.

Update : Best price for this is now £35.99 from Amazon.

Click here for information from the HP web-site

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Comment by jonw, Jul 22, 2007 21:20

This is another product that seems to be rapidly disappearing from the shelves. It's lastest a little longer than others. I find it hard to believe that printer manufacturers are innovating fast enough to justify new product ranges *every* six months. Ignoring for a moment the environmental issues, this simple is not sustainable.

Amazon still have this one though - and one benefit of rapid product cycles is that it can now be had for £35.99

Comment by paul_smart, Aug 18, 2006 13:19

I thought it was excellent value at £53.90 but now at less than £40 it has to be the HP printer for everyone.

Comment by jonw, Aug 17, 2006 22:00

It's getting cheaper - PC World now has it for 39.99!

Comment by, Aug 1, 2006 19:42

I have just bought this printer for £42.49 (inc VAT) from Comet and PC World are also selling at the same price.I thought this was too good to miss!

Comment by paul_smart, Jul 3, 2006 7:45

I have just found that John Lewis are selling it for £53.90 inc delivery, that deserves a six for value.

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