HP Photosmart 8450
The Photosmart 8450 is HP's most feature-packed eight-ink photo inkjet that churns out great black-and-white photos.
|The good||8-ink printing; automatic calibration; quiet operation; 2.5-inch LCD screen; LAN connection; Bluetooth option; 7-in-1 memory card reader.|
|The bad||Large physical size; flimsy output tray; plastic construction; dodgy color calibration function.|
CNET Editors' rating
While most technology companies strive toward miniaturization, HP has oddly gone the other route. The Photosmart 8450 replaces the Photosmart 7960 as the manufacturer's top-of-the-line photo inkjet by adding more features and, strangely more heft. Although the specifications seem to suggest otherwise, the former is noticeably larger and heavier than the latter. The Photosmart 8450 is also--on the whole--slightly slower than its predecessor. On the upside, this eight-ink monster beefs up on connectivity.
The HP Photosmart 8450 is one of HP's new rollout of printers that sport Vivera inks. As a result, the outputs from this newfangled eight-ink printer have been rated to last as long as 115 years for black and white photos, and 108 years in its six- or eight-ink configuration. Even in its most basic setup (three-color mode), the new inks claim to last 82 years, which is nine years more than the Photosmart 7960 could manage in color.
For the extra 400g load, HP focuses on connectivity and throws in a PictBridge USB port, an Ethernet link, and Bluetooth as an option. There are other slight improvements to the design. The 2.5-inch display now has more allowance for tilting and the output tray is made removable, making it easier to load paper into the input paper receptacle. The slider for the dedicated 4R photo paper drawer is also considerably better designed and made.
The printer also brings one of the best features found on the much smaller Photosmart 375; the automatic support of sRGB and Adobe color space. This is a godsend for standalone printing, especially for prosumers or even professionals who already have a set digital workflow with regard to color management. This ensures that photos taken in the Adobe color space will not appear flat and dull when printed due to the wrong color space being used.
Unlike the Photosmart 375 we just reviewed, the Photosmart 8450 takes up a good percentage of your desk. Because of its 8kg weight, the option to shift it elsewhere for storage isn't as practical as with other units. Thankfully, the unit sports other connectivity options (Ethernet and Bluetooth) other than conventional USB, allowing you to locate the printer to a space where real estate isn't as dear.
Akin to Canon's higher-end Pixma range, the Photosmart 8450's printhead alignment process requires little user intervention. Upon installation of the cartridges, the printer requests for paper to perform the process. The story is much the same for the software side, earning points for ease of use.
In the performance stakes, the HP Photosmart 8450 is generally ok, though not as fast as its predecessor. It completed our 10-page test in 85 seconds, or about 7.1 pages per minute. This also puts it behind Canon's new flagship Pixma, the iP8500. For photos, the Photosmart produced A4 borderless outputs in 6 minutes on best-quality setting and 10 minutes for max-quality mode. The unit took just under 3 minutes for best-quality 4R turnouts. There was no discernible difference between the two prints and we'd recommend using best quality for your pictures.
We tested the Photosmart 8450 in its eight-ink configuration, which uses the HP100 gray photo cartridge instead of the HP94 black ink variant. Given the fantastic text performance of the Deskjet 6840, we reckon that swapping the HP100 with the HP94 will give the Photosmart 8450 a similar boost.
With regard to quality, the unit produces pleasing outputs and colors are vibrant. There is little dithering visible in the prints. We think these rival Canon's eight-ink competitor without the accentuated reds and greens. Depending on how you like your photos, the HP may be more appealing to you.
Boons And Quirks
We found HP's color calibration function to be confusing and would not advise anyone to actually use it. HP puts in a note to say the function will not be needed unless there are color casts. In any case, we tried this countless times and failed to find a setting that worked at all. Using this function resulted in colors going awry. And because there was no default setting, we needed to remove the cartridges and reinstall them.
With its competition also offering eight-ink models, HP remains adamant in its cause to improve its photo outputs (both color and black-and-whites) with its new gray photo cartridge instead of adding extra colors for more vivid outputs. In our books, the Photosmart 8450 produces some of the best black-and-white pictures we've seen. What would help HP get more of these machines into homes would be to make them smaller and lighter, as this photo inkjet rivals the competition's A3 units in size!