When it comes to photos, the HP Photosmart D7460 Printer shines.
Sometimes it takes more than one try to get things right. Consider the HP Photosmart D7460 Printer ($179.99 direct). It's a direct descendant of last year's D7360, a photocentric printer with most of the same features. In particular, both can print from a PictBridge camera or computer but are most impressive as home photo kiosks. Plug in a memory card or USB key and you can preview photos, choose options, and give the print command through a touch screen. The problem with last year's model was its less-than-ideal photo quality.
This year's D7460 solves that problem. It keeps everything that was good about the D7360 and bumps up the photo qualityfrom merely good enough for snapshots to superb. It gets an increase in touch screen size to a spacious 3.5 inches. It also has some significant new features, most notably network support in the form of both an Ethernet connector and Wi-Fi. What's more, it does all that while selling for 10 percent lower than the D7360's original price.
Setup is standard for a photo printer that uses six ink colorscyan, yellow, magenta, light cyan, light magenta, and blackwith a separate cartridge for each color. Find a spot for the 6.8-by-18.2-by-15.25-inch (HWD) printer, plug it in, turn it on, install the six ink cartridges and paper, and you're ready to print from a camera, memory card, or USB key. If you also want to print from a computer, you need to run the automated installation program and connect a cable. I used a wired network connection for my tests, letting the setup program find the printer and install it for network printing.
The D7460's paper handling is a weak point for standard printing but a potential strong point for photos. The primary tray holds only 100 sheets of paper, and replenishing it can quickly become annoying you print more than about 20 sheets per day. On the other hand, there's also a second tray for 4-by-6-inch paper, so you can load both standard letter-size paper and 4-by 6-inch photo paper. Even better, if you use the printer for photos only, the two trays let you keep two different sizes of photo paper loaded and available.
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M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).
Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.
Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.