For those of you who can't make up their minds whether to buy a Epson or Canon photo printer, life is about to get more complicated. HP has just launched a new line of photo printers and at the top of the range is the new HP Photosmart 7960 eight ink printer. It's a long time since I have reviewed a printer from HP, but when I saw this printer in action at HP labs, instinct told me that this printer is about to become a major contender in the photo printer market. Over the next seven days I am going to be putting the printer through some exhaustive tests. If you want me to test any particular feature then drop me a line at photo-i. Please be patient through the test as I will be trying out many permutations, I will be looking for the good and not so good points.
What's in the box?
The printer is supplied in a 44H x 59W x 24D cm box which means it will fit it in with the rest of your shopping. The printer is well protected with packaging and the semi-transparent covers are covered with a cellophane film.
The power supply is a separate transformer, I don't know why HP could not have placed this inside the printer. Four ink cartridges; No's 56, 57, 58 & 59 are supplied, although only three cartridges can be fitted at any one time. The other cartridge can be stored in a compartment under the top plate of the printer. A print cartridge protector is supplied which helps to prevent the ink from drying out.
An unusual feature is the separate faceplate, I presume this will vary from country to country or maybe be available in different colours. The supplied silver finish faceplate simply clicks into place.
As per every other manufacturer, a printer cable (USB only) is not supplied, but in this case it doesn't matter too much as the HP 7960 is also intended to be used as a Direct Print Printer - you don't need a computer to make this printer work.
A well illustrated quick Setup guide will take you through each step of installing the printer. A more detailed reference manual is also supplied. A free sample pack of paper will get you up and printing, although six sheets of paper are not going to last long. I like the inclusion of a Blue plastic Photo paper storage bag. I don't know about you, but each time I remove a sheet of paper from other printer manufacturers' packs I always seem to catch the print surface on the sticky tape that seals the bag. HP has solved this problem with their storage bag, although I would have liked a label on it so I could mark what paper type is in the bag.
Installation disks are supplied for both Windows (98, Me, XP & 2000 Professional) and Mac (OS 9.1 and later, OS X 10.1 - 10.2)
Before moving on to the setting up and software installation, my first initial reaction to this printer is the quality of build. It feels substantial with no compromise on materials used.