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© Vincent Oliver 2004


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HP 8450 printer
Page 1

Introduction

It hardly seems like a year has passed since I reviewed the HP 7960, that printer impressed me. Now HP have introduced their latest offering in the form of the HP 8450, an 8 ink colour printer that will even satisfy the traditional monochrome worker. The 8450 is capable of printing 4800 x 1200 dpi (optimised and printing from a computer, as opposed to direct print printing), in real term this means very smooth looking prints. This printer also claims to have a palette of over 72 million colours - did you know there were that many colours? This extended palette is due to HP Photo Ret Pro. The printer has built in memory card slots which support multiple card formats for direct printing from memory cards. Use the front camera port to print photos directly from PictBridge-enabled cameras using a USB cable, print photos from a USB flash drive, or print from a camera phone using the optional HP bt300 Bluetooth wireless printer adapter. In short this printer is going to appeal to a wide variety of users.

Normally I publish a section here called "What's in the Box?", the printer that has been supplied for review is a Press Test Unit and only has photocopied manuals, sample pack of paper which I don't think the consumer will receive, a USB cable which is not listed in the photo copied manual.The drivers were included on a pre-production CD dated 3 June 2004. Imagine going to a camera shop and buying a well specified camera and the sales assistant puts it in a brown paper bag for you - HP did one better, I got a plain brown box. Therefore I have decided not do my usual contents shot and launch straight into the review.

Setting up

Unlike the HP7960, the 8450 has the front panel fitted, (I am assuming the customer will also have a fitted fascia as standard). Connect the printer to the mains, HP supply a small transformer which has a small three prong connector that fits into the back of the printer. I would have thought that the transformer could have been built into the printer, given that the 8450 is such a large unit, especially when compared to other current A4 printers. With the power connected, press the On button and select your language (a choice of 12) and region, on the LCD preview screen. Use the arrow keys to navigate your way through the options and press OK when done.

Purple socket is for the power cable
Select your language and region too

Next place some plain paper in the front tray, as with previous HP printers the media is transported through a U turn before being printed, i.e. media has to be loaded face down. The front paper catcher flips up for easy access to the A4 loading bay, however, loading media into the 6x4 photo tray is awkward. The paper guides move smoothly, yet still maintain a positive feel. The printer will perform a head alignment later, hence the plain paper.

The media in/out tray
Front flap lifted to load media.


Now you can fit the ink cartridges. Lift the cover up, thank heavens HP have done away with the Open button on the 7960, the times I have pressed that button thinking it was the power on switch is nobodies business. The cover is thoughtfully geared, so if you do happen to let go of it, it will glide down smoothly. The three ink chambers are located on the right. It is important that the power is on at this stage, as there is a guard to prevent the cartridge covers from being opened, this is lowered when the power is on. Remove the protective tape on each cartridge, being careful not to touch the delicate contacts, and insert the correct colour cartridge into the colour coded chamber. You can't physically put them in the wrong order. Once fitted the covers are snapped back down to lock them in place and you can shut the lid. The printer now prompts you for a sheet of plain paper and prints out a self calibrating head alignment chart.

Make sure the power is On to load the cartridges
Four cartridges make up the ink set
Only three cartridges are loaded
A geared front panel prevents crashes

HP have not gone down the same route as Canon and Epson, they still supply the combined colour cartridges. This is primarily due to each cartridge having a built in print head. The advantage is that you are getting a new print head each time you replace the inks - no more blocked nozzles. The disadvantage is that you may be wasting unused inks which has the effect of making the cartridge cost higher.

Gold contacts on each cartridge
Each cartridge has a built in print head

I don't know why, but HP have moved away from the HP 57,58,59 and 56 cartridges and have replaced them with the HP 348, 344, 100 and 339 cartridges. HP's slogan is "HP Invents", they sure do, they're about to invent confusion amongst their customers. I don't know why they couldn't have come up with a more creative name for the cartridges; Rembrandt, Degas, Van Gogh, Damien Hirst - in fact anything other than a dull boring corporate name like the "348" (this is the number on my local bus). The cartridges seem to be slightly smaller that the previous series, I was not supplied with the content figures, perhaps we should ask manufacturers to clearly label the exact liquid measure of each cartridge - food manufacturers have to do this even on a humble tin of baked beans.


14 July, 2005

© Vincent Oliver 2008 www.photo-i.co.uk
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