Personal Tech: Speeding into color
The good-looks contest is over for home printingpretty much any inkjet can spit out photos that rival what the local drugstore can produce. So what to sell next? Speed. At least that's the approach of Hewlett-Packard, which is launching a new line of printers aimed at impatient consumers and office workers.
HP's Photosmart 8250, for example, can churn out a good 4-by-6-inch print in about half a minute; that's at least twice as fast as the competition. The printer truly shines if you want to banner somebody's good looks in an 8-by-10-inch photo or print a full page of color graphics. For those, the HP model might be four times faster than competitors'.
At $200, it isn't cheap, though that price does include a small LCD screen and a memory card reader, making it easier to print photos without using a computer. It also does a fine job printing text, at about 30 pages per minuteabout 50 percent faster than typical inkjets.
But speed can killin this case, the prints can fade quickly. That's because the fastest pace comes on a new HP paper called "Advanced Photo," whose image can fade in a year or two if not covered by glass, compared with decades for other HP papers. (A print on Advanced Photo should last 40 years or so if covered by glassstill less than half what can be expected of other HP papers.) The combination of ink and the new paper adds up to about a quarter for a 4-by-6 photo, which is cheaper than many printers but still more expensive than digital prints at the local store. HP hopes consumers will pay a bit more for the convenience of printing at home and that the added speed of its printers will give it an edgeand maybe prove that good looks aren't everything.
A weekly feature of usnews.com, Personal Tech reviews the latest in consumer electronics and gadgets.