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HP Photosmart A626
Snapshot printers are gaining a good amount of popularity, which makes perfect sense considering how amazing their print quality is and how user-friendly they generally are. The HP Photosmart A626 is definitely one of the smaller snapshot printers we've seen lately. With its toaster-inspired design and compact size of 11.7 x 13.2 x 25.2 cm, it's easy to pack this one into anything and carry it on your little vacations. It even comes with a nifty handle for toting around!
The glossy piano finish exterior, which seems to be the material of choice for most manufacturers these days, will look smashing at first, but you had better have someone around polish it with a lot of love and devotion to keep it that way. Or else... well, you know what happens to iPods, don't you?
Though the main USB connectivity of the A626 is at the back, the front part can be flipped down for PC-free connectivity options. There are four memory card slots to cover most of the commonly used card standards. Then there's the Pict-Bridge port and the slot for loading the single cartridge this uses. You can also buy upgrades that allow you to connect to the printer via Bluetooth or WLAN.
The main highlight of the printer is its large, adjustable, touchscreen LCD display that comes with a convenient stylus. The display is as user-friendly as it gets, and the touchscreen options help reduce the button clutter on the printer body.
In our performance tests we printed pictures of various types (taken from D-SLRs, consumer cameras, phone cameras, artwork etc), at the maximum resolution (1200 dpi) until the prints started to show signs of ink depletion. Only a couple of prints were taken in normal print mode, for quality determination. All the tests were done on 4x6 inch glossy photo paper.
The printing speed at maximum dpi was pretty slow at around 2:2 minutes, rather lower than what I've seen in other snapshot printers. Sure, you could always print in normal mode to speed things up, but that isn't too fast either at around 52 seconds a print. Most home users wouldn't be too bothered if all they do is print a couple of pictures at a time, but when you want your entire vacation album printed, I'd suggest you spool the prints and head for lunch.
Color quality is bright and lively, just as one can expect from Vivera inks. The black levels seemed great, which worked really well for B&W prints. It was only in a few cases where some shades of red looked a bit brighter than they should, but otherwise the colors are a-okay!
The print sharpness looked great at maximum resolution, but there's little the A626 does to hide image compression marks. Besides that, on closer inspection the sharpness levels seemed just a little lower than what we're used to from such printers. On magnification the lines seemed a bit more jagged than usual, but not to the extent where you'd spot it with the naked eye.
The best thing about the A626 is its print output: we got a whopping 40 prints at the highest quality settings before the ink showed signs of running out. That's a lot higher than all other snapshot printers we've reviewed so far, and is quite commendable.
Rs 7,999 (MRP) is actually a pretty affordable price for a printer of this caliber; and considering the print output you can get out of it, Rs 840 (plus taxes) for its cartridge isn't too bad either. The quality levels may not be at par with some of the other snapshot printers we've come across, but the print quality is good enough for frame-worthy photos. If you're in the market for snapshot printers, do give this one a thought.