• Price: 152

  • Company: HP

  • Pros: An excellent printer for the photographer, with great quality and a friendly price tag.

  • Cons: You may find yourself swapping the ink cartridges in and out a lot, and the ergonomics of the paper management isn’t that good.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

HP’s Photosmart 7762 is a decent printer that delivers when it comes to photo quality. The price isn’t bad, either, and the unit is well equipped to print photos from memory cards or directly from a digital camera.

The control panel’s 1.8-inch LCD displays either photos or menu commands, and the flash-memory card slots on the front of the printer read all common memory-card formats. You can connect an HP digital camera to the USB 2.0 port below the card slots. Images can be selected for printing from the LCD menus, as can the quality, size, and number of copies. You can rotate pictures, add simple frames, date-stamp them, and tweak colour and contrast. The LCD can display tiny thumbnails of nine images at a time from the cards.

Glossy photos looked superb, with fine detail, smooth textures, and accurate colour. Greyscale glossies printed with HP’s new photo-grey ink conveyed an unusually good sense of contrast and realism for an inkjet printer.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks. First, the 7762 holds four different ink cartridges, but only two are loaded at a time. The three-colour cartridge always stays in the printer, but depending on whether you’re printing ordinary black text, colour, or greyscale photos, you’ll use a different cartridge in the second well. If you print a wide range of materials, you’ll find yourself constantly swapping the cartridges in and out. You’ll shell out a significant amount of cash to complete the set of inks, too. The printer comes with only the three-colour and photo inks – the cartridge for ordinary black costs £14.45 extra, and the grey cartridge £17 plus VAT extra.

The paper output tray causes a minor problem. It’s sandwiched so tightly on top of the paper input tray that to add paper you have to slide the input tray out, and the fold-out extension flap for the output-support tray is very flimsy. Though the trays lack an envelope bypass, you can keep 4-x-6-inch snapshot sheets ready to print in a little well between the two trays. A lever easily slides the sheets into or out of the paper path.

Like many photo-oriented inkjets, the 7762 doesn’t deliver top quality on other kinds of print jobs. Black text on ordinary paper looked clean enough but somewhat greyish. On ordinary paper, colour prints lost detail, especially in highlights and shadows. Colours seemed washed out, and transitions between shades looked rough. Coated, non-glossy inkjet paper significantly improved results these kinds of print jobs. If you occasionally need to use the 7762 to print text, you’ll find it fast enough, at 5.6 pages per minute. The 7762 also supports a duplexer option, in case you want to save paper on long text documents, or if you want to produce pages for booklets

HP’s idiot-proof driver installation routine loads HP Photo & Imaging. A console common to all HP imaging hardware, this program provides access to various applications. The package includes HP Memories Disc Creator, for producing photo albums on CD, and HP Photo Printing, which provides basic photo tune-up features such as sharpening and colour correction.

The 7762 is ideal for the B&W photographer, and fine for colour if you don’t mind swapping ink cartridges all the time. Considering the price, it’s a good buy.