In the context of A3 photo printers, the HP Photosmart B8550 is almost a budget model, with an RRP of just £265. Does it have budget output though? Our tests suggest not - with crisp prints making the most of the machine's five ink tanks.

Colours came out vivid and vibrant, greys looked properly grey rather than shades of green or red. Our only real issue with the HP Photosmart B8550's prints was at the bottom end of the spectrum, where the darkest greys and blacks merged into each other. Not the best at handling shadow or subtlety.

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Although considerably cheaper than most rival A3+ photo printers, the HP Photosmart B8550 wasn't the slowest printer we've tested either, clocking up a better output speed than the mighty Canon Pixma Pro9500 (see also our updated Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II review).

With its focus on a different type of customer, the HP Photosmart B8550 ships with some hardware features the other printers deem too frivolous to include. For example, a built-in LCD screen helps you to configure the machine, as well as print direct from your camera through PictBridge or from a memory card.

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The HP Photosmart B8550 also has a special loading tray for A5 and below photo prints, making it the ideal machine for running off a few holiday snaps.

At just 7.5kg, the HP Photosmart B8550 is relatively lightweight too. In contrast to some other large photo printers, the outer case might almost be described as fragile.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Macworld.co.uk

HP Photosmart B8550 [PC]: Specs

  • Colour Thermal Inkjet printer
  • 5 Print Cartridges
  • Standard Resolution: 1200x1200dpi
  • Photo Resolution (Max): 9600x2400dpi
  • Maximum Paper Size: A3+
  • Double Sided Printing (Duplex) Type: Manual (Driver Support Provided)
  • 2x Paper Trays, 125 Sheet Input Tray, Automated 10x15cm Photo Tray, 50 Sheet Output Tray
  • Memory (Maximum): 128MB
  • 6.1in colour LCD monitor
  • supports Compact Flash, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Card, Sony Memory Stick, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, xD-Picture Card
  • 580x389x277mm
  • 7.6kg
  • Colour Thermal Inkjet printer
  • 5 Print Cartridges
  • Standard Resolution: 1200x1200dpi
  • Photo Resolution (Max): 9600x2400dpi
  • Maximum Paper Size: A3+
  • Double Sided Printing (Duplex) Type: Manual (Driver Support Provided)
  • 2x Paper Trays, 125 Sheet Input Tray, Automated 10x15cm Photo Tray, 50 Sheet Output Tray
  • Memory (Maximum): 128MB
  • 6.1in colour LCD monitor
  • supports Compact Flash, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Card, Sony Memory Stick, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, xD-Picture Card
  • 580x389x277mm
  • 7.6kg

OUR VERDICT

At this price and with these features, the HP Photosmart B8550 is aimed squarely at everyday consumers – holiday snappers and poster makers – rather than at enthusiastic creatives. But with budgets squeezed hard for everyone, it wouldn’t be too much of a compromise for serious amateur photographers to plump for this model.

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