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HP Photosmart A636

>> Monday, January 5, 2009

The A636 has the same small print kiosk form of its predecessor. The exterior is still matte black with a glossy output tray that folds down to reveal four media card slots (CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SD or MMC, xD) and a PictBridge USB port. The only aesthetic difference between the A626 and the A636 is the faceplate, which is now light gray instead of blue.

Standing at 5.2 inches tall, 9.9 inches wide, and 4.6 inches deep, the printer takes up very little real estate on a table, and all the trays including the screen, conveniently fold up into the body for clean storage. Conversely, popping open the output tray also releases the rear paper input door and the 4.8 inch color touch screen, our favorite feature on the printer.

Other printers like the Canon Selphy dye sublimation printer use hard navigation buttons surrounding the display to access features, but the A636's touch screen and stylus work much better for direct photo editing. When you're not using the stylus, you can either slide it back into the slot or prop it up on a quill style holder if you're not completely finished editing.

A small door on the front of the printer folds down to reveal the single HP tri-color inkjet print cartridge, and the rear mounted input tray can hold 20 sheets of photo paper in a variety of sizes including 4x6 inch, 5x7 inch, and all the way up to 4x12 inch panoramas. HP sells its compatible photo paper on the HP Web site in a variety of sizes for any application.

The A636 also has the potential to become completely mobile and self sufficient if you purchase a few additional wireless accessories including an external battery pack, Metro Style Carrying Case, and Bluetooth dongle. The printer already has a built in handle, which folds down and out of the way when the printer is stationary, for comfortable transportation.

While other printers require an external disc full of drivers and superfluous software, the Photosmart A636 has all the necessary installation files already preloaded onto the device we were able to set up our unit in less than 2 minutes by simply plugging the printer into our Windows XP desktop the printer did the rest. After a few minutes, the hardware completed its installation and HP's Photosmart Essential Software automatically loaded to indicate a successful install.

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