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HP Photosmart A826

>> Monday, January 5, 2009

The HP Photosmart A826 is all smooth plastic and rounded edges. Its design is pod like, resembling the 1950s take on futuristic, space age design (it would be right at home in Disney's House of the Future exhibit from the late '50s). It sits 10.4 inches wide at the base (the top is narrower), 9.6 inches deep, and 10.8 inches tall and weighs a light 5.8 pounds.

The printer's top panel flips up for paper loading. Unlike most snapshot printers, the paper is fully contained within the body of the printer. You can load up to 100 sheets of 4x6 or 5x7 paper and close the lid, thereby protecting stored paper from dust. The control panel on the Photosmart A826 couldn't be simpler basically, there isn't one.

When you flip down the front cover or paper output tray, you're faced with four memory card slots and a PictBridge USB port, as well as a plastic stylus in its own holder.

All of the functionality is accessed through the 7 inch touch screen display.

The large screen makes it a pleasure to peruse images, and the screen is nicely responsive to touch, though we found it prefers the stylus to a finger.

(Also, the stylus doesn't leave unsightly fingerprints.) A small panel on the printer's front hides the single print cartridge.

Replacing the print cartridge alone costs about $20, and HP estimates that it will print about 55 4x6 photos. HP also sells an ink and paper value pack that costs $35 for 120 sheets of paper and enough ink for approximately that many photos. This works out to a per print cost of 29 cents for a 4x6, in line with per print costs from other standalone snapshot printers such as the Epson PictureMate series (Pal, Snap, and Flash). The PictureMate line offers both glossy and matte paper. The glossy 4x6 prints cost about 25 cents per print, while the matte prints cost about 33 cents each.

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