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Think you can’t trust your precious memories to a hundred-dollar printer? You’re in good hands with HP.
Given how large the universe of $100 photo printers has grown, it can be difficult to decide exactly which one to throw your 100 bones toward. Do you honor brand loyalty to Epson, HP, or Canon—and when you choose among those, which model do you go for? If you’re already an HP loyalist—or even if you’re not—the HP Photosmart D5460 is a worthy choice for outputting all your favorite snaps, as well as standard Word docs, Google Maps directions, and other home or small-business print jobs. It can print directly on printable CDs and DVDs too.
For printing basic docs, the D5460 is impressively speedy—spitting out a two-page full-color PDF in 38 seconds; 4-by-6-inch snapshots set on Best quality took a bit longer, though: 2 minutes, 9 seconds. But the instantly dry prints were worth the wait, and the photos looked great, with true-to-life skin tones, bright reds, blues, and greens, and deep blacks.
Our only gripe about printing photos with the D5460 was the kludgy print dialogs presented by HP’s driver software. We had to enlist a friend’s help to figure out how to tell the printer to use photo print settings and to pull sheets of HP Advanced Photo Paper from the 20-sheet 4-by-6-inch photo tray. The more-confusing-than-necessary process required us to press Command-P from within Photoshop, select the printer, click Print, then in the resulting dialog, choose Paper Type/Quality, then choose our specific type of photo paper, select the photo tray, and so on—way more clicks and selections than we’d like just to print a pic to send to Grandma.
That said, if you’d rather print directly from your camera’s removable memory card (the printer takes almost every format in existence), you can certainly do so, using the printer’s buttons and the 1.5-inch LCD, though we much prefer printing from within a photo-editing app like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Printing directly from a card is truly a cinch, with the added bonus that your Mac will recognize the card when you insert it into the printer, and you can import your photos into iPhoto (or, if you prefer, launch Image Capture) from there.
The D5460’s gorgeous prints are thanks to a new 5-ink system, which means the standard lineup of Vivera ink cartridges includes two blacks, plus magenta, cyan, and yellow. We printed several dozen 4-by-6-inch shots without hearing a peep about low ink levels. The cartridges cost $9.99 each (approximately 250 pages) or $14.99 for an extra-large size (around 750 pages).Despite a clunky process for printing photos from within an image editor, the Photosmart D5460 turns out gorgeous photos and doesn’t consume ink like a pig at the trough the way some printers in its class do. For 100 bucks, it’s a fabulous value.