*NEWS*A PRINTER TO MAKE YOU THINK AGAIN

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*NEWS*A PRINTER TO MAKE YOU THINK AGAIN

 user 2006-04-07 at 1:49:00 pm Views: 55
  • #15137

    A Printer to Make You Think Again
    All-in-one units that handle photos, text, and faxes held little appeal for me — until I put HP’s latest offering through its paces
    I’ve always been interested in the idea of an all-in-one printer, but never had cause to own or use one. In general, I’ve subscribed to the fundamental idea that a printer and IMAGE scanner are fundamentally different devices intended to do different things.
    That’s why I have both a printer and a scanner taking up desk space in my home office. At least I have the good sense to avoid owning a fax machine, using J2′s  jConnect for those odd times when I need to send or receive a fax.
    JACK OF ALL TRADES.  But combining all these things — and throwing in a copier and photo printer with network connectivity for good measure — is all the rage among printer manufacturers these days. Suddenly, the idea of saving desk space with an all-in-one unit is becoming clear.
    What made me a convert is Hewlett-Packard’s  Photosmart 3310, which I’ve been testing. It’s somewhat similar to Epson’s RX700 but with a few more features, like integrated faxing .
    Like rival models it can print photos directly on glossy 4-by-6-inch paper, producing prints that are every bit as reliable as the best drug-store processors from the vanishing days of film. On the front right-hand side of the body are four slots for various flash memory formats, including SD cards, XD cards, Compact Flash, Sony’s  Memory Sticks, and even USB keychain drives. It works with PCs running both Microsoft’s  Windows or Apple’s  Macs.
    UNWELCOME NOVELTY.  When printing text, I got about 5 pages per minute. When I made a copy of plain text it took about 20 seconds. A color photo printed to plain paper took a little more than 90 seconds, while a single snapshot on the 4-by-6-inch photo paper required a little less than a minute. All this means that if you’re waiting on a big batch of printing jobs, keep a jar of patience handy.
    One problem I did encounter was that twice when I intended to print photos on the smaller-sized glossy paper, I forgot to press the “photo tray” button and had to wait for the plain-paper version to emerge before switching to the photo tray.
    Another thing I noticed was something I never thought a printer would never do: It crashed, twice. On the first day, I used it, I came back to my desk to find what can only be described as the “blue screen of death” we all hate from our PC-related nightmares. This time, however, it was in miniature.
    MULTITALENTED.  The small display at the front of the unit carried an error message against a screen with a bright blue background. Thankfully, when it happens on a device like this, it’s not nearly as much of a disaster as with a PC. I simply reset the unit by turning it off and restarting, after which it seemed to run normally. The disconcerting thing was that the error screen appeared twice within the space of about three hours. Seems to me that there’s a firmware upgrade needed.
    There were a few other features which I didn’t get to test. I didn’t try running the printer on a network, for example, or via a Wi-Fi wireless networking connection, but it comes ready for these interfaces out of the box.
    Overall, the Photosmart 3310 was sufficient to challenge my notion that the best PC peripherals are like a KFC restaurant — they only do one thing really well. Now they can do five or six things well enough, and will only get better.