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HP Photosmart 385 compact printer

Perfect portable photo printing?

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Review When HP launched its portable PhotoSmart Printer range last year we were very impressed. The print quality was good, the portability great and the overall packages top notch. A year on and there's another model in the range, the 385. Does the new model add anything to the mix? asks Stuart Miles.

HP PhotoSmart 385On the surface nothing has changed, the model is virtually identical in shape and size to last year's release, and you'll be hard pushed to tell the difference.

However, there have been changes. The biggest one is the ability to print panoramic shots using new HP paper stock, but you can also do much more with your images once they're in the printer's memory.

As before, you can print borderless 6 x 4in (10 x 15cm) prints from a variety of memory card formats (Memory Stick, SD, MMC, xD and CompactFlash; Memory Stick Duo and Mini-SD are supported via an adaptor), a PictBridge-supporting camera, or a PC or Mac. The 385 also comes with a Bluetooth adapter for easy direct printing from Bluetooth=enabled camera phones and computers. The new printing option is the ability to choose to print a borderless three-picture panoramic image.

The special paper, which measures 10 x 30cm, fits in the printer lengthways. As long as your final composite image is three shots wide or long, the 385 will happily churn it out. The results are very much like an APS panoramic shot, but the quality is much better because you're building the image from three shots rather than blowing up a single frame.

To view your images, the 385 comes with a flip-up 6.4cm LCD. Here you can select photos to print as well as applying basic edits. Pictures can be magnified, cropped, placed in frames, rotated or brightness-adjusted. The printer will also remove red-eye and features HP real life adaptive lighting technology so you can improve you images all without using a PC.

In practice, it's as easy as it sounds, and selecting and printing the images is very straightforward. The only real drawback we could find was the inability to print multiple copies of the same shot in one go - a curious omission.

Print quality was very good and like previous models we've tested, it's as good as you would get from most professional labs. HP has also made the 385 compatible with its new grey ink cartridge meaning you can print true monochrome images rather than kludging it up from the standard three-colour cartridge.

Verdict

Like previous PhotoSmart models, the 385 is very good and performs well. Adding the optional battery pack makes it a truly portable device and the panoramic printing mode offers something new and different from other models on the market. We also liked the ability to edit our prints without the need for a computer.

All in all this is a top-notch effort from HP, and if you are looking for a printer that can output borderless 6 x 4in (10x15cm) prints on the move, this one carries a strong recommendation.

Review by
Pocket-Lint.co.uk

HP Photosmart 385
 
Rating 90%
 
Pros Panoramic printing mode; portable; great print quality.
 
Cons Can't print mulitple copies of the same image.
 
Price £200
 
More info The HP PhotoSmart site

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