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HP Photosmart P1100 Printer Review
HP Photosmart P1100 Printer Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Back when personal computers were still a "novelty" item in the 1980's, it was often believed that computers would usher in a new era of the paperless office. Rather than work with reams and reams of paper, we would work with the data in a digital fashion. While this did seem like a good idea at the time, the amount of paper still present in today's busy offices (and homes) suggests otherwise. If anything, the computer has prompted us to use more paper instead of less.
 90% Rating:   
Filed under: Printers Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: HP Dec 14 2000   D. Deveaux  
Home > Reviews > Printers > HP Photosmart P1100

Installation and Digital Camera Interface

Considering the printer has both Compact flash and Smartmedia memory slots, it can accommodate many digital cameras currently on the market from vendors such as Kodak, Casio, Canon (Compact flash) and Olympus & Fuji (Smartmedia) among others. Note however that the P1100 does not support Compact flash Type II+ cards, which rules out support for the pint sized IBM Microdrives (although the newer Photosmart 1215 and 1218 printers apparently support them). This isn't such a downfall however, as few consumer level digicams even support the Microdrive.

Once a card is inserted into the appropriate slot, the printer reads all the images, then awaits input as to the paper size and type, which images to print, etc. Since it's quite possible to forget what image #1 was, the printer can print off a nice little index print similar to those included with developed Advanced Photo System (APS) film. The index print is a handy way to view small thumbnails of the pictures stored on the card, and is definitely a wise move by HP to include this feature.

Another feature of the memory card slots, is that it allows the printer to be used as a memory card reader for a PC. This is primarily useful for those with cameras that attach via the slow serial port, as the printer can easily transfer the images via USB cable if it is supported by the computer. While most cameras are coming with USB connections, quite a few older cameras (and some inexpensive newer ones) are still hampered by the serial port. Once the Save button is pressed, a dialog box appears on the computer, prompting for a save location. If drag and drop transfers are easier for you, there is also an icon in My Computer to facilitate this.

Finally, the P1100 offers one more way to communicate with a digital camera: wirelessly. Provided the digital camera has an infrared port (some newer HP models currently do), images can be sent simply by lining up the IR ports, and clicking a Send button on the camera. This printer also supports a new standard entitled Digital Print Order Format (DPOF). DPOF is used to specify which pictures, and how many of each picture should be printed, and is controlled by the camera itself. Nice for those times when a shot is taken, and several people want a printout right away. Simply press a few buttons on the camera, point it at the printer, and wait a few minutes for the finished prints.

HP has definitely done an excellent job with the digital camera interfaces available on the P1100. While some features seem to be limited to HP cameras at the moment, expect other manufacturers to include features such as IR and DPOF information.

Upon unpacking the box, the first thing that jumps out is a rather large setup poster. Knowing this printer was designed with the consumer in mind, HP definitely spared no expenses here. The poster was well laid out and full of excellent illustrations to guide almost anybody through the setup process with ease.

Upon plugging in the printer for the first time, the printer runs a quick internal self test, then instructs the user to install both the cyan/magenta/yellow color cartridge, and the large capacity black cartridge. Upon doing this, the printer automatically prints off an alignment page. This is one feature I wish more manufacturers would implement for sure. As one who has trouble seeing really fine details, I'm not always able to figure out which pattern is the straightest on most alignment patterns. The P1100 takes the guesswork out of this, and ensures perfect alignment, every time.

Unlike my experience with the HP Scanjet 3300C, the Photosmart P1100 can be plugged in before installing the driver software. (Note that some people have successfully done this with the 3300C scanner, but during my tests, this often failed). The P1100's installation went flawless, and I didn't even have to reboot at the end to finish loading the drivers. Considering this was done on a Windows Millennium Edition system, it was a major surprise, as this OS is noted for requiring reboots quite often.


To put it mildly, this printer is one of the best inkjets I've had the opportunity to work with (I've worked with a variety of Lexmark, Epson, Canon, and other HP units). When printing on plain paper, text was fairly sharp, and extremely close to laser quality. Photos had excellent color reproduction, with only a slight hint of banding in some gradient filled images. Overall sharpness for photos wasn't bad, with only a slight blur noticed under close examination. Considering that plain paper is noted for absorbing ink, the slight blurriness was tolerable.

Printing a 4x6 photo really shows this printer's strength. When paired with this paper, printouts are phenomenal. Aside from a ½" border along the edges, it's extremely difficult to tell the images from an actual photo. Note that the source images were high resolution photo images from Corel Photo Paint, but it just proved that the printer can easily reproduce photos with ease.

In terms of overall speed, you'll notice the specifications above called for slower speeds in relation to what other manufacturers claim. This is not a mistake, however, as I took the ratings HP quotes for Normal printing times. Whereas most manufacturers will promote printing speeds based on draft (or economy) mode, it is nice to see HP offering more realistic speed ratings based on the quality that most people will be printing with.. On average, I was able to print about 3 4 pages per minute of full page text documents in Normal mode, and about 2 3 pages with mixed text & color graphics. When using draft mode, the printer was able to churn out about 8 9 pages of text per minute, and about 6 pages of mixed text/graphics. Certainly not bad overall, and the output is definitely worth the wait.

On a side note, the well detailed 4x6" photo mentioned above took about 2 minutes to print at Best quality (perhaps one of the fastest speeds I've seen for this type and quality of image.

Final Thoughts

While I didn't have a digital camera, nor some memory cards, to test with this printer, it is clearly obvious where this printer shines: photographic output. Whether you're a serious digital photographer, or simply need to reproduce family photos along with average documents, the P1100 is definitely a printer to look into. Currently available from HP's website for $399 US, it's definitely a great value for what you are getting.

*Note that HP has recently introduced a few more Photosmart printers, such as the 1215 and 1218, which utilize the same cartridge and PhotoREt III technology, but add faster speeds and automatic paper sensing capabilities. Even still, the P1100 still makes for an attractive printer, and one I'd still highly recommend.

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Contents of Article: HP Photosmart P1100
 Pg 1.  HP Photosmart P1100 Printer Review
 Pg 2.  Drivers and Software
 Pg 3.  — Installation and Digital Camera Interface

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