Oct 18, 2005

Four top photo printers

PC Magazine has picked their top 4 photo printer picks. If you're like most snap-happy digital camera owners, you probably have a boatload of digital photo files filling up hard drive space, but have printed out very few of them. You could always go to a kiosk in your local drugstore or send them to an online photo service. But what if you want your print here and now? A photo printer may just be what you need to fulfill your need for instant gratification. But we know choosing the right one from the myriad choices out there can be daunting. Never fear: We bring you our picks in various photo printer categories.

If you're looking for a printer for printing out photos only, a dedicated photo printer is what you need. We recommend the Epson PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition. Not only does this dedicated photo printer offer the same true photo quality output and low price as its predecessor, the Epson PictureMate, it also adds faster performance and an LCD screen for previewing images. The optional battery makes it a snap to print out photos without needing to plug in first.

If your printing needs run toward text and graphics, as well as photos, then a photocentric inkjet should be right up your alley. PC Magazine's Editor Choice, the HP Photosmart 8250, offers direct printing from PictBridge cameras and memory cards, as well as a 2.5-inch color LCD for previewing photos and a separate 4-by-6 inch tray. Its performance on our benchmark tests and solid ratings for text and graphic quality also make it a good pick for an all-purpose printer as well.

For those who live a mutltitasking lifestyle, an all-in-one printer with photo printing capability is your best bet. Our pick: the Canon Pixma MP760 Photo All-in-One. This AIO not only offers printing, scanning, and standalone copying capability, it also features slots for printing directly from memory cards and a connector for printing directly from a PictBridge camera. An added bonus is the transparency adapter for scanning and printing directly from 35mm film and slides.

There are some people, of course, for whom digital photography is more than just a hobby; it's a real passion. They are the types who aren't satisfied with anything less than an SLR camera and a collection of bayonet-mount lenses. It makes sense that they wouldn't settle for anything less than a printer that can produce the best output quality. We gave our nod to the Epson Stylus Photo R2400. With its high price tag, this is no photo printer for the dabbler. But what you get is the ability to print output of up to 13 by 44 inches, using roll paper or cut sheets, and produce superb photos that are also waterproof, smudgeproof, and of archival quality. The R2400 lacks a PictBridge connector or memory slots, but anyone interested in this level of photo printer will want the quality you can get only by printing from a graphics program.
Epson PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition
Epson PictureMate Deluxe Viewer Edition Photo Printer

This dedicated photo printer can print directly from computers, memory cards, PictBridge cameras, and even USB drives. It also has an LCD to preview images.

HP PhotoSmart 8250 Printer
HP Photosmart 8250 Printer (Q3474A#ABA)

This photocentric inkjet printer offers fast printing and quality at the high end of very good. It also handles text and graphics well, making it a good pick as a single, all-purpose printer as well.

Canon Pixma MP760 Photo All-in-One
Canon PIXMA MP760 All-in-One Photo Printer

This offers a transparency adapter for scanning and printing directly from slides and film. It also offers direct printing from Pictbridge cameras and memory slots. It handles all its functions-printing, scanning, copying, and photo printing-with aplomb.

Epson Stylus Photo R2400
Epson Stylus Photo R2400 Ink Jet Printer (C11C603011)

This is a photo printer for serious photographers. It uses Epson's UltraChrome K3 ink technology, which, with the right paper, yield superb photos that are also waterproof, smudgeproof, and of archival quality.

Whether you're a casual photographer or a hardcore pro, one of our favorite photo printers is sure to fit your needs. Whichever you choose, you're guaranteed to hold evidence of that great moment in your hand almost as soon as you capture it with a click.