Hewlett-Packard Deskjet 450
By Joel Shore
flying coach, sandwich in one hand, pecking at your laptopís keyboard
with the other. That crucial report, with its
photos, text, and charts, had better be ready. But where to print it?
Hewlett-Packard is betting that its completely redesigned Deskjet Mobile Printer is the
answer. If you donít mind lugging 5 lbs. of gear, HP might just be
Designed for mobile professionals, HP is positioning its Deskjet 450 printer
as a compact powerhouse full of features for fast, hassle-free mobile
printing. The unit delivers 4,800-optimized
dot-per-inch resolution, true-to-life six-ink printing (when
using the special photo cartridge, sold separately), and a
long-lasting lithium-ion battery.
Connection flexibility. The idea behind the Deskjet 450 is to allow busy professionals to
print from a variety of wired and
wireless devices, including notebooks, handhelds, certain mobile phones, and
some digital cameras. An auto/airline adapter and carrying
case support are available for truly portable printing. Parallel,
universal serial bus (USB), and fast infrared connections are standard.
If you want to go wireless, a Bluetooth connectivity option is available.
For additional added convenience, HP offers high-capacity ink
cartridges that print up to 400 color pages.
The marketing folks at Hewlett-Packard really got it right when it
comes to digital photography. Thereís a slot on the back of the
printer where you can insert the CompactFlash memory card from your
digital camera (Smart Media doesnít work). You can then print your
photos immediately without first loading them into your computer
(though you canít crop them or fix problems like red-eye). Pop
in the special photo ink cartridge and some high-gloss photo paper and
you can print those camping-trip pictures, well, while youíre still
camping. It sure would have been nice to have this slot on the front
or side of the printer instead of at the rear. But youíll have no
problem with it.
Print photos without a PC. If your digital camera
uses a CompactFlash memory card, you can plug it into the back
of the Deskjet 450 and print your pictures without first
uploading them to your computer.
There is one catch: Printing directly from the Compact-Flash card
requires that your camera support a specification called DPOF (Digital
Print Order Format). HPís current cameras all support this standard;
if your digital camera is another brand, check its documentation. Of
course, you can always upload the pictures to your computer and print
them the old-fashioned way.
Have battery, will travel. The 450Ci model includes an a.c.
power adapter, but not a battery. Thatís fine if you
donít plan to use the printer away from a power source. But thatís not
what this printer is all about. The reason youíll buy this printer is
to use it anywhereóand that means running on
battery power. You can buy a battery separately, or simply get
the 450Cbi, which includes a battery.
The charcoal-gray battery module is eight inches long and roughly 3⁄4"
in diameter. Thereís a set of four copper electrical contacts at one
and and a thumb-operated spring-loaded latch at the other. It takes
about two seconds to attach it to the rear of the printer. Be sure to
give the battery a complete charge before its first use. And if the
battery feels warm when charging, donít worry: thatís normal.
Thereís one thing about the battery that I
didnít like. The green LED indicator is
ON when the battery is
charging and turns OFF
when the battery is fully charged. Isnít that completely backwards? My
son, when he was two, learned ďgreen means can go!Ē If HP wanted the
light to extinguish when the battery is fully charged, they should
have used a red, not green LED. It would then show red when there is
less than a full charge. An maybe even flash when power was about to
run out completely.
Quality results. The question, of
course, is how good a job such a small printer produces. Well, itís
great. Text was sharp. Charts, with their large areas of solid color,
were bright and vivid. Photos, even with the standard tricolor ink
cartridge, looked very good. When we used the special photo ink
cartridge, results were excellent. But if youíre going to spend the
money it takes to run the photo cartridge, donít print on anything
less than ultra-glossy photo paper. Otherwise youíll be disappointed.
Photos demand gloss paperóon any inkjet printer.
The Deskjet 450 isnít exactly a speed demon.
After all, it was built for portability, not for speed. But medium
speed is better than no printer, isnít it?
Where to use it? Iím not sure that Iíd want to drag any
printer onto an airliner, especially in an age where everything you
carry on is subject to an intense security examination. But I sure do like the idea
of keeping the Deskjet 450 in my car. I canít think of anything
better than printing an up-to-the-second sales proposal, contract, or
other time-sensitive document just moments before walking into a
clientís office. And with the Deskjet 450, I can be sure that Iím in
no way sacrificing quality for timeliness.
Or how about this: At the local youth soccer league, the players
(well, the parents, really) are into keeping statistics. They do
this by hand and then run to the nearest school to make copies. The
battery-powered Deskjet changed everything. First, we set up an Excel
spreadsheet on a laptop PC. Then, when the game ends, the statistician immediately
cranks out copies on the Deskjet. Well, theyíre not really copies;
gets an original and gets it without delay. And all in attendanceóespecially
the kids (they get ice cream sundaes)óare happy.
Not everyone needs
portability in an inkjet printer, but if the idea has you hooked,
Hewlett-Packardís Deskjet 450 is the only way to