Though the Photosmart A826 is meant to be used in standalone mode, we tested it over a USB connection to a PC so we could make comparisons to other printers. Most snapshot printers fall into a lower price point than this printer, however, so it's difficult to do so.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|152 by 102mm photo speed||
The closest we found was a pair of Epsons, the PictureMate Snap and the PictureMate Flash. Both use the same print engine, so they gave the same performance. The HP beat both of them with a score of 2.37 pages per minute for 152 by 102mm prints. The Epson PM Snap scored 1.24ppm for the same prints.
For the sake of comparison, we also looked at print speeds for comparably priced non-snapshot printers -- ie, PC-connected general purpose printers with a photo emphasis -- and the Photosmart A826 still came out on top. The HP Photosmart D7360 produced 152 by 102mm prints at a rate of 0.54ppm, while the Epson Stylus R380 managed a rate of 1.83ppm.
We really liked the photos produced by the Photosmart A826.
The colours were lifelike, particularly the skin tones. The details
were sharp and we could even make out the fuzzy texture of a peach.
Given the tendency we have to take lots of pictures, but only print a select few, we wonder who the audience for this product will be. Given its size, it's not easily portable, so it would be a hassle to drag it around to family events. We think this printer could find a home among professional party organisers and professional photographers, who could set it up as a photo kiosk for attendees to print images straight off their digital cameras or memory cards, or to display a slide show of the proceedings as they happen.
HP's Digital Mindset blog lists the 'busy mom' as the target audience for the Photosmart A826, but our feeling is that most families are sharing photos online these days using various sites. This would be a fun device for kids to use for making prints, but again, at £170, it's not the most economical choice.
Less expensive alternatives for snapshot printing include the Canon Selphy CP740 and the Epson PictureMate Pal, though admittedly, neither is nearly as fun to use as the Photosmart A826. Despite the high price, HP has broken new ground with this design.
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday