CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published Monday February 18, 2002

One picture worth column of words

My Olympus digital camera was a good investment three years ago. I've enjoyed e-mailing pictures to family and friends and easily adding images to Web pages. I've never been quite satisfied, however, with printing digital images from the computer. Even with special paper, my older color printer was clearly second-rate to having pictures developed professionally.

 As digital photography has improved, however, so has the capabilities of color printers. Hewlett-Packard now has a line of Photosmart printers designed especially for digital cameras. I'm as thrilled with my new HP Photosmart 1115 printer as I'd be with a brand new car. It's smart, intuitive and specifically engineered with the digital camera user in mind.

The most notable improvement in the Photosmart printer is that you can print directly from your digital camera's memory card. Simply slide the SmartMedia or CompactFlash card directly into the printer, select the photo and print size desired, then print. You can select individual photos or a range of images, using the control panel on the printer. I chose the index option for starters, which printed all the images as numbered thumbnails, so I could then choose specific pictures.

On premium photo paper, the Photosmart yields images up to 2400 x 1200 dpi at speeds of 10 pages per minute in color. When printing from the memory card, the Photosmart will prompt you to select either plain paper or photo paper and adjust the coloration accordingly. There's a built in tray that's designed specifically for 4X6 photo paper as well.

Once the printer is installed, it behaves as an additional drive from which you can view your digital images and then transfer them to your computer, attach to an e-mail message, or upload to the Internet. Simply double click the Photosmart icon in the system tray and your computer will read the memory card directly from the printer. I no longer need a floppy disk adapter to access my digital images -- I can do it from the Photosmart printer.

The HP Photosmart comes with PhotoImpression software for editing your digital images. To use PhotoImpression, you must upload your digital images from the memory card to your PC. Add special effects or fine tune existing images with PhotoImpression. A wide range of print layouts allows you to maximize your investment in pricey high gloss photo paper. You can mix up photos and sizes on a page or choose from one of many Avery templates.

PhotoImpression also lets you easily organize your photos into digital albums.

To achieve the best results from the Photosmart printer, it is advised to use paper designed for photo printing. As mentioned above, these papers can be expensive and pricing often depends on paper thickness. Nine mil 8X10 paper is about 90 cents per page. The same size in 7.5 mil runs 60 cents per page.

The 9 mil 4X6 pages average 50 cents per page. As the thickness decreases, so does the price. The paper is costly but the results are well worth the investment. The colors are vibrant and the pictures professional looking. If you're not printing photos, you can print documents in color as usual using plain paper.

As an optional accessory for the HP 1115 printer, you can purchase a duplexer. This is a device that attaches to the back of the printer and enables true 2-sided printing. It's compatible with many HP printers, not just the Photosmart. No more will you need to manually turn over document pages for printing on both sides.

Hewlett Packard advertises the HP Photosmart 1115 printer for $199.99 and the additional duplex accessory retails for $79.99. Information: www.hp.com.

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.

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