Colour printing made easy

Roger Frost

HP Deskjet 693C Hewlett-Packard colour inkjet printer with Disney's 101 Dalmatians Print Studio CD-Rom. For Windows PCs, Pounds 279 (Pounds 237. 45 excluding VAT) Optional colour photo kit for around Pounds 30-Pounds 40. Available from retail outlets.

Here is an unusually good colour printer as well as all you need to produce some lovely projects within an hour of opening the box. The simple software holds your hand through making invitations, photographs, fridge magnets and transparent window pictures.

Though I don't suppose anyone will buy this simply to print these, or banners, certificates and growth charts, the bundled Disney Dalmatians software is a nice round-off to a painless setting-up operation: when you connect the printer to a Windows '95 machine, the computer seems to take over and tell you what to do. While that hints that the printer is aimed at the home, there's no reason why schools should not have it easy too.

Compared with its five-year-old predecessor, the impressive HP 550C, this is faster and the quality of printed text and graphics is even better. Only those who need to print in quantity will want a laser printer - and then even that would tax cheap laser printers.

An optional extra, called a Photo Cartridge, performs some magic that allows you to make "near-photograph quality" prints on a new glossy photo paper. You replace the black cartridge to get a double-barrelled, two-colour cartridge printer where the results are almost worth framing. Budget for new cartridges and a stock of decent paper.

Dalmatians might not be in the curriculum, or make the most colourful subjects, but when children's work can look this good, quality printing really does look like a basic human right. And so here's just one new line for tomorrow's curriculum: "All children should print their work in gob-smacking colour and then say, 'I did that'."

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