Jack of all trades

5th January 2001 at 00:00
Printer manufacturers are out to give customers exactly what they want, from a standard printer to the print version of a Swiss Army knife that can scan and fax too. Hewlett-Packard has come up with an inkjet printer that can cope with most of the demands of people or locations using digital cameras and Palm Pilots.

The PhotoSmart 1218 is a quality colour inkjet printer with appeal for any individual or organisation using a variety of digital gadgets. It does the basics very well, a true workhorse that can keep churning out quality A4 pages in black-and-white or colour. An optional module even allows you to print on both sides of an A4 sheet, and it will work on a network.

The "photo" in its name refers to the printer's ability to produce photo-quality prints. The added bonus is that it can handle the memory cards used in digital cameras. You just put your CompactFlash or SmartMedia card into the relevant slot and you can start printing. There are other printers like this, but some of them require you to use your computer to control the printing. With the PhotoSmart printer you can print directly at the printer, wit or without the computer.

Once your card is in the machine a small LCD screen indicates how many pictures you have and then there are a number of printing options. The most straightforward use would be to print out a set of indexed contact prints and then decide which prints are wanted. As long as you are happy with your pictures this is simple - and the printer handles A4 and snapshot size.

Infrared is also catered for. Download a program to your handheld (or HP digital camera or laptop)and simply point it at the printer to print your files.

True to the popular expression, this Jack of all trades is master of none, but for someone who needs this range of functions it is good value. However, if it's just photo-printing you are after, this isn't the machine to wean me away from Epson.

Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart 1218 colour inkjet printer for PC and Mac, capable of printing both sides of A4 paper, with infra-red printing from digital camera memory cards and handheld computers Price: pound;329 inc VAT Online star rating

Suitability for purpose **** Ease of use **** Design **** Value for money ****

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