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Steve's Digicams

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

Review posted 11/1/03

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

The HP Photosmart 245 compact photo printer lets you preview, edit and select photos to print from the built in 1.8-inch color LCD. It's easy to print professional-looking borderless 4 x 6-inch photos without a computer. Just slip a digital camera memory card into a compatible card slot (memory card slots support CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Sticks, Secure Digital/MultiMedia Card and xD-Picture Card), view the photos on the color LCD display, select the shots, quantities and sizes you want to print and print. Prints in as little as 90 seconds and the compact design makes it ultra portable for printing photos on the go. Your photos will look true-to-life with crisp detail and vibrant color in up to 4800-optimized dpi.

Photosmart 245 Features:

  • Photo quality printing with up to 4800-optimized dpi
  • Print borderless 4 x 6-inch photos in about 90 seconds
  • Built in 1.8-inch color LCD monitor
  • Print directly from CompactFlash (Type I or II, Microdrive), SmartMedia, Secure Digital / MMC, Memory Stick/MS Pro or xD-Picture Cards
  • Use the card slots to transfer image data to the computer like a card reader
  • High-quality black & white prints with optional hp 59 gray photo inkjet cartridge

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

The Photosmart 245 printer uses the 3-color hp57 print cartridge. If printing black and white photos you can substitute the optional hp59 gray photo inkjet cartridge.

Print Directly from Flash Memory Cards

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

The printer has four flash memory card slots on the front. There is a dedicated slot for CompactFlash Type I or II cards including IBM Microdrive, a slot for SecureDigital or MultiMediaCard, a slot for SmartMedia or xD-Picture cards and a slot for Memory Stick (and Memory Stick Duo, Magic Gate and Memory Stick Pro) cards. Only one card can be inserted at a time, you will receive a warning if you attempt to insert more than one card.

After inserting a memory card, the 1.8-inch color LCD will say "reading card..." and then display the number of photos that it has found. The first picture is shown so you can edit it or print it. You can scroll through your pictures by using the 4-way controller (just like on your digicam).

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

The view from the top - a fairly simple and logical layout of control buttons, clearly marked as to their function. Unfortunately the 1.8-inch color LCD is fixed, it can't be tilted up so the user must stand over the printer to see it.

Simple operation: Insert memory card, view pictures on the LCD and navigate to the desired image, press the PRINT button!

It will also recognize images embedded with DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) information from your digicam and print the selected images automatically.

The ZOOM buttons allow you to zoom-in or zoom-out and perform cropping before the image is printed.

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

The memory card slots act just like a card reader when the printer is connected to a computer via the USB cable. The memory card appears as a removable drive in the "My Computer" folder of a Windows machine. You can easily copy, move or delete files on "Drive K:" using Windows Explorer or any file management program.

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

With Windows XP or Me you will get one of these "popups" on your computer screen (if the printer is connected via USB) whenever a card is inserted. You can select an automatic action such as unload pictures using HP Image Unload Software or Open folder to view or copy the image files.

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

When the printer is closed up it resembles a hi-tech bread toaster and is about the same physical size. HP has an optional carrying case to make this a really portable printing system.

HP Photosmart 245 Photo Printer

The paper tray handles up to 20 sheets of HP's 4x6-inch glossy photo paper. This paper has a tear-off 1/2-inch tab on one end that needs to be removed after printing.

Steve's Conclusion

If all you need to print is 4x6" photos and you want to be able to do that at home or in the field - without a computer - then this may be your printer. The HP 245 can handle almost every current flash memory format via its four built in card slots. Only the newest mini-SD cards will require an optional adapter. Out of the box this printer can directly read and print from CompactFlash (Type I or II, Microdrive), SmartMedia, Secure Digital / MMC, Memory Stick/MS Pro/MS Duo or xD-Picture Cards.

The print time when using this printer in standalone mode is variable due to the size of the image being printed. The printer's internal processor is fairly robust, we saw average print times of two minutes and forty seconds when reading 5-megapixel images from an xD-Picture Card. Using a fast 512MB CF card and 4-megapixel images the print times were about ten seconds faster. Printing from a computer it didn't matter what size or resolution the input image was, the print times were consistently around two minutes and five seconds. Standalone print times were calculated from press of the PRINT button to paper drop in the output tray.

I have to say that install the supplied software (at least in Windows XP) was a ridiculously slow experience. I've installed Photoshop in less time ... Note to HP - whoever you have on your payroll writing these install routines should be fired, hire someone who knows what they're doing. You sit staring at the screen for nearly ten minutes as it says "preparing to install the software" and a progress bar blinks "14%" the whole time. Then suddenly it indicates it is actually installing the software and then it's done. In its defense, it's installing a suite of printing applications as well as the printer driver -- it would just be nice if it told you that rather than making you wonder why it was taking so long. Oh yeah, it failed completely on my main machine with an error on the E: drive, my CD drive. I use this drive daily to read CDs, burn CDs and DVDs and it works fine for everything else. I ended up installing the printer on my Sharp WinXP laptop computer.

The print quality is excellent and most people would be very hard-pressed to tell the difference between HP 245 prints and those made at the local photo lab. Borderless prints require the use of HP's glossy photo paper that has a 1/2-inch tear-off tab on one end.

My only hardware gripe is the color LCD on the top doesn't tilt up, it's fixed flat to the top of the printer. This means that you have to stand over the printer to view it. It would be much nicer to be able to remain seated and tilt the monitor as needed. I also think that at $199 it's priced a too high for a 4x6-only printer. For the same price or less you can buy a Canon or Epson letter-size printer that will do 4x6" photo prints and larger prints up to 8.5x11" as well as being used as a general purpose plain paper printer. On the positive side, the HP 245 is small, light and very portable and makes great photo prints.

Photosmart 245 Specifications

print technology HP Thermal Inkjet
print quality, color Up to 4800-optimized dpi color (up to 4800 x 1200-optimized dpi color on photo paper when printing from a computer and 1200-input dpi)
resolution technology PhotoREt III

  paper handling / media

paper trays, std. std: 1
paper trays, max. up to 1 input trays
input capacity, std. 20 (9-ml photo), 26 (7-ml photo) sheets
input capacity, max. 20 (9-ml photo), 26 (7-ml photo) sheets
output capacity, std. 20 (9-ml photo), 26 (7-ml photo) sheets
output capacity, max. 20 (9-ml photo), 26 (7-ml photo) sheets
duplex printing None (not supported)
media sizes, std. 4 x 6 in, 4 x 6.5 in
media sizes, custom 4 x 6 in, 4 x 6.5 in
media type Paper (plain, HP Photo, other photo)
media weight, recommended 16 to 24 lb

  memory / print languages / typefaces

memory, std. 16 MB
memory, max. 16 MB
print languages, std. HP PCL Level 3 Enhanced


memory card compatibility CompactFlash Type I and II and Microdrive, SmartMedia, Secure Digital/MultiMedia Card, Memory Sticks (Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro, Magic Gate), xD-Picture Card
connectivity, std. Universal Serial Bus
macintosh compatible Yes
compatible operating systems Microsoft® Windows® 98, Me, 2000 Professional, XP Home and Professional; Macintosh OS 9 or OS X v 10.1 through 10.2 on G3 processor or greater
print drivers, std. HP PCL Level 3 Enhanced

  dimensions / weight / warranty

dimensions (w x d x h) 9.1 x 4.4 x 5.1 in
weight 2.9 lb
warranty, std. One-year limited hardware warranty backed by HP Customer Care, service and technical support; one-year technical phone support; (warranties can vary in European countries where legal requirements require a longer warranty period)

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