Out of the box, the HP Photosmart 7838 is a pretty cute model, which seems to be a consistent factor for HP printers these days. This one's sized at 465x230x158 mm and weighs 4.2 kg, which makes it pretty convenient to have on your desktop without worrying about it getting too bulky. It folds up its front trays so it stays compact when not in use and keeps dust away from the insides.
In the front itself you can spot the pict-bridge port, which allows you to print directly from the camera, without the need of a PC. There are also four memory card slots that accept the likes of CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, SD/MMC Cards, xD-Picture Card, etc.
In our tests, the 7838 gave mixed results. While it was pretty good with color reproduction in all our tests, it gave us some serious banding when it came to extreme color gradients. The blacks however stood out better in this model than most other HP printers in similar price range. I have a common complaint in my HP printer reviews that the blacks look more like dark blue, but that wasn't so evident in this one.
Another problem I had with the printer was that it wasn't too sharp with the detail levels. There was visible dithering in all the color prints and the black prints too had a slight smudged look. But all that would not be very visible to the untrained eye; chances are most people will be impressed with it's good quality color reproduction in the prints.
Photo printing at maximum dpi was pretty fast, averaging at around less than six minutes per A4-sized page. It gives a similar performance when we tried document printing on it too, but the ink tends to smudge on plain paper when printed in normal mode. Obviously, this one was meant primarily for high quality paper.
The best part about the printer is its overall cost package. The price of the printer with black and color cartridges is Rs 5,499, and the price for the color and black cartridges is Rs 855 and Rs 852 respectively. This is already a pretty good price for a photo printer of its caliber, but the best part was that it printed out 292 pages in a single cartridge run, before the prints started showing ink depletion. 292 pages is better than all the stand-alone desktop printers, which is a pretty big deal for a photo printer.
So ultimately with the price coming into the picture, the printer suddenly becomes a lot more recommendable just for that. If you're going to use it for casual printing of family photos, you will not be disappointed. But if you are thinking of getting a printer expecting professional photo print quality, this one just wouldn't cut it.
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