The holidays mean two things: your family taking pictures, and your family recruiting you to print said pictures. This annoyance, coupled with the vast improvements in inkjet technologies over the past few years, means that most Gizmodo parents are ready for an upgrade.
Watch the sub-$200 HP Photosmart D7360 and Canon Pixma MP500 duke it out for all the affection you never had in our innovative bar graph. Then hit the jump for the Frankenreview: what happens when reviews from CNET, PCMag, PCWorld and PrinterSpot agree to live in a house and have their lives taped.
"The Canon Pixma MP500 is low, wide, and smooth, like an Italian sports car."
"We like the dual-LED icon next to the feed switch, which helps you toggle between the paper trays."
"It has a tilting 2.5-inch LCD screen and memory card slots so you can print without the help of a computer."
"The Photosmart D7360 has a large 3.4-inch tilting LCD — that's about an inch larger than typical displays currently on the market."
"...you can keep both standard letter-size paper and 4-by-6 photo paper loaded and switch between them without having to change paper every time. Alternatively...you can keep two different sizes of photo paper loaded."
"The HP Photosmart D7360 is on the bulky side for a single-function printer..."
Winner: Canon. It's a much sexier design despite including all-in-one functionality.
"If you're printing directly from a PictBridge-enabled camera, use your digital camera's memory card, use infrared via a device such as your phone, you can use the Pixma MP500 right out of the box..."
"Unlike several of its rivals and many photo printers, the MP500 doesn't let you read images from a USB flash drive attached to its direct-print port."
"One thing the MP500 won't control directly from the printer is printing images smaller than 4 x 6 inches. It automatically scales the image to fit to the maximum paper size without giving you the option of printing at its original size."
"[With the HP]...Plug in a memory card or USB key with photos on it, preview your photos, choose print options, and give the print command through the 3.4-inch touch screen."
"You can watch the video play back on the LCD, stop it at the frame you want, then print. To find just the right frame, you can pause the video and slowly step through frame by frame, either forward or back."
"You can even view animated demos of maintenance tasks, such as loading paper and cartridges, and clearing paper jams."
"It's the perfect interface for computerphobes..."
"...the easiest to use printer we have ever reviewed."
Winner: HP. Guess that extra bulk pays off somewhere.
"The MP500 averages 1:11 per print - substantially faster than two similar photo printers. For 8.5 x 11s, it took an average of 2:58."
"On Premium Plus paper, the HP D7360 is slow, averaging 1:45 per 4 x 6-inch print....However, when printing on HP Advanced Photo Paper, the HP D7360 is the fastest in the market..."
Ed Note: With HP Advanced Photo Paper, the printer averages 53 seconds per print. 8.5 x 11s take 1:17.
"Performance [for the Canon mp500] is a strong point. On our business applications...the MP500 took 15 minutes, 17 seconds, total..."
"[The HP clocks] in at 15:08 on our business applications suite..."
Winner: HP. HP wins the photos, but due to the more expensive paper, we needed more to determine the winner. Then HP also won general office printing speeds with normal paper.
Photo Printing Quality
"[With the Canon]...On photo paper we saw beautifully sharp images with bold colors.
"On our graphics test print, curves were smooth and sharply rendered, but we saw quite a bit of banding in gradients, especially in the grayscale..."
"...with shading changing suddenly where it should change gradually..."
"...slightly cyan-biased skin tones..."
"[With the HP]...the only problem we found was noticeable graininess in blocks of color."
"Most users will like its photo quality, but we've seen better. On photo paper, the darkest areas lacked some detail and exhibited a bluish tint, while skin tones looked too bronzed..."
"The printer recreated skin tones darker than the original with more saturation and contrast. The skin tones are realistic and the model actually seems more alive than the original image."
"...oversaturated and a little dark."
Winner: Tie. Each printer seems to have its own problems. I'm scared of the Canon's difficulties with gradients, but resentful that the HP won't print with less contrast than it's told (see above, original on left). But mom, she will love them both.
Overall winner: HP. Mom will like the HP because it has the best standalone interface, and let's face it, she has no clue that her printer should be any smaller. Dad will like feeling cool that he can freezeframe videos of himself dancing nude in the bathroom mirror...to later give to mom.
Canon Pixma MP500 Specs
B&W Pages per Min.: 29 • Color Pages per Min.: 19 • Max. B&W dpi: 600 by 600 • Max. Color dpi: 9600 by 2400 • Max. Scanning dpi: 1200-by-2400 • Tray Capacity, pages: 150 • Price When Reviewed: $200
HP Photosmart D7360 Specs
B&W Pages per Min.: 32 • Color Pages per Min.: 31 • Max. B&W dpi: 1200-by-1200 • Max. Color dpi: 4800-by-1200 • Tray Capacity, pages: 100 • Price When Reviewed: $200