HP Photosmart A626 Snapshot Photo Printer - Review

HP Photosmart A626 Snapshot Photo Printer - Review

HP Photosmart A626 Snapshot Photo Printer - ReviewThe HP Photosmart A626 is the middle offering of HP's 2007 Photosmart snapshot printer line. It combines the features and touch screen of the A826 with the small size of the A526. Unfortunately, it also has the same speed and quality issues that plague the A526, and for S$399, we expect a lot more. This printer is stuck in an odd middle ground: You can either go cheaper for the A526 and lose the features, or go more expensive and gain the print speed and quality of the A826.

Design of the HP Photosmart A626 Snapshot Photo Printer

The A626 is very small and portable, much like the A526. Its black-and-light-blue body stand 252mm wide, 132mm deep, and 117mm tall, and weighs just 1.45kg. The entire front panel flips down to reveal four memory card slots and a PictBridge USB port; it also serves as the output tray. Opening the front panel also causes the input tray to pop open in the rear and the LCD to spring open from the top of the printer.

The 4.8-inch LCD is a touchscreen, mounted on movable panel so you can adjust the viewing angle. Alongside the panel is a well for holding the stylus when you're using the printer and a slot to stash away the stylus when you're transporting the printer or putting it away after using it. The touch screen works exactly like the one on the A826 and offers all the same menus. The major difference is that the thumbnail view lets you see only four images at a time (versus the nine images on the A826). Otherwise, the process for viewing, selecting, and editing photos is exactly the same.

Features of the HP Photosmart A626 Snapshot Photo Printer

Like the A526, the paper can't be stored within the body of the A626, so if you don't plan to use the printer for some time, you should remove the paper and store it in a folder or envelope so that it doesn't become coated with dust. (The A826 allows you to store paper inside the printer's body.) The input tray can handle as many as 20 sheets of paper, up to 5 x 7-inch in size (the A526 can only handle 4-inch-wide paper). The ink and paper options for the A626 are the same as those for the A526 and A826. HP estimates that the cartridge can print as many as 55 4 x 6-inch photos. HP also offers an ink-and-paper package that includes 120 sheets of 4 x 6-inch paper and enough ink for that many photos.

Performance of the HP Photosmart A626 Snapshot Photo Printer

In performance tests, the A626 performed more like the A526; that is, on the slow side. It produced 4 x 6-inch photos at a rate of 0.65 page per minute, in line with the A526's 0.70 page per minute. It was slower than the Canon Selphy CP740 (0.92ppm) and the Epson PictureMate Dash (1.42ppm).

We found the prints produced by the A626 to be very similar to those by the A526, as well. The colors were pleasing, but color blocks showed graininess. The whole picture needed to be sharper, too. The dark end of the grayscale showed lots of compression, so we lost details in dark areas. Overall, the image quality is fine for basic snapshots for your fridge, but we'd prefer something better for photo albums or framing.