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(Pocket-lint) - With digital photography comes a stack load of images, but once you’ve taken them, what then? HP’s answer is to offer a compact portable printer with a built in hard drive, but is this really the answer?

Compared to the other models within the HP compact printer range, the styling of this printer seems to have been styled up a notch. Gone are the plastic covers and in are brushed metal finishes.

The main focus of the controls are found on the top of the unit and surround the 6.4cm LCD screen and because the 475 is geared entirely at working without the need for a computer its here where all the action is found.

Shortcuts are the key here and HP hasn’t been frugal with the buttons. Everything from Zoom to rotate is included and it certainly makes for easier manipulation of your commands. That said a large majority of the options aren’t noticeable until you turn the device on and start working your way through the menu system.

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As we said, HP are expecting users of the Photosmart 475 not to have a computer and its at this point the compact printer shows its main card - the inclusion of a 1.5GB hard drive to store around 2500 images on. Images can be transferred directly from a camera connected to the unit or via a memory card stuck in the 5 card reader at the front of the device.

Those worried at this point that all these features means their computer is now left in the spare room to gather dust shouldn’t be, as the printer can be connected to a PC or Mac via the included USB cable and transferred to and from either via the memory card reader or even the hard drive.

Computers not included, HP has included a number of auto-fixing elements that you can activate at the press of a button including red eye fixing, an auto-enhance feature and on-screen cropping to frame your picture better. Talking of framing pictures, the menu system even offers uses a “Get Creative” feature where you can even add crappy clip art frames to the images if that takes your fancy.

Printing options come in three different sizes - 10x15cm (6x4 inch in old money) larger 13x18cm and 10x30cm panoramic. The print quality is exceptional with images not only printing quickly but depending on the source image as good as you would get from a online printing service.

First Impressions

The 475 has it all really - good print quality, plenty of features and finally the ability to store your images meaning you can use this with a digital camera even if you haven’t got a computer.

The addition of an optional battery pack means you can take this wherever you go and is a must if you are hoping to share the love at a wedding between the service and the party that follows.

Oh and if that wasn’t enough the printer even comes with a remote.

So what’s the bottom line? If you’ve got a computer then probably best to opt for the Photosmart 385 (the model below this) as the storage isn’t really a necessity. However if you're desperate to get on the digital camera train, but already getting fed up of not being able to keep your images this is a very good way out of your dilemma.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 1 March 2006.