HP now has an inkjet system in place that is simple to use and uses excellent easy-to-use technology that makes printing less a chore and actually quite fun. The D7360 incorporates HP’s latest, high capacity Vivera separate ink tanks, its new Advanced Photo Paper technology (that allows for faster output while retaining quality) and a simple, intuitive to use printer design that boasts a nice 3.4-inch colour touchscreen, of which more on which later...
The D7360 looks very smart indeed. It looks tidy because the buttons are reduced thanks to a large 3.4-inch touchscreen that is easy to use with a finger, so no stylus needed. The interface is well thought-out as it leads you logically through the options or steps without the need for extra menus. Once it’s ready to go - or you are happy - pressing a button actions your selected choice.
Set-up is fast and does not require the guide, although it will help those of you who have not set up a printer before. The inks slot into six colour-coded (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, light cyan and magenta) front-mounted ports so there is no mucking about with the printer head carriage for example. Once done, a once-only ink charge cycle starts and it will print a head alignment sheet automatically and you’re ready to rock.
Direct printing via memory card slots - of which you get CF Type I/II, xD PictureCard, MMS/SD and Memory Stick and Duo (with an adapter) - are all housed under a flap on the front plate. There are also front (PictBridge) and back mounted USB2.0 slots. Slightly disappointingly, you can only read one memory card at a time.
Alternatively, you can connect it to your PC via the supplied USB cable and run the printer from the supplied driver. In fact, the supplied software is very simple to use and you even get a basic editing and image organising package (HP Photosmart Studio) into the bargain as well, so this is great for anyone starting out that lacks any such software.
The touchscreen interface is excellent with a couple of caveats, the forward/back button strip at the bottom blocks part of the images you’re reviewing when direct printing and the screen, while large, lacks resolution. However, scrolling through images is fast and any videos you shoot can be viewed on the printer as well (though without sound).
Also, there is no user override of the print settings via the screen - the printer’s paper sensor will identify the paper loaded in the tray and get the “best” settings for it. On the plus side, this means you don’t have to worry about getting good prints, unless you want to override it of course. In which case you’ll have to revert to PC controlled printing. And if you place paper in the feed tray upside down, the printer will stop and tell you by spitting the paper out and telling you to load it the other way up. Neat!
As with most HP printers, the paper feed and delivery trays sit one over the other, so paper is placed in the feeder print-side down, it feeds into the printer and is turned over and out as it prints. This saves space and helps make a smaller printer, but can cause marking on your prints and means longer print runs have to be hand held all the way since you’ll only get 100-sheets of paper into the feeder and 50-sheets on the delivery tray.
But what of the print quality?
Print quality is almost always excellent, colours are vibrant and rich, suffering only slightly in top quality modes, where they appear more muted. Black and white prints are very neutral (which is great) but are quite dark compared to the original files. However, once again the printer can offer minor on-board edits for direct printing, while you’ll need to cater to such foibles in the drivers or image editing software if printing from your PC.
Priced at a penny under £200, the D7360 is not particularly cheap, but it provides a great user experience and provides superb output.
It’s fast, but some of the claimed print speeds are only attainable with HP media, particularly top-quality photos that’ll need Premium Plus Photo Paper and depending on your system set-up and document complexity.
Even then, it’s still slower than quoted speeds in the highest optimised 4800dpi quality setting no matter what.
However, if you’re after a comprehensive, simple to use and economical to run photo printer, the HP Photosmart D7360 is excellent and should be on or very near the top of your list.