Home > Product Reviews > Printer Reviews > HP Photosmart 145 Review

HP Photosmart 145 Review

Highs

  • Compact size
  • true portability
  • relatively inexpensive
  • on-board media reader

Rating

Our Score 6
User Score 6

Lows

  • Poor LCD quality
  • average photo quality prints
  • only supports a single cartridge
The HP Photosmart 145 photo printer is small and light enough to easily tuck into an overnight bag.

Summary

The HP Photosmart 145 definitely has it’s drawbacks, including the monochrome LCD, lack of onboard photo editing tools, and a single 3-ink cartridge. But at an average price of $145 it has some appeal to users wanting an entry level compact and mobile photo printer. True to HP’s advertising, this printer is ultra-portable and easy to travel with.

Those wanting a little more polish and function, may want to consider the HP Photosmart 245, which at just $50 more solves some of the issues discovered with the Photosmart 145.

Overview

The HP Photosmart 145 is an extremely small and lightweight entry into the compact photo printer arena. Weighing less than 3 pounds and measuring a scant 9.1 inches wide by 4.4 inches high by 4.9 inches deep, the HP 145 is truly a small mobile printer that fits in the palm of your hand.

Hewlett-Packard states that this $149.99 printer allows you to print 4×6-inch professional-looking, borderless color photos without having to use a computer. It features a built in media card reader and a text-based LCD.

For those wanting to bring their printer along in their travels, the HP Photosmart 145 photo printer is small and light enough to easily tuck into an overnight bag.


The ultra-portable HP Photosmart 145 photo printer

Features and Design

The Photosmart 145 is finished in the usual HP silver and gray and the components have a nice, clean fit and finish.

The front of the unit features a flip-down input tray with hinges that are strong and sturdy. This tray can hold up to 20 sheets of 4×6-inch stock.

A small issue with compact printers is that adequate clearance must be given to the rear of the unit. As the paper traverses the input path the paper protrudes the back of the unit during printing. The Photosmart 145 is no different from other compact printers in that it also suffers from this issue.

Completing the standalone feature of the printer is a four slot storage card reader found just above the input tray. This flash storage reader can handle CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/Multimedia Card, and x-D Picture card formats. The unit allows you to print from any one of these types of media, and like other HP printers, from select HP cameras via the printer’s USB port.

All of the control buttons are found on the top of the unit. These buttons these allow you to select photos, save to memory card, change the layout and make multiple copies. Above these buttons is the LCD display.

Printing resolution is a respectable 4800-optimized DPI and the printer is compatible with Windows 98 and above and Mac OS 9 and above.


The front panel flips out to reveal the print tray and the built-in media card reader

A Few Areas Of Concern

Several design and layout issues on the Photosmart 145 were areas of concern with us. Those of you familiar with the built in LCD displays in many of today’s printers may be disappointed in the display on the HP 145. The LCD display is monochrome instead of color and you can’t actually see the photos displayed – it is textual only.

You’ll need to print an index card of your photos in order to reference them through the display. This is definitely a drawback in this unit and a big annoyance if you have a lot of pictures to print.

Another issue with the LCD is that there are no editing features other than the ability to change the layout of the picture. To edit our photos we had to use either the editing tools that came on the HP CD or a third party graphics program. This usually isn’t an issue but in this case it really defeats the purpose of having a mobile printer. In fact, this really takes away from HP’s statement that this printer offers “easy printing on the go” without the need of a computer.

As more printers offer on-board digital media card readers and those digital cards have greater capacity, the USB 1.1 specification is going to really slow things down. This unit is USB 1.1 as most printers are these days.

Someone at some printer manufacturer decided several years ago that they would no longer provide a print cable with their retail packages and most other companies followed suit. The HP 145 suffers from that issue also, so if you don’t have a USB cable, you’ll need to purchase one before you can use this product.

Our final issue with this printer concerns the print cartridge it uses. The Photosmart 145 is designed to use only one cartridge at a time, so if you wish to convert to black and white printing you’ll need to swap the cartridge. We understand that this unit is geared towards photo printing and as the paper type is limited to 4×6 paper, printing text would be somewhat ridiculous, but for those that utilize black and white photos or want to print index cards or flash cards as example for notes or recipes, this could become a hassle.

Usage and Testing

As with other HP printers, the setup and installation is quick and painless. Install the drivers from the CD-ROM, insert the print cartridge, calibrate the printer and you’re done. Setting up in standalone mode is even easier, just insert the print cartridge, paper and calibrate.

The actual process of printing photos is straightforward whether the unit is connected to a PC or Mac or is in standalone mode. We printed a test run of 12 4×6-inch photos in “Best” quality print mode and the average print time was 2 minutes 10 seconds. The print quality at first glance is acceptable but more careful inspection shows the limitation of using a single 3 ink cartridge. All prints had good color but the edges of subjects within the photo were fuzzy and somewhat jagged.  The print quality may be fine to some at a quick glance and you may be happy hanging them on the living room wall, however, those users that desire the best print quality may want to look at other options.

On the positive side, HP does provide some options that you may want to consider.  The HP Compact Printer Carrying Case makes it even easier to take this printer with you on your travels. They also offer a DC car adapter which allows you to print photos from your car.

Conclusion

The HP Photosmart 145 definitely has it’s drawbacks including the monochrome LCD, lack of onboard photo editing tools, and a single 3-ink cartridge. But at an average price of $145 it has some appeal to users wanting an entry level compact and mobile photo printer. True to HP’s advertising, this printer is ultra-portable and easy to travel with.

Those wanting a little more polish and function, may want to consider the HP Photosmart 245, which at just $50 more solves some of the issues discovered with the Photosmart 145.