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HP PhotoSmart 8050 Review

HP PhotoSmart 8050
“If you're starting to get into digital photography and want to start doing prints at home, this is a great printer to start with.”
  • Good value; included media card reader
  • LCD screen; fast print times; good photo pictures
  • Included ink is not sufficient forcing you to buy more right away; paper tray can be confusing at first


Not every printer has to be “top of the line” to retain quality. HP makes a wide assortment of printers ranging from $50 printers to $1000+ behemoths that do everything imaginable. The HP Photosmart 8050 is a perfect blend of quality and usability at a reasonable price. It has some great features such as a photo preview LCD, media card slots, and the ability to function as both a standard and photo printer. The Photosmart 8050 does have some flaws though; especially in the way ink is managed. Keep reading to find out whether this low-priced printer is right for your needs.

Like a lot of the newer HP printers available, the PhotoSmart 8050 is actually a pretty stylish printer. It’s long and sleek, sports a sparkling silver color, and has a quality design. It features a power button, USB port, and media card reader on the left hand side that fit together nicely. The right side is encompassed by a small, but useful LCD screen, controls, and options for printing. It is a bit cluttered, while still manageable. Dual paper trays fold out in the middle of the printer so that your paper and prints are held separately. The top features a storage space containing a 4×6 paper loading mechanism and the back holds ports for USB and power.

Considering what this printer does, it is indeed very long. There is a lot of extra space that seems to serve no other purpose than for the design. People with limited workspace will probably find the Photosmart 8050 too big for their taste. If you’re a big digital camera buff though, you’re in luck. This printer creates great looking prints at a cost-effective price that won’t empty your pockets. However, to save more money, you might want to use a separate black cartridge and a separate color cartridge for ink. HP includes 2 cartridges when you purchase this printer: your basic three color Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow cartridge and another cartridge with photo-quality Cyan, Magenta, and black.

As a result of this, frequent printing of documents without photos will drain your cartridge fast and will leave you hanging with colors you may not need. Again, when your cartridges do go, be sure to replace them with an economical combination that will allow you to consume less ink. If you’re printing mostly documents, then this isn’t the printer for you. The Photosmart 8050 is a printer for those doing a mix of both photo and document printing. People looking for a heavy photo printer should check out HP’s Photosmart 475.

HP PhotoSmart 8050
Image Courtesy of HP

Setup and Use

Setting up HP printers is very easy. HP includes easy to use software for both Mac and PC. Just install it, plug the printer into both power and USB, and you’ll be set up in no time. Installing ink doesn’t take a lot of time either, and HP will print out some tests to make sure everything is installed and aligned correctly. A USB cable must be purchased seperately and can add an extra $30 or more to the overall purchase. This is typical of almost all printers out there unfortunately.

The Photosmart 8050 does a great job of printing documents quickly and efficiently. A 10-page document was done in less than 30 seconds, which was very impressive and included multiple pie charts. HP claims it will print at 30 pages per minute in black and 24 pages in color. Not too bad for a printer that retails with an MSRP of around $150. If you need something in a hurry, you’ll be able to fully rely on this printer. It feels solid, it prints solid, and the quality is what you’d expect from HP.

As for those looking to print photos, you’ll be very pleased with what HP has done with the Photosmart 8050. Using the built-in memory card reader, USB port for PictBridge, or your computer, you can preview a photo before printing it on the LCD screen. The quality is respectable, but a bigger display would have been nice to see here. An LCD is a nice touch, but for some people it may be considered too gimicky. For most people it won’t be an issue, but someone with bad vision may have trouble. HP is touting their RealLife technology as the next generation of photo correction, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. You can touch up photos and make them look better using only the printer, which can be nice if you don’t want to deal with a program like Photoshop.

Definition of HP’s Real Life Technologies:

“Special HP features that help you produce better photos, including in-camera or in-printer red-eye removal, panorama previewing, adaptive lighting technology, image enhancement features, and photo advice.”

Prints that come out of the Photosmart 8050 are generally sharp. Many people will not find flaws and if you print from your computer at the best resolution, you’ll be able to save yourself a trip to the local photo store. A big problem with this printer though, is that you can’t print maximum resolution photos from a memory card or a camera. Though, if you took a nice looking photo outdoors in a fair setting, then you shouldn’t worry. A quick print to give to a friend or loved one will come out nicely with no noticeable errors. Colors look vibrant, and the 8050 can print a full color 4×6 out in a little over a minute!

For the price of the HP Photosmart 8050, you’ll be hard pressed to find a printer on its level that can handle both documents and photos as well. This is a true hybrid-printer that does two things very well, and gets the job done efficiently. If you’re printing a lot of documents or essays, get a laser printer which can now be found for under $100. If you’re a photo enthusiast who is looking to print tons of pictures, go with something like the HP Photosmart 475 or a similar printer. The 8050 printer is designed mostly for family use and for printing out pictures of the occasional trip to the beach or hike in the woods.

A lot of other printers won’t stand up to the Photosmart 8050 when you factor in price. HP’s 8250 is about the same but is geared a little more towards photo printing rather than being a hybrid. It is also going to cost you a few more bucks. Lexmark has yet to come out with a budget printer that can match this one, and we don’t think Canon has either. The 8050 matches quality and price.


If you’re starting to get into digital photography and want to start doing prints at home, this is a great printer to start with. In spite of minor flaws, it is a sturdy product that will last for a while without the need to upgrade. You’ll also be able to print out documents at home with it at decent speeds. We really recommend swapping in an all-black cartridge in the second cartridge-slot though to get versatility out of this printer. With an MSRP of about $150, you won’t find a better combination of value, quality, and style on the market. Those of you considering buying a new printer should highly consider the HP Photosmart 8050.


  • Great price for the included features
  • Wonderful balance of photo printing and document printing
  • Has a Media card reader, LCD screen, and USB port for printing without a computer
  • Prints really fast


  • Included ink not efficient
  • Paper trays a bit confusing

Editors' Recommendations