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6/10/2012
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HP Officejet 150: Expensive Shoebox-Size Scanning And Printing

Hewlett-Packard's new inkjet printer and sheetfed scanner combo is smaller than a shoebox, making it a good choice for small offices or people on the go.

The HP Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One is for people who either have very little square footage for a printer, or don't know where they're going to need to do their printing and scanning. Students, travelers, and people living in glove-compartment apartments will appreciate it. Those on the go or in places with spotty power will be especially fond of the included lithium battery, which HP alleges will provide power enough for up to 500 pages of printing when fully charged.

The downside is the price: $399 list, which is more than some full-size office all-in-ones with flatbed scanning.

The Officejet 150 has a USB port but doesn't have to be connected to a PC to print. It can print—although not scan—wirelessly, over Bluetooth. Unfortunately, it doesn't have Wi-Fi capability.

The Officejet 150's touch panel makes a lot of common actions possible without needing to touch the computer. You can scan a document by feeding it into the device, touching "Scan" on the panel, then selecting a destination. Scans sent to the PC show up automatically in the My Pictures folder, and you can also send scans to a memory card, attached USB device, or Bluetooth target. Likewise, you can print images directly from a card or USB drive using the front panel.

The faster the print speed, the lower the quality, of course--unless you're doing everyday text. Printing an all-text black-and-white document page took a mere eight seconds, which I shaved to five seconds in high-speed draft mode, and the differences in quality was minimal. Graphics, on the other hand, requires standard-quality mode to look good. Images and charts are visibly wobblier in draft mode. Printing a two-page document with a mix of graphics and text took a minute and five seconds in standard-quality mode.

The printer also can produce borderless photos up 4 x 6 inches. If you're printing photos bigger than that, you'll want a printer with bigger ink tanks anyway, because the 150 uses the relatively tiny HP 95/98 series cartridges.

Because the scanner is a page-at-a-time sheetfed model and not a flatbed, there are some limits as to what can be done. Scanning business cards, for instance, was a little tricky--you have to feed cards long-edge first, dead center in the tray, and even so the scanner sometimes complains the document isn't properly loaded. Also be warned that the printer doesn't scan or print straight through, so items scanned from cardstock or printed on label sheets might get bent or splayed.

The printer comes with the minimally-useful HP Document Manager software, which is little more than a quick way to get access on the PC side to the printer's scanning functions or a stripped-down edition of the I.R.I.S. OCR package. The latter has very little in the way of interactivity, which makes it useless for all but the most basic, plain-vanilla recognition jobs. This is about par for the course for software bundled with printers, though.

Name: HP Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One

This portable printer and sheetfed scanner won't eclipse any of its full-size counterparts, despite being priced as much as any of them.

Price: $399

Pro:

  • Compact design.
  • Lithium battery powers the printer when no outlets are available.
Con:
  • Hefty price.
  • Document-management software is unimpressive.
  • Scanning business cards is a little awkward.

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