HP's second-generation 7000-series Photosmart flagship printer
HP Photosmart 7960 ink-jet printer
Typical selling price (UK, pounds Sterling): £230
Manufacturer's guide price: £249
The HP Photosmart 7960 is the flagship of HP's second-generation 4800dpi stand-alone 7000-series A4 ink-jet photo printer range. Essentially it's a direct, but much modified, development of HP's Photosmart 7550. Both models are designed with photo and office printing in mind and to be used for photo printing with or without host PCs - printing from memory cards or compatible HP Photosmart cameras directly. The 7960 is the first printer to support xD memory cards without the need for an adapter.
The 7550 was the first Photosmart printer to accommodate three ink cartridges at once so you didn't need to swap text black and photo colour cartridges when switching between plain paper and photo printing jobs. While the Photosmart 7960 also has space for three ink cartridges, the choice has increased to four cartridges with the introduction of the No.59 grey scale ink cartridge.
Fourth ink cartridge introduced for mono printing
This cartridge was developed to print high quality black and white photos, something difficult to achieve using colour inks alone. The third cartridge slot can be fitted with either the grey No.59 cartridge or the No.56 pigment black ink cartridge, which is specifically for plain paper printing. The new No.59 cartridge is only currently compatible with the new 7960, 7760 and 7660 printer models.
Introducing Photoret Pro
Fundamentally, the 7960 runs HP's Photoret IV ink layering system which was introduced with the first Photsmart 7000-series printers in 2002. To support the No.59 monochrome printing capability, HP has extended its Photoret system and now refers to it as Photoret Pro. When printing in colour with the No.59 cartridge fitted, the 7960 can draw upon no less than 8 different inks - cyan, magenta, yellow, light (photo) cyan, light (photo) magenta, plus the three monochrome shades supplied from the No.59 cartridge.
In fact 9 different inks are contained in the three cartridges, but the No.58 cartridge photo black is not used while the No.59 cartridge is fitted. While the No.59 cartridge was developed for monochrome printing, HP says it does contribute to improved colour photo printing, helping to print cleaner grey tones and textures that rely on greys, like metal surfaces, for example.
Borderless A4 printing at last
With the arrival of the 7960, HP at last catches up with Canon and Epson with the inclusion of borderless A4 printing capability for the first time.