|GadgetScope.com > Computer Hardware > HP OfficeJet d145|
|Reviewed 5-15-2003 by John Shirrell - Produced by HP - List price: $499.99|
The all-in-one machine market is dominated by small gimmick machines that include scanning, copying, printing, and faxing that are less capable than each unit sold separately. The OfficeJet d145 by HP is not a complete exception to this rule, but it comes close to breaking it. The multitude of features on this machine set it apart from all the competing all-in-one machines, and even standalone hardware, like scanners and printers.
The features of each component of the printer are exceptional, and everything deserves mention. The first place to look when comparing all-in-one machines is, of course, the printer. Print speed, quality, and cost are all the most significant factors in determining an all-in-one's worth. As usual, HP artificially inflates the pages-per-minute rating on the packaging of the d145, claiming that it can print at speeds even laser printers dream of. In my testing, using draft mode, there was a 30 second delay for the printer to warm up and after that, testing with HP's website, it got about 6ppm color, 8ppm black, about 10ppm slower than HP's figures. A test photo print on letter-size photo paper took 6 minutes. In a few tests the printer accidentally fed two sheets together but this usually was not a problem. When using the included duplex printing accessory, print speed was severely reduced because the printer held the first side a few seconds to let the ink dry before reversing the paper. The hold time can be adjusted manually, but if left too short the ink can smear.
Print quality in draft mode was decent. Text and graphics were crisp and sharp, but very light. In normal mode, text is as sharp as a laser printer, with no streaking or fuzz. Photo prints on glossy photo paper were slightly grainy and the color was too light, but otherwise acceptable. It also does not support borderless photo printing. The printer does have a high resolution photo printing mode but the driver refuses to use that setting unless you tell it you are using HP photo paper. If you tell it you are using third-party photo paper it will not allow you to print at the higher resolution. The ink is neither light-fast nor water-fast, in fact a tiny droplet of water will completely ruin a print made by the d145. Because the d145 does not support light cyan and light magenta ink like HP's photo printers skin tones were drab and very grainy.
Even though the printing mechanism in the D series was only moderately fast and lacked photo quality, it is a completely new system from HP that is very efficient. The black cartridge in particular can yield as many as 800 prints (after the d145's release, HP started putting more ink in the black cartridge). Unlike typical HP inks, the d145's black and tri-color ink cartridges do not have print heads on them. Instead the print heads are separate modules that cost about $34 each and can only be replaced through HP. Although the thought of having to order print heads from the manufacturer may be unpleasant, it is definitely better than having the print heads permanently integrated into the printer, as is the case with Epson printers. Instead of requiring service, a bad print head can be replaced as easily as an ink cartridge. As a result, this means that running out of ink does not mean you are throwing away a good print head, and a clogged print head does not mean you are throwing away ink. These cartridges do come with chips on them to deter unauthorized refilling and recycling of HP cartridges. If you want to use a refilled or recycled ink cartridge you have to go through a tedious process which requires a special keystroke to get the printer to use them. At the time of this writing there were no third-party cartridges available for the d145.
The scanner on the d145 is impressive. It features a legal-size flatbed and a handy sheet feeder. The sheet feeder can duplex documents just like the printer for copying and faxing, but HP's scanning software does not support two-sided scanning. The motor that drives the scanner bulb is too noisy; typically scanners should be almost silent but the d145 doesn't even come close. The scanner takes about 10 seconds to warm up and about 10 seconds to scan a preview. The d145 does not support a transparency adapter, so once again this machine is not recommended for people who are into photography.
The fax support has the most features of all. HP put a sophisticated auto-answer system into the fax system so it can pick up faxes even if a person or answering machine answers the call. It also supports distinctive rings. The d145 supports 33.6kbps fax and can send color faxes. Oddly enough you cannot send a color fax to a group of recipients, only black & white. The d145 supports 130 speed-dial entries, 10 of them in one-touch buttons.
The d145 can make copies without a PC, and it has plenty of special features. You can reduce/enlarge, change the number of copies, and convert legal to letter-size paper. Unfortunately it cuts off wide margins on copies so you must reduce the copy size if you don't want to lose anything in the margins. Copy speed is about the same as print speed and you can choose between draft, normal, and best quality at the machine.
There are flash media readers for CompactFlash, Smartmedia, and Memory Stick cards. Absent are SecureDigital and xD slots. You can print photos from the cards or you can transfer JPEG files to your PC; however the printer will not allow you to manage files on the card or use the slots as regular media card readers, which might allow you to store MP3 files, delete old images, or transfer movies recorded with a camera's movie features. I was told by HP that there was no plan for them to fix this in the future.
The printer connects with a USB cable, which as usual is not included. I opted to get a 15-foot USB cable so the printer could be placed farther away, this cost about $6 online. The driver software is very basic and disorganized. You have to use a separate utility to scan text, which is a stripped-down version of ReadIris OCR software. The "HP Director" software is slow and has an obvious glitch; where it should say "Scan picture" and "Scan document," it says "Scan pictur" and "Scan documen." When trying to transfer image files from the flash card slots, I often got an application crash. The software clearly wasn't adequately tested before release, and is very disappointing compared with the software included with other HP products. Also the software as a whole lacks polish; most of the applications look like they were designed for Windows 3.1.
HP previously only had a toll phone number, they have since wisely changed it to a toll-free number. However the wait times I experienced during evaluation were typically between 10 and 30 minutes, and the typical call was not resolved in less than 10 minutes. HP charges a fee for phone support when out of warranty. I also observed that if you need HP's updated driver (which contains fixes to the issues I mentioned earlier), you may purchase it for $10 but you cannot download it over the internet.
Overall I would say that the d145 has a lot of problems that keep me from being completely satisfied with it as a business machine, but it has more features and a sturdier design than most of the other all-in-ones in the market. I can't say enough that this machine is not recommended for photo people (HP's PSC 2210 is somewhat valuable to photo users but it still lacks borderless 5x7 or letter-size printing or a transparency scanning adapter). As a business machine, this is a good buy for the home office or a company with up to 15 users. As options, a parallel adapter, network card, or 250-sheet paper tray can be added; all are very expensive and only available from HP and select distributors.