HP Photosmart 8230

Aiming at the world's fastest photo printer title, the HP Photosmart 8230 can pump out a 4 x 6 inch colour print in as little as 14 seconds.

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The HP Photosmart 8230, a replacement for the Photosmart 8450, retains the 4,800 x 1,200dpi resolution, the long-life Vivera inks, and the relatively speedy printing of its predecessor but replaces the old print engine with a radically redesigned one. Rather than using the old tricolou ink-cartridge systems with their built-in printheads, HP has switched to an innovative reservoir system fed from six separate ink tanks.

Although it functions serviceably as a speedy text printer (especially with the optional duplexing attachment), the HP Photosmart 8230's real strength is as a personal photo lab. On the downside, the relatively large 5pl ink drops (some competing models such as the Canon PIXMA iP5000 squeeze out 1pl drops) can produce a visibly grainy texture that some users might find objectionable. And depending on the settings you use, you'll achieve printing speeds quite a bit slower than advertised.

At 447 x 385 x 160mm and almost 8.5kg, the HP Photosmart 8230 will dominate any desktop or printer stand where it resides. You'll need to keep about 15cm in front of the printer clear for the output tray, a 20-sheet 4 x 6 photo paper tray, and a main tray that holds up to 100 sheets of 3.5 x 5- to 8.5 x 14-inch stock. The back of the printer can snuggle up close to a wall or a partition, if you like; during testing, we didn't experience any paper jams that would have required opening the back cover.

Setup is speedy, involving little more than connecting the power cord, linking the printer to your computer through a USB 2.0 cable, and snapping in the five compact colour ink cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta) and a larger-capacity black ink tank. Installing the HP Image Zone software and drivers takes another 10 minutes or so.

You can carry out an impressive array of functions from the printer itself. Flip up the LCD and insert a memory card into one of the slots on the front or connect a camera through the PictBridge port in the lower-right corner of the front panel, and the first shot appears on the screen. The HP Image Zone Transfer software will also pop up on your computer display and offer to copy the photos. You can scroll among all the images using left/right arrow keys and press a Select button to mark photos for printing. With zoom in/out buttons, you can enlarge a portion of the photo to as much as 5x, and a separate four-way cursor control pad with embedded Ok key moves the zoom box within the image.

Once you've marked your photos, pressing a Layout key cycles through arrangement choices of one to nine images per page. There's also a Rotate button to change the orientation of your shot, Print and Cancel Print buttons to start and stop the printing process, a Photo Tray key to toggle back and forth between the photo paper and main trays, and an Instant Share button that whisks your shots off via email.

Tapping the HP Photosmart 8230's Menu button reveals even more options. Print Options include proof sheets, video action prints, stickers, passport photos, and panoramas. Edit tools let you add frames or special effects such as sepia tones, as well as adjust brightness with a slider control. Other menu options let you view slide shows, print test pages, perform printer maintenance, set printer and Bluetooth preferences, or access a simple built-in help system for most printer functions. When working from a computer, the driver offers only a basic set of tools (although these include colour correction sliders), relying instead on the Image Zone software for more advanced editing and correction.

In some ways, using the HP Photosmart 8230 in standalone mode is more convenient than printing with it from a Windows or Macintosh computer. For example, you can print multipage bar-coded proof sheets on plain paper, mark selected images and layout choices with a pen, then feed it back into the printer, which scans the sheet and cranks out the requested prints. The same built-in scanner reads paper type and size from bar codes on the back surface of HP Advanced Photo Paper; because this paper has a porous coating rather than a glossy swellable polymer, it can offer faster drying times and improved water and smudge resistance. However, many people will object to the matte look of the new paper, and stick with the glossy options. In conjunction with the reformulated Vivera inks (CMYK, light cyan, and light magenta) when framed under glass, the prints can last as long as 40 to 50 years, according to Wilhelm Imaging Research.

Standalone printing is also the only way to access the printer's panorama feature, which allows creating superlong landscape pictures measuring as large as 8.5 x 24 inches. In addition to printing from a computer, the HP Photosmart 8230 supports PictBridge-compatible digital cameras or your choice of CompactFlash I/II, SD/MMC, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, and xD-Picture cards. With the optional HP bt300 Bluetooth wireless printer adapter, you can print from camera-phones, PDAs, and other Bluetooth-enabled gadgets. A big 2.5-inch LCD along with built-in preview and editing tools let you crop, zoom, brighten inky shadows, banish demon red-eyes, or print frames from video clips.

The HP Photosmart 8230 uses a new, innovative ink-feeding system that routes ink from the supply tanks to a reservoir, much like the continuous-feed tanks found on high-end, large-format inkjet printers (and sometimes retrofitted to consumer models with third-party kits). The system, unlike conventional drop-on-demand technology, allows the printer to recycle excess ink, including the ink wasted during head cleaning and alignment. It also reduces delays caused by pumping ink into the printhead between jobs.

As a result, the system allows the Photosmart 8230 to accurately gauge whether there is enough ink to complete the current print job, so it can pause for a refill between sheets rather than wasting paper or ink printing a partial page. One claimed advantage of this system is increased page yield from a given ink tank over previous and competing models.

The factory-installed printhead has 650 nozzles per colour -- 3,900 in all -- that are automatically calibrated during initial setup. Because the ink tanks and the printhead are separate components, HP claims that calibration won't be needed again for the life of the printer. More nozzles generally translates to faster print speeds, and the 8250 is certainly sprier than its predecessors. But as with the ink costs, these numbers represent the default driver settings for a photo, which produce mediocre prints.

CNET Labs inkjet printer perfomance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Photo speed
Text speed
HP Photosmart 8230

Although our test prints were generally very good, they were marred by a grainy appearance that was clearly visible even without magnification. The effect, which we attributed to the relatively large ink droplets used by the Photosmart 8230, was most noticeable in broad areas of even colour, such as sky. In addition, we saw some stairstepping in diagonal lines, particularly within text. However, the colours were good, with realistic flesh tones and excellent saturation but a slight blue cast on some prints. There was lots of detail in highlights and shadows, and we saw little banding.

HP's support for the Photosmart 8230 includes a one-year limited hardware warranty and one year of technical phone support. Questions can be answered at HP's Web site, which includes an online live chat with a technician, e-mail support, a searchable knowledge base, software and driver downloads, and tips for getting the most out of your printer.

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Greg Mac


Greg Mac posted a review   

The Good:I have hada HP Photosmart 8320 for years and havent had any trouble till now

The Bad:Nil

I hada virus and now hve to reload programs onto my computer and cant find a free down load for my HP Photosmart 8230 can anyone assist me

Greg Mac


Angry posted a comment   

without a shadow of a doubt the most annoying piece of crap I've ever bought. The photo quality is fine, providing you don't mind waiting an hour while it decides that the paper ports are full, the ink cartridges are full, the printing crashes mid-print for no reason, etc, etc.


Matt posted a comment   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Paper does not feed. I have yet to have it print more than one photo in about 100 attempts. Also, gives you annoying warnings about the ink expiration date.

Waste of $200. Don't buy it.


ari posted a review   

where is to download driver hp photosmart 8230


Charles posted a review   

The Good:excellent printing

The Bad:Cartridge replacement costly

Excellent printing


Yogesh posted a review   

The Good:Good Photo Printing

The Bad:Poor Tech support. Every time you are on Chat line they have to ask you the same question over and over again. Waste of time.

Cannot print CD labels. Gives error message "Paper size too small". Same size paper can be printed. The sensors in this printer need work


badhabits posted a review   

The Good:quick and reliable

The Bad:colours can be bit grainy

Well it's not a bad printers i have to say. In general i think we all have problems with colours as every printers tends to think in it's own little way. So far so good

Franc Luiten

Franc Luiten posted a review   



rrroonn posted a review   

The Good:I could afford to waste the money I spent on this printer.

Print quality is quite good when you can get the planets to align.

The Bad:Software is absolute shite and will ruin your experience of this printer unless you print direct and bypass the computer.

Over the last few decades we have become so accustomed to things that are of such a poor standard and the HP 8230 is a excellent example of this. All the money has been spent on styling and marketing and diverted from design, manufacturing and software development.

Firstly, my printer came out of the box with the case badly assembled with the odd bit of plastic hanging foul – I guess I can put up with that – heck, (I has another word in mind) I put up with far worse from my mobile phone! Install the software and it fails with a major error and had to back out and reboot. Basically, I diagnosed this as a memory stick that wasn’t plugged in – go figure! Plugged in the memory stick and eventually installed the software.

As I use Photoshop for all my photographic editing and printing, I opened CS2 and tried printing only to absolute garbage out of the printer (using the supplied 4x6s). I spent many hours and associated ink and paper working out that:

1. Color management is just plain broken in the software driver suite – its almost as if the people who wrote the software do not even understand how it is meant to work.
2. Borderless printing is problematic – for example:
a. Much of the edges of the print a cut off (not even evenly!) and none of the normal driver settings change this one bit – finally found the ‘overspray’ option on the Advanced tab that improved this.
b. Try to set a custom borderless print size and the software will accept this but will silently revert to Letter size when you actually try to print.
3. Change settings in the driver and all sorts of other changes happen behind your back – watch out.
4. Many other frustrations

The big killer is that color management has been implemented by the play-school team.

I have not tried out the novelty of direct printing using memory cards or cameras and it may well be that this works well (someone else will have to try that). I have tried the supplied imaging software and it allows adequate printing to be completed, though its image editing and management capabilities are pretty woeful.

My advice to anyone contemplating this printer for use with a professional image editing application is to steer well clear – see Epson and Canon. Maybe HP will release a driver update that will fix many of the problems but check for a driver date of 2007+ before considering this printer for use on a Windows system.


"Faultless... and I own 2"

Xtr3 posted a review   

The Good:Speed... Amazing
Reliablilty... Outstanding
Features... Has bucketloads
Style / Looks... How I like a printer, Nice sharp looks and clean, not overdone

The Bad:No ethernet, what a shame
Startup time, oh boy.... i never turn these things off, it takes to long for them to start up

Seriously, These printers are one of the best ive owned for a while
The only thing that I would like to see in a revision of this printer is a touchscreen... i hate buttons and no dynamic input
but overall i LOVE this printer to death

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User Reviews / Comments  HP Photosmart 8230

  • Greg Mac

    Greg Mac


    "I hada virus and now hve to reload programs onto my computer and cant find a free down load for my HP Photosmart 8230 can anyone assist me

    Greg Mac

  • Angry


    "without a shadow of a doubt the most annoying piece of crap I've ever bought. The photo quality is fine, providing you don't mind waiting an hour while it decides that the paper ports are full, the..."

  • Matt


    "Waste of $200. Don't buy it."

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