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HP Photosmart 364 Ink Cartridges

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12 Reviews
  • Reliability
  • easy to fit
  • over priced
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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    12 Reviews
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    • More +
      11.02.2015 23:45
      Very helpful


      • "four seperate colours instead of two"
      • "easy to fit"
      • "plenty of ink inside"
      • "gives good results"


      • "over priced"
      • "over priced"
      • "over priced"

      Print good quality pictures and give moonpig a run for its money...

      Somewhere, where ever it is, most people should have met a printer of some kind, be that at work, school or in the library, or may be home too, and finding the right printer is a bit hit and miss in some cases. But it's not the printer that is the total cost of running a printer, the main cost can be the ink cartridges if you print a lot of things as some cartridge are sold at a third of the money you paid for the printer itself.
      And these genuine cartridges are sold at the higher price, even though, for me, they give the same finish as the cheaper ones that aren't from HP.

      You get four cartridge in this pack, a black, yellow, blue and pink, although the posh name for them is black, yellow, cyan and magenta, and they are compatible with many HP printers, such as the the photosmart range, 550, 5511 and more.

      Once they are fitted into the printer, which depends on the printer itself, you're ready to start inking. There's no leaking onto the paper that is printing, which is what you'd expect from a brand like HP. But I found that the lower priced ones do just as well when it comes to ink blobs on the paper, both steering clear of smudges.
      With these cartridges I can get a good 2 – 4 weeks of 'hard' printing, being a mix of images and text, which would be great except I hate having to pay £40 every month in order to do the printing I need to do.

      The cost of this set of ink cartridges is about £40, which a little too much for what you get, especially when you consider you can get the same finish with the cartridge that sell for a third of the price. They will print off page after page without too much worry and, as long as you've fitted them properly, taking the little tab off the cartridge, then you should have no trouble with these one. Although, as I keep saying, I get the same effect from the lower priced one, which I turned to after realising that my ink overheads were higher than teenager at a party.
      My advice. Skip these originals and go for the lower priced one first. You may be surprised. But, even if the lower priced ones don't work you've wasted less than £10.
      NOTE: The reason for the drop of 2 stars is down to the price of them, nothing else.


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    • More +
      18.09.2013 15:07
      Very helpful


      • Reliability


      Thanks for Reading :)

      When it comes to buying ink cartridges for printers it can be a daunting job, in the past I have had to pay a whopping £20 plus for some ink for my older printers. Therefore it was a nice relief to find that the HP 364 ink Cartridges are priced a lot cheaper and are therefore more affordable, especially if you go through ink like water which is what I tend to do due to sometimes working from home.


      I usually purchase HP 364 ink cartridges from my local Tesco supermarket as I usually end up buying them as soon as the ink runs out, so most of the time I'm just rushing to buy some, instead of searching online for cheaper prices or offers.

      Tesco Prices are as follows:

      *HP 364 Photosmart printer Ink Cartridge with Vivera Ink Blister - Black: £7.00

      *HP 364 Photosmart (Black) Photo Ink Cartridge (Yield 130 Pages) with Vivera Ink: £14.00

      *HP No.364 Photosmart Vivera Ink Cartridge - Magenta: £24.59

      *6 Compatible Ink Cartridges for HP Photosmart 3210A - Cyan / Light Cyan / Yellow / Magenta / Light Magenta / Black (Capacity: 47 ml) - £9.30

      I have seen Amazon sell black and coloured ink cartridges in the past for prices slightly cheaper, so it is worth keeping an eye out for prices and offers available online.


      The ink cartridges are about a palm in length size and are rectangular shaped with a sticker tag at the end to prevent ink leaking. They come packaged in a typical HP designed ink cartridge cardboard box and look very plain and simple which is what you would expect from an ink cartridge really!


      These ink cartridges are very simple to install and literally takes minutes to do. Even a not so technical person like myself found it quick and easy, which is ideal when you are in a rush to print out invoices or sale packaging slips and have a tight deadline to keep.

      All you need to do is peal the plastic tag bit that covers the end of the cartridge and then place it into the cartridge slot inside the printer. It is all very straight forward and I have never experienced any issues installing the ink cartridges, just open the printer cage, remove old ink cartridge and insert new one, close printer cover and follow the printer alignment stage. It is easy to tell when it is securely fitted into place as you should be able to hear a click sound when the ink cartridge is inserted. If you do experience any trouble, there is a small instruction manual that comes inside the packaging, as well as online technical support website for HP printers.


      The colour prints are of very high quality, they colours are vivid and vibrant and display the images and fonts to great standards. I have occasionally printed out some colour pictures on plain paper and found that even picture images of scenery are displayed with great colour detail. All the colours are shown to the extent to which they should, and none have mixed or jumbled up, which is something I have experienced in the past with other ink cartridges with pinks coming out as red! I was also very happy to find that the colours are just as clear and animated during later page printouts, as there is nothing worse than printing out a 20 paged document and find the colour quality on the last page not to the same standard as the first page.

      Photographic printouts are even better than I expected, I was able to print out photos of my nephew and family members without any of the ink colour smearing, the colours were eye catching and made the photos really come alive. The colours were overall very vibrant, clear and sharp and I have no bad words to say about the photo coloured prints at all. The standard of photos were that good that I was more than happy to send printouts of my newborn nephew to my family abroad, instead of getting copies done from professional photo stores.

      I printout black and white documents a lot more than I do colour documents, I print out many letters, spreadsheets, invoices, sale slips, detailed reports etc all of which are printed out clearly thanks to the quality of black ink. It allows the black text to jump of the page and does not look at all faded, instead displays an even black ink coverage throughout the page and documents. Both the black ink and coloured ink do not take long to dry, so I never had any issues of it smudging or ink dripping over the page.

      HP describes the ink lasting from 200-300 page of text and 100 photo prints. I personally found that the estimation to be fairly correct, and despite printing many black and white documents on a daily basis the ink lasts a lot longer than I originally imagined. The photo prints do require a lot of ink so as expected it didn't last as long as the black and white text ink. I am overall happy with how long each ink cartridge lasts, in the past I would go through ink cartridges every other week, but now these cartridges can last me a good few months.


      Overall I am very happy with these ink cartridges, as they are long lasting, relatively cheap and display high quality printouts. I would therefore rate this product a great 5/5.


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    • More +
      07.09.2010 10:17
      Very helpful


      • Reliability


      You get what you pay for with HP printer cartridges - they are a quality product

      I have been a pretty loyal HP printer user for the past ten years or so. Apart from an unsuccessful flirtation with an Epson printer about five years ago, HP has been the brand for me.

      One thing I learned in that time is that whilst printer ink cartridges are expensive no matter which brand of printer you use, if you buy a remanufactured or non branded cartridge it tends to be a false economy. I have experienced cartridges which wouldn't align properly, cartridges which were empty (yes, really!) and worst of all, cartridges which leaked. I have also attempted to refill cartridges myself - which was a messy and unmitigated disaster.

      When Ciao requested volunteers to test HP 364 cartridges I was keen to give it a go as I have such extensive experience with the brand and their printers. I was delighted to be chosen and I have been using the HP 364 cartridges and testing the results you get with them.

      ~~The Cartridges~~

      The 364 range comprises 5 cartridges - one each photo black, blue, cyan and magenta and one black cartridge which is larger than the other four cartridges.

      My previous HP printers had only needed two cartridges - one for black ink and one for colour and whilst they did print photographs adequately, I always preferred to get my photos printed at a photo shop because the printing process was quite slow and the pictures came out of the printer feeling tacky, meaning you had to leave them to dry off for fear of smudging.

      The cartridges have plastic "plugs" covering the hole which dispenses ink in the printer and these are quite fiddly to remove - they have to be snapped off before one inserts the cartridge in the printer. This is a minor criticism but those who are less dexterous might find this a bit of a problem as the plugs need a bit of a yank to remove.

      The cartridges have to be inserted into the printer in a specific order with the 4 smaller cartridges going with photo black, magenta, cyan and yellow running from left to right and the black cartridge positioned to the extreme right.

      I found inserting the cartridges an easy enough experience and was pleased to see no mess either - which I have to say I expected from genuine HP ink cartridges.

      ~~The Experience~~

      During the test period Ciao asked us to extensively test the cartridges using several different types of HP paper which they sent to us. I used my own paper too, to guage how well the ink worked on non-HP paper. I have since been using the printer and the cartridges for all my home printing.

      ~~Printing Documents~~

      The black ink is very good I find - the cartridge on a previous HP printer would occasionally fade to a "dark grey" which I really didn't like, but the 364 blank ink cartridge is excellent - providing clear and dark print all over.

      I do think the ink isn't quite so good at printing colour documents - the clarity isn't as good on colour logos for instance.

      I have used the printer to print off PDF files containing removal quotations for my house move and found the quality varied wildly - those which were simple black and white affairs with just a small colour logo at the top were of good quality, but another quote which was printed from a PDF file was quite grainy due to the file being written on watermarked paper.

      I suspect that this is due to the photo black ink being used on documents such as these, whereas the regular black ink is sharp and dark. The colours don't seem so sharp printed directly onto plain paper - and I have printed documents on the paper Ciao sent to me as well as the cheap printer paper I have at home currently and noticed no real difference in quality with colour on documents.

      Nothing I printed smudged at all, and it was excellent to be able to take a document straight from the printer without fear of smudging it due to the ink being dry almost instantaneously.

      ~~Printing Photographs~~

      If I sounded slightly negative about the colour printing on paper then I have to say that the results when printing photographs more than make up for any prior disappointment.

      I had occasionally printed photographs using previous HP printers, and I had found the experience to be slow and not always reliable, leading to me outsourcing the job to photo shops instead.

      Having had 3 weeks to copiously test the ink I found myself using the printer more and more to print off photographs and the results were fantastic.

      In the past I would find a photo printed using HP's old ink cartridges would be wet and tacky coming out of the printer - and sometimes could smear if not handled carefully when removing it from the printer.
      This isn't the case using the 364 cartridges at all however - the prints come out almost dry to the touch and the print quality is absolutely outstanding with sharp colours but the contrast between shades clearly defined.

      Once again I tested printing photographs on different types of paper - unsurprisingly if you print a photo directly onto paper the quality is reasonable, but nothing great.

      Ciao sent a sample pack of photo paper with the printer, and I was so impressed with the print quality using the HP Advanced Photo Paper that I went out and bought some to continue printing photos on. Regular HP Premium Photo Paper was included too, and I found you could tell that the HP ink is made for HP paper when printing photographs - the results were outstanding.

      I decided to do a comparison to see how the ink would fare using a different brand of photo paper, as I had some Kodak paper in the house.
      To be honest, I hadn't been expecting much of a difference between the prints, but was astonished at how much darker the print was on the Kodak paper - this was particularly evident on skin tones in people's faces with the tone not appearing as natural as on the pictures printed using the HP Advanced Photo Paper.

      I would, as a result, highly recommend you use HP photo paper with HP ink - they are quite clearly made for one another and you will get optimum results from your ink that way.


      I have found this ink to be reasonably long lasting - I have printed a lot of documents so as expected, the black ink is the one which has run down the fastest. Of the colour cartridges, the cyan seems to be the thirstiest, but I have been impressed at just how far the ink has gone, especially considering how many photos I have printed off - and some of these have been A4 size.

      During the test period I printed about 100 pages of documents and 25 photographs (of varying sizes) and still had plenty of ink left in the first set of cartridges HP sent to me - this surprised me as I had fully expected to need to break open the second set they sent but the ink warning light only came on for a couple of inks and my experience with HP printers has taught me that the warning will remain for some time before the cartridge is actually empty. The cartridges themselves have a decent shelf life - all the cartridges I received had a use by date of the first quarter of 2012 but obviously you should check use by dates when you buy.

      HP also recommend you recycle the cartridges if at all possible, with recyclying information available at www.hp.com/recycle.

      ~~Final Thoughts~~

      I have been very impressed with the HP 364 print cartridge range - I have experienced no ink leaks, no cartridge alignement problems and most importantly, reliable prints every time using them.

      I do think the colour inks on paper could be a little sharper, but realistically colour prints on paper do invariably lack sharpness and detail - certainly the results are probably a little better than those I achieved using my previous HP printers - but don't expect miracles.

      However the black ink on documents is excellent - the shade is a lovely jet black which prints clearly and makes for a very impressive looking document.

      Where this ink really shines however is in photograph printing. The results are outstanding - far exceeding any preconceived expectations I had about the ink and what it could achieve. I do think, however, that you need to use HP photo paper to achieve the very best these inks are capable of - certainly I was staggered at how much better photo prints were using HP paper compared to non-HP photo paper and can only conclude that from the results these inks are made for the paper.

      I appreciate buying genuine ink cartridges can be an expensive affair but I have long learned that cheap cartridges will not yield the sharp and reliable results you get with genuine HP cartridges and the HP 364 range hasn't changed my mind one iota - I cannot believe any remanufactured cartridge could yield results even half as good as the genuine article - even on HP paper and as a result I am completely "HP" with HP cartridges!


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      • More +
        22.08.2010 22:31
        Very helpful



        Testing printer cartridges

        My experience of HP printers and print cartridges has always been a positive one and I've generally always had HP printers at home. They're not the cheapest, and they're not always the smartest looking either, but they tend to be reliable, easy to use and pretty efficient and I've yet to be swept away from the brand.

        The HP364 print cartridges are intended for the C309G all-in-one printer. The C309G printer takes five different cartridges in total; one in black, one in cyan, one in magenta,one in yellow and then a further one in black, called Photosmart. They're all available in two sizes; the standard size (HP 364) and the larger size (HP 364XL). Prices vary between the sizes and colours, with the standard colour cartridges around £8, the standard black ones around £9, the extra large coloured ones around £14 and the extra large black ones at around £22. The Photosmart ones are around £8 for the standard size and £14 for the XL size. Across the range, the larger cartridges are better value and you get more sheets per cartridge, but I've only been using the standard sized cartridges.

        The cartridges are packed reasonably minimally in a cardboard box, which is really only intended to offer moderate protection and help retailers easily display the cartridges. Unlike other disposable products, like razors, for example, the manufacturer has refrained from using plastic outer packaging, which always strikes me as wasteful and unnecessary. The cartridges themselves are vacuum -sealed with a thin plastic wrap, which holds the instruction leaflet and warranty neatly alongside the cartridge. It's all reasonably minimal, quite refreshingly so in actual fact, though I would abandon the leaflet and just direct users to a PDF file on the HP web site, to be honest, although I guess there wouldn't be much room for the fitting instructions then.

        The cartridges are very easy to fit though, in line with other HP cartridges. So that you know which order they should be slotted into the printer, they each carry a unique symbol (triangle, circle etc) as well as a flash of the colour, both of which you can line up on the printer head. Before you slot the cartridge into place, you have to break off a little plastic lever, which covers the round slot into which the printer head will connect, thus facilitating the use of the ink. I thought this was slightly strange because the lever is quite substantial and you do wonder whether you're supposed to break it off. Other cartridges have always used a paper thin sheet of clear plastic, which you pull out, but I have known this leave a little colourful dusting on your hands or clothes and this lever system seems much cleaner and quicker. Once snapped off, you then simply slot the cartridge into the appropriate space on the printer head, pop into place, and you're good to go. The process is pretty easy and requires less exertion than those old plastic strips, which would probably be quite good for older people who might otherwise struggle.

        The quality of printing when using these cartridges is perfectly satisfactory. The colours are reasonably crisp and bright, the black is sharp and solid and given the print time, the results are generally pretty good. I tend to use quite a lot of colour in documents, not through images, but through tracking changes and adding comments in Microsoft Word. This tends to rely on red and blue quite heavily and the translation of the colour on screen to paper isn't fantastic in all cases. The blue is fine; the print is able to match varying shades or tones of blue (according to multiple comment writers). The red is not so good. I tend to use bright red to alert certain readers to individual passages of text and I've not been enthused with the red that has eventually appeared on the printed sheet. Even when the cartridges are brand new, the colour is more rose pink as far as I can tell, which is a little off putting. The ink dries very quickly, although (as with most home printers) you can smudge it for a few seconds after it comes out of the machine.

        The manufacturer claims that the standard black cartridge has a print capacity of 250 sheets. I've found that this will stretch to 300 sheets of fairly simple, plain printing (I printed several copies of a rather lengthy report for a business meeting), but I've also found that using better quality paper also helps extend this capacity (I presume because the paper is more robust, less absorbent and possibly able to maintain the print quality in a sharper fashion.) After 250-300 sheets, the print quality fails quite quickly. I was quite surprised at how quickly the black print went from being sharp and unbroken to quite faint and actually quite quickly unusable.

        The equivalent cartridges for the cyan, magenta and yellow have a greater capacity claimed by the manufacturer (300 sheets) and actually, I have managed to push this to 400 without a major loss of sharpness (indeed, it was the red print that seemed to suffer first on my colour printing). Due to the fact, of course, that many prints rely more on black than the colours, you can normally get away with pushing the capacity on colour cartridges a bit more, as even if the colour fades a little, as long as the type is clear, it doesn't matter so much.

        Given the versatility of the printer, the cartridges have proven themselves to be able to handle a number of different types of output.

        Firstly, my nephew was recently invited to his best friend's birthday party, and we purchased some blank stickers that we could print up as colourful name badges for him to take along as a surprise. We used pictures of various dinosaurs and a single, simple frame for each child's name and these printed up beautifully. At the party, the stickers were a huge hit and all the mums were impressed at the quality of the finished article. The print quality for the dinosaurs was outstanding; the colours were sharp and vivid and exactly as per the pictures that we had seen on screen. Alongside this, we also took the opportunity for my nephew to design his own birthday card. Once he had drawn the images and lettering, we scanned the picture in and then printed out on to some blank, glossy card. This was less effective, mainly in all fairness due the way in which the scanner had scanned the picture but my nephew was still delighted with the end project and proudly presented it to his best friend.

        I've also recently taken up the opportunity to print up some A5 and A4 pictures that I'd had stored in my photo library, which I wanted to place in a deliberately random fashion (yes I know that's an oxymoron) around the frame of my mirror. These included some shots of male models (colour and black and white), some images of my family and friends and an assortment of other curious or funny pictures. Of course, very often, it's not until you print up a digital picture that you realise that the original picture wasn't fantastic quality and the printer faithfully reproduced many of the images original imperfections. Some of the best pictures were, surprisingly, some black and white images of my friend's cats, which you would swear were taken professionally. These came out beautifully. I also had a range of very close-up pictures of colourful insects, which probably sounds a bit random, but the detail and quality of the photographs is astounding. I was delighted at the way in which these were printed. None of the colours or detail was lost in the printing process and, curiously, the vivid red colour of one of the insects was reproduced beautifully.

        Not long ago, I helped organise and run a Marie Curie charity cake sale, which required a load of flyers, posters, bunting and some place cards for all the cakes. These were all based around the same simple colour scheme (sky blue and bright yellow) and the printer coped very well with this. My printer seems to have a permanent link to the Google Map web site too, and printed copies of maps to various locations render very nicely with these cartridges.

        Clearly, you'd expect the quality of the printing to be better when the cartridges are new and this is certainly true, although the robustness of the colours stay surprisingly constant as you work your way through the cartridges. The loss in sharpness and intensity is very slow, until you suddenly reach a point when it deteriorates rapidly. But there are a number of factors in this. The amount and quality of images in your documents makes a difference, as does the paper that you use. The HP photo paper creates astoundingly good results compared to normal paper. This was most evident in the photos that I printed of the insects, but with all the photo paper prints, the finished product was massively superior compared to the standard paper.

        The addition of the Photosmart cartridge certainly seems to help achieve excellent results with these specialist prints. The Photosmart cartridge has a stated capacity of 130 photos and I think this is about right. I'm not a big producer of photographs alone, but having printed up various stickers, cards and photos, the quality of the print remained excellent.

        For Info - for best results, I 'd recommend that these were the Photo papers tested:

        Q6572A HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, high-gloss, 280 g/m², 13x18cm, borderless
        Q6573A HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, high-gloss, 280 g/m², 10x30cm, borderless

        These cartridges are relatively easy to find online, though I must say I couldn't find them on the Tesco or Asda web sites. Sainsburys sell them though, as do PC World, although the best deals are through the printer cartridge specialists. I'm led to believe that you can get them refilled, which costs around half the price of a new cartridge, but this isn't that popular with some users. Apparently, when refilled, the head doesn't register the presence of the ink properly and they can be a bit problematic. I only really buy ink cartridges from new and would always, at least, send the empty ones off to be recycled anyway.

        I'm reasonably impressed with the output from these cartridges, when considered against all the other factors. It has to be said that using photo paper or similar is quite revolutionary compared to normal paper and I would also use a better, premium paper for standard printing. Cheap paper doesn't give good results at all.

        Compared to the likes of Tesco own brand ink cartridges, these are unquestionably expensive, but they are fully guaranteed and I don't see the point of buying a good printer and sticking rubbish cartridges in it. So, overall, I would say these were good if you're printing onto something good.



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        • More +
          16.08.2010 15:57
          Very helpful


          • Reliability


          See review :)

          My last printer was an Epson DX 6050 all-in-one, it was an ink jet of which meant not only did the thing practically eat cartridges but when a colour cartridge ran out - I couldn't even print plain black text documents.

          Keeping the Epson aside solely for document printing, I have since changed to a HP PhotoSmart D5460 for imaging/photo print-outs, which cost in the region of £90-£100 and though it was still an ink jet, at least the cost of replacing ink cartridges would be kept down.

          Black ink cartridges are available individually for purchase for £6.99 from play.com (with free delivery) or bundles can be bought for £33.40 from Amazon, which includes black, photo black, cyan, magenta and yellow - not bad considering my last printer inks cost at least £10 each!

          The cartridges achieve excellent results every time, without fail - and best of all none of those annoying blotches, smudges or inconsistent lines in sight! I've only had to replace mine once having owned the printer for about 7 months. The cartridges are advertised as working best when used with HP Advanced photo paper (I wonder why...?) though I use another brand that is compatible also and the cartridges still deliver top quality, professional photos.

          The cartridges are easy to replace, and as with most printers the process is generally as follows: Make sure the printer is on and the lid is raised (on some models there is a cartridge changing button to press also). Ink cartridges have clip mechanisms on the top front, so to remove the used ones, simply press and hold the clip with one finger and gently ease it out of the cartridge carrier. On with the new cartridge! :) Carefullt remove the protective tape from the opening located on the bottom of the cartridge. Insert it into cartridge carrier where the old one had previously sat - you should hear a click when it has been correctly fitted. Your computer should then automatically detect the presence of the new cartridge and will begin to charge it ready for usage.

          Overall, I cannot fault the cartridges. They're reasonably priced, long-lasting and deliver exceptional quality, even towards the end of their lives :( Would whole-heartedly recommend - no hesitation!


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          • More +
            16.08.2010 10:13
            Very helpful


            • Reliability


            Good ink

            Recently we have been printing a lot more pictures than usual and thus I wanted to use a better quality (unfortunately this means a higher price) ink cartridge and these HP Photosmart 364 Ink Cartridges were recommended to me.

            One of the first things I liked was the fact that they are really easy to install, they are small and about the size of a cash card but obviously not as thin, there is a tag to pull that removes the cover and then a second orange tab that needs to be snapped as well and then you slide the cartridge into the printer, very easy and no mess at all.

            I was amazed at how much sharper the quality of my colour pictures is when I compare the results against cheaper ink cartridges, the colours are a lot brighter and the images are more defined and I have been really impressed with the consistency of the quality throughout the life of the cartridge. Using good quality photo paper the results you get will compare with the photo processing at Boots in my opinion they look so good.

            I was just as impressed with the quality of the printing on standard copier paper when it came to printing off a powerpoint presentation in colour which my other half needed, the colours again were nice and sharp and very clear. There has been no smudging at all whether printing in colour or black and white and the documents are dry when they slide out of the printer so no mess on your hands.

            According to the packaging you can get between 250 to 300 sheets (less from the photo black) from each cartridge, I have not kept count but certainly the initial cartridges I used lasted for a decent amount of time during a high usage few weeks, price wise each cartridge is in the £5 to £6 range however the quality of the end product does justify the cost in my opinion.


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          • More +
            05.08.2010 07:29
            Very helpful


            • Reliability


            Quality ink for printing professional standard photos

            As my writing career has taken off, I've inevitably had to start making much heavier use of printers than I was a few years ago when I was virtually paperless. Manuscripts for agents and publishers, contracts to print, sign and fax back to people, covering letters, etc, about six months ago it got well past the point where I could run the odd sheet off on the office printer with a clear conscience.

            At the same time, my girlfriend is currently preparing to go into higher education in the Autumn and we were keen to make photo albums to record our time living together in South London, in order to help ease the initial shock of separation. Although I've owned a digital camera of some sort since 1998, I've always steered away from printing digital photos at home. I'd always assumed the paper would be really expensive and the colours would look washed out, and why not just go to Snappy Snaps and get them to do it for me?

            The photo album idea changed that. For one thing, we have hundreds of photos of our last few months together, in London, Paris and other areas. And for another, some of them are, well, not exactly saucy, but I'm not sure I fancy some spotty teenager working out the back of Snappy Snaps to get his hands on them.

            Then a certain other website was kind enough to offer me a trial of the HP Photosmart Printer C309, which came with a complete set of five (count them) Photosmart 364 ink cartridges. That's cyan, magenta, yellow, black and 'photo black' (red, blue, yellow and black as we call them when not talking about printing!). Although it sounds like a confusing and expensive number of products, it was actually the five cartridges that sold the printer to me. A criticism of early colour printers was the way in which they used to eat ink cartridges, especially their habit of making black by mixing together the three coloured inks - to have a dedicated cartridge for black text documents was a bit of a godsend for me.

            The cartridges cost anything from £6 to £11 each, depending on where you shop, and come in robust packaging. Although excessive packaging is the new binge drinking, I think you can forgive manufacturers when the product is basically a large bottle of ink. So the plastic cartridge is sealed with a plastic widget, wrapped in plastic and then packaged in sturdy cardboard.

            Installation was easy enough, the cartridges were all colour-coded even once they had been unwrapped, and it was just a case of twisting off the plastic widget, removing the protective tape, and slotting them into the relevant socket inside the printer. Each individual cartridge came with its own miniature set of instructions, and while again that might look wasteful, there is a strong chance that you are only going to be replacing one cartridge at a time as individual inks run dry. If you are the sort of person who prints infrequently, as I used to be, a fresh set of instructions each time is therefore going to come in useful.

            Once the printer was set up, and the inevitable test page was lining our bin, we selected our first favourite photo (the two of us looking faintly silly in sunglasses in Paris), and away we went. Within a minute, our photo was printed and drying. The ink dried in... well, less than five minutes. I left it a few minutes because I was in a cautious mood, but it dried pretty quickly. And it looked completely like a proper photo, the colours were pin-sharp and vibrant. It might be worth mentioning at this point that alongside the writing and acting, my day job is in publishing, so I know a few things about what to look for in a print job and I was a very happy person indeed.

            Next up was a full A4 photo of, well, me. In what looks like a Boris Johnson wig and Elizabethan costume (a long story). We printed it on normal A4 paper, but the colours were still leaping off the page even if the paper itself was not quite so glossy. We quickly decided to use only the proper photo paper for our pictures, but if we were making collages or something similar, standard A4 printer paper is totally adequate. We printed off four of our Paris pictures on Photo paper, and then again on A4, and the ink performs well in both circumstances, we decided it was mostly the paper finish that let the standard paper down.

            On the document side, we were going to my girlfriend's leaving drinks at her job last Friday, and the cocktail bar in question had a 2 for 1 voucher up on their website. So obviously we printed ten vouchers, because why on Earth wouldn't you? As the copies chuntered out of the paper tray they were completely identical and the ink dried more or less instantly for the lower quality job. The barmaid quickly caught on to our attempted cocktail fraud as the night went on, but she let us have the BOGOF anyway, so it was a bit of a result all round!

            At this point we'd printed out a huge number of photos and cocktail vouchers, and the ink cartridges were starting to empty slightly. They were doing so very consistently, however (magenta maybe slightly in the lead), and we started talking about what we should do about buying a new set of ink cartridges.

            I hate refilled ink cartridges. I hate them with every bone in my publishing body. I can see why people who just want to print off their kids' homework cheaply might resent paying £50 for a set of new cartridges, but a lot of refill places are really slapdash, and in my limited experience of using them, I've paid for cartridges which just don't work at all, cartridges which leak, and cartridges which end up soaking the paper through with substandard ink. On the one occasion, five years ago, when I had a refilled cartridge that actually worked, the ink lasted a fraction of the time that a proper cartridge would have done.

            So while the cost of a full set of printer cartridges might be daunting for some people, it's a no-brainer to me. If you've got a modern, high-tech printer, capable of printing high-resolution digital photos, you need to get the proper ink cartridges. Any technician will tell you that a system is only ever as good as its weakest component, and the fact is that refilled cartridges are unreliable, low quality and don't tend to last very long. You're skimping on quality, and while it can be hard to believe you save money in the long run by sticking with the genuine HP product, any saving you would manage to make by using refilled or generic cartridges is likely to be minimal and not worth the quality sacrifice. There's probably a case for printer manufacturers to answer about the price of their products, but that's a completely separate issue.

            The other main task that the Photosmart printer and indeed ink cartridges, have performed, aside from scanning exam certificates to email to my girlfriend's new university, is helping me prepare for the launch of my first professionally published book. This is to be a somewhat more polished affair than Killing Me Softly. I printed out the entire first section of the book, about 20 pages, to send to my old lecturer who has kindly agreed to write a foreword for me. Not a smudge, not a blemish, in 20 pages of text. I usually find that most problems with text printing come about because of dust on the paper or in the printer rather than a fault with the ink, but nevertheless, it is worth mentioning. The text was dark and bold and perfectly aligned, with no bleeding or other irritations. I was proud to post to it my old tutor, and am now looking forward to the foreword.

            Finally, I received the long-awaited proof of the first version of the book's cover. I was happily looking at this mixture of text, photos and reproduction of a classic oil painting on the screen, when my girlfriend pointed out it might be more sensible to print it off at actual size, to give a real idea of what it would look like wrapped around a book.

            We printed it off on standard A4 paper, and I was a bit worried. The text was fine, but the photos, and the oil painting in particular, were looking a bit drab. Reprinting on the photo paper, far closer to the glossy stock I'm assured the finished book will use, was a different story, though, and the colours really came to life. I'm very excited, can you tell?

            Nothing in life is perfect, but it is very hard to find anything much to criticise about the HP Photosmart 364 cartridges. They have lasted a lot longer than I thought they would, and have shown themselves to be well-suited to both photos and text documents across a variety of paper stocks. I know they could be construed as being expensive items at a time when a lot of people are looking to cut financial corners, but then I look on home printing as a bit of a luxury anyway. Perhaps the only real disadvantage is the packaging - I can see why there is so much, but there is no indication that recycled cardboard is used, a bit naughty!

            After three weeks of pretty intense printing, we are still on our first set of printer cartridges. As a final little test before writing this review, I printed out the first four photos again, on both standard and photo paper, to see whether the colours were fading, now that we were getting towards the bottom of the barrel. Not only were the colours on the new prints just as vibrant as the first batch I had printed, a couple of weeks previously, but the older copies had not faded or lost any sharpness whatsoever.

            Basically, the cartridges were easy to install, produced great results and have provided excellent value. I'm certainly never going to even consider using a cloned or refilled product for this printer, and I have a couple of wonderful photo albums celebrating my last six months with my girlfriend. I'm looking forward to producing many more photo albums as the years roll on!


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            • More +
              04.08.2010 11:40
              Very helpful


              • Reliability


              Ink ink ink....

              When Ciao (yes, yes I know I'm writing on the other side here) phoned me to say I'd been selected to test some HP printer cartridges I initially thought it was such a good idea, and I was quite chuffed by the prospect of a 'free' printer.

              However, 10 minutes later the reality of the situation hit me:
              * Firstly, I don't actually need a printer. I have one at home which I hardly ever use (aside from the odd recipe) because I tend to do my printing at work!
              * Secondly, the thought of writing a 'review to order' so-to-speak wasn't something I really liked the idea of....and the subject matter - printer cartridges - hardly the most uplifting topic.
              * Thirdly, the logistics of it all. That day I was travelling down to my parent's in Essex after work, going to Rome the next day for a long weekend, and then the rest of the week in Essex before coming back to Cumbria. I had told Ciao to deliver the printer to my parent's house since that's where I'd be when it was delivered. However, I hadn't really thought things through, after all how would I get the printer back home with me whilst travelling on the train?

              ---The Challenge---
              When the printer arrived on Wednesday morning my decision was made for me, there is no way I'd be able to take the printer home with me (London Underground with suitcase and a printer - I don't think so!), therefore the 3 week test period would have to instead be carried out over 3 days. Not to fear, I like a challenge....and being off work I'd probably have more free time over the 3 days than I'd usually have in 3 weeks...but over the 3 days this printer completely took over my life - that's dedication to Ciao for you. Hint hint dooyoo....my loyalties can easily be swayed!

              Not to put any additional pressure on me but the enclosed letter said "We will contact you again soon to check that the printer is set up and you have everything you need to write an exceptional review (or at least a very helpful one)!" I don't know what will happen if I don't meet Ciao's expectations, so let's hope I don't have to find out....it seems to be going down well so far!

              It was made clear to me that I would be reviewing the printer cartridges (HP Photosmart 364), NOT the printer. However, I should inform you that it's an HP Photosmart Premium Series - C309g. A nice looking machine, all in one printer and scanner, and wireless too if you want to use that feature - it really is all-singing, all-dancing. If only I could teleport it back home - it's a lot more flashy than my Lexmark...

              I'm not very good with technical things, and luckily my brother was coming round to the parent's so I got him to install it. I told him that he could keep the printer afterwards which now I come to think of it is actually pretty generous of me (and I fear I'm starting to fall in love with the damn thing, and my mother thinks it's the best thing ever invented). The printer itself took ages to install, but that's through no fault of the printer cartridges!

              It was dead simple to put the HP Photosmart 364 cartridges in. Unusually, this takes FIVE cartridges - Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black and Photo Black.

              Inside the usual card packaging the cartridges are wrapped in plastic with a little orange tab making it easy to pull off the plastic (this is SO much easier than my Lexmark cartridges which you need scissors to open - so there's a bonus), there is an instruction manual attached to the plastic. Still, more packaging than absolutely necessary though as is usually the case. They are very easy to insert, and there's little orange lids which you could put back on the cartridges should you choose to take them out of the printer (although they do tend to fall off).

              ---Print Test---
              Cartridges in and printer installed it was time to test it out, and I decided to go with HP's photo test print of some brightly coloured flowers. I chose a 10x15cm borderless Glossy 250 g/m² from my pack of complimentary papers.

              It was love at first sight, the picture printed out was absolutely stunning. Just like a proper traditional photo, only even better...words cannot describe the sheer joy experienced from this picture - life does not get much better than this. The colour was truly stunning, completely flawless, perfection...the cartridges are described on the box as "Precise. Reliable. Original HP Inks." I think that sums it up.

              Can I just leave the review there?

              ---Ok, I know you want more, you have given me a printer after all ---
              Having returned from my long weekend in Rome, having a printer to test out was the perfect opportunity for me to print out some holiday snaps, so I started with a nice glossy picture of the Trevi fountain, unfortunately I chose the wrong setting and ended up with a white border down each side (there are so many options to choose from on the Printer settings, and it's all very complicated for my little mind) which looks a bit odd (it's nice with a white border all the way round), but otherwise another stunning picture. I printed some more on this paper as I had a few of these sheets. It is surely a combination of the printer, the ink, the paper and of course my amazing photographic skills which led to such stunning pictures.

              ---So, what if normal paper is used?---
              I had a nice picture I'd taken of a tree...I printed it out on the standard paper that Ciao had provided me with (I don't have the specs for this paper - sorry!)

              The picture came out of the printer still pretty wet with ink, a particularly colour heavy picture. However, I have to say it was still pretty impressive quality. I have printed out a number of pictures on normal paper, and I'd say that they're as good quality as the big Cannon photocopier I use at work in terms of the print colour quality.

              The only slight niggle is that on pictures which are very dark in background, sometimes there are some faint vertical lines visible on the picture (just over a centimetre apart), but people tell me that these lines are down to the printer and the heads perhaps needing cleaning.

              ---Testing different papers ---
              Ciao had sent me various different types of paper to test which I'll run through briefly:

              C6832A HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, high-gloss, 280 g/m², A4, 2 sheets - I printed out a nice picture of the leaning tower of Pisa on this, and a black and white view of Rome. The detail in the back and white picture was particularly clear. There's definitely something about black and white pictures...

              C6951A HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, satin-matt, 280 g/m², A4, 2 sheets - Although initially a bit dubious about this paper, the picture I printed of a church in Florence was absolutely stunning, the detail superb. My parents and their friends were very impressed, particularly since my camera is nothing special (I wrote a review on it once) - imagine the pictures if I'd been using a decent camera?! The ink cartridges clearly work well with this paper!

              Q6572A HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, high-gloss, 280 g/m², 13x18cm, borderless, 2 sheets - me holding up the leaning tower of Pisa, and a replica of Michelangelo's David. I did manage to smudge the ink on the sky as I thought there was a bit of dirt on the photo, but actually it was a bird in the photo. I am finding that you need to be careful not to smudge pictures when they're new out of the printer, particularly on the glossy paper. And although allegedly these expensive papers are meant to be more water resistant, they really aren't - I tested!

              Q6573A HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, high-gloss, 280 g/m², 10x30cm, borderless, 2 sheets - these are the panorama sized photos - have to say I haven't figured out how to do a panoramic picture so I haven't used this paper.

              Q8027A HP Premium Plus photo Paper, high-gloss, 280 g/m² - 10x15cm, plus tear-off tab, 2 sheets - First attempt to print out a picture of the Colosseum, put paper in wrong way, not to fear, printed out again on other side. Also printed out a picture of a ceiling in the Vatican, but this has come out with lines across it. I have to say I'm not convinced about this type of paper, and not sure what the point of the tear-off tab is.

              Q8691A HP Advanced Photo Paper, glossy, 250 g/m² - 10x15cm, borderless, 2 sheets - as below except smaller paper.

              Q8696A HP Advanced Photo Paper, glossy, 250 g/m² - 13x18cm, borderless, 2 sheets - Having already printed Michelangelo's David I thought I'd print it again for comparison, unfortunately put paper in wrong way up again and made a right mess, got my fingers covered in ink. When I printed it out again I'd say that the quality is no different than on the 280 g/m² paper.

              Personally I prefered the quality of the pictures printed on the Glossy 250g/m² to any of the other papers which I had been sent.

              ---So, what else shall I print?---
              It's harder than you'd imagine having to find things to print on demand in such a short time period - I will be so annoyed next time there's actually things I need/want to print. But must use the ink to do the test and complete my challenge. Sorry environment!

              So, I've printed out the NICE clinical guidelines on Borderline Personality Disorder (thought they might come in handy) and some recent report about self-harm which looks like something I should read. It is so clever, the printer actually does double-sided without you having to put the paper back in another way up! Very clever, but sadly that's about the printer, not the cartridges.

              My mum's been printing out her emails and various photos. The quality of pictures even just printed out on bog standard white paper is good (as I've already mentioned). When trying out the scanner I stuck in my graduation picture and sent it straight to print, the copy looks almost as good as the original, if it was framed you probably wouldn't really be able to tell the difference.

              Realising that I was going to have to print quite a bit in order to use up the first set of cartridges I asked my best friend if there were any pictures she'd like done. I printed her 10 A4 photos. By this time I'd run out of my complimentary paper, so was using my parent's photo paper which is "Xerox Photo Paper High Gloss 180g/m²", and I think that I prefer this paper to the others I've used since it's much harder to accidentally smudge the ink on them as I was finding I was doing before occasionally. Sorry HP, I prefer the Xerox paper....but hey, I'm still loving your printer and cartridges!

              ---How many sheets do they print?---
              It was while I was printing out my friend's pictures that the printer started to alert me that it was running out of coloured ink. I ignored the warnings until one picture printed out (see my picture) with a very red tint to it, although I think it's quite arty actually!

              Since it was telling me to replace all three coloured cartridges, I did so....although I think it was probably the blue which was the only one that had completely been used up (it's all that blue sky!) as the printer is now showing me that blue is the lowest colour left.

              The colour cartridges say on them that they print 300 pages....but I have no idea what this means....300 pages of what?! 300 pages of general text with a bit of colour I'd hazard a guess at?

              The black cartridge says on the back 250 pages, and the Photo Black cartridge says 130 photos.

              Having replaced the coloured cartridges, my task was now to use up the rest of the black ink, although there was frequently a warning that the black ink is running out, it just seemed to keep going...

              Finally, having replaced all of the inks, let's do an inventory of what I've actually printed:
              A4 Coloured photos - 20
              A4 Black & White Photos - 17
              Other colour photos - 15
              Other black and white photos - 5
              Normal printed A4 pages (web pages, emails and text/pictures) in b/w and colour - 170

              Obviously what you get will depend upon what you're printing (and the settings used, for instance everyday printing or presentation style)...but we all knew that anyway. Although my task writing this review is to see how long they last compared to other inks I have used, it is absolutely impossible to do this. I have never before counted the number of sheets or measured the length of time a print cartridge has lasted me for (had I known that I would one day be reviewing these cartridges then perhaps I would have). The only way to do an accurate test would be to use 2 printers at the same time, printing out exactly the same things on each, and surely this would be best done by the professionals (who unlike me don't put the photo paper in the printer upside down!) So, you're just going to have to take what I've said and compare it to what you think you get from your own current cartridges! I hope I haven't completely failed my task...

              ---Cost and Availability---
              I asked Ciao to find out for me the RRP of the printer cartridges - it is £7.99 for the colours, and the black is £8.99. Apparently each Photosmart printer comes with a set of cartridges, and there are also regularly offers available.

              I have seen a set of 4 inks on Amazon (then you'd need the photo black as well), for £17.90, and I've seen a bundle of all 5 for £29.85.
              There is also the option to buy inks along with photo paper (found some offers on the Tesco website) which might work out more cost effective.

              I don't think that these are the easiest printer cartridges to come by at the moment (but that's probably because they are relatively new?), so your best bet is to shop around online.

              ---Finally ---
              I enjoyed my printer cartridge testing experience even if it was a bit of a challenge. I'm not the most technically minded person and this isn't the most inspiring of review writing topics, but I hope I've given you a balanced overview of the HP 364 ink cartridges. Happy Printing!


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              • More +
                03.08.2010 21:21
                Very helpful


                • Reliability


                High Quality, Long Lasting Ink Cartridges that are Worth the Extra Cost

                It was my good fortune recently to be asked to test Original HP Photosmart 364 Ink Cartridges. I have previously experienced HP Ink Cartridges in a work environment and I was aware of their reputation regarding quality and longevity but had been using cheaper cartridges recently at home (as finances sadly dictate) - would the superior HP quality be evident when I tested them?

                The cartridges themselves are pretty dinky - the colour cartridges are only the size of a chunky credit card. They are also clean and virtually idiot-proof to install - even for a post-natal, hormonal, sleep-deprived tester such as myself. Just pull the tag to remove the cover, snap the orange plastic tab and slot to place. I'm just about the clumsiest person I know and even I managed to fit the cartridges without dirtying my hands.

                So I've fitted my new ink cartridges - now to print! Luckily, I've just had a new baby and there are lots of printing opportunities so off we go....

                <<< Photographs >>>

                Anyone who has visited my homepage recently will have seen the images of our gorgeous new son and I wasted no time in printing off a variety of photographs of both him and his big sisters for the doting grandparents, aunts, uncles and great Grandma. I am happy to report that the photographs printed certainly do him justice. The colour is vibrant, the prints are glossy and sharp and there is no smudging of the images. No waiting for them to dry either, they are instantly safe to handle. To my mind, the quality of the prints is superior that of the prints that my husband obtained recently from our local supermarket photoshop.

                <<< Colour Printing >>>

                I also printed a number of photographs on ordinary printer paper as a small collage incorporated within personalised stationery for writing Thank You letters. Although you do lose some of the sharpness of the images due to the more porous nature of the paper, the colour was still very true to the original photographs. As we have been inundated with gifts for our new arrival, I produced a substantial stock of this stationery and there was no discernable difference in quality between copy number one and copy number thirty.

                <<< Black and White Documents >>>

                I used the ink to print off a number of pages with predominantly black text - spreadsheets of financial information. (I'm the treasurer of an organisation and I keep the financial records for my brother's two businesses.) Some of these pages contain a lot of data and the text is subsequently on the small side. I found that the printing was still very clear and precise, and again, there was no smudging or "bleeding" of the print. And again, no waiting about for the print to dry - and no transfer of any ink residue to my fingers either.

                I also printed a considerable quantity of "Disney Princess" colouring-in sheets. My two five year old independent quality control inspectors declared them to be "Excellent!" A ringing endorsement indeed, from two very fussy wee girls.

                <<< Longevity >>>

                I have taken full advantage of the cartridges provided to me for testing and I have printed a LOT. Well in excess of 100 pages, most of which were in full colour. I have tried to print off sufficient pages so that the cartridges would run out but alas, they are still going strong. They do purport to last for 250 - 300 pages (130 photographs for the Photo Black cartridge), depending on the printer and paper quality, and I have no reason to doubt this claim. (I will update my review if, and eventually when, I am required to replace my cartridges)

                <<< Overall >>>

                Obviously the overall quality of the printing achieved is dependent on printer and paper quality as well as the ink used, but I am very impressed with the HP Photosmart 364 ink cartridges. No, they are not the cheapest ink cartridges but they are high quality and long lasting - this is one instance where you definitely get what you pay for.

                <<< Technical Bits & Bobs >>>

                HP Ink Cartridge - Photosmart 364
                For HP Photosmart B8550, C5324, C5380, C6324, C6380, D5460, HP Photosmart Plus, HP Photosmart Premium
                Black - from £6.31
                Photo Black - from £5.21
                Magenta - from £5.37
                Yellow - from £5.24
                Cyan - from £5.37
                All prices include VAT but exclude P&P charges and are taken from https://h30042.www3.hp.com/SureSupply/CountrySelection.do#1
                Photosmart Ink Cartridges also available in XL version which yield over twice as many pages/photos


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                • More +
                  03.08.2010 18:33
                  Very helpful


                  • Reliability


                  Some really good ink and in the long run it will save you a lot of money.

                  Printers today in 2010 have become a must have household item, some people use an all-in-one printer or some just use a simple printer which does nothing else but print items from their computer. The biggest problem however over the years has always been the fact that when you pay for a printer, no matter how expensive or cheap it is, like a car, it will never stop costing you money as long as you use it. Whereas some printer prices have begun to drop, the cost of the consumables which are needed for a printer to run stay the same price and in many cases, the less money you pay for a printer, the more likely you are to have to fork out for more ink over the course of the life of your printer.

                  When I was asked to take part in the HP User Test, it was a perfect time for myself as I was about to go on a lovely little holiday and when I returned would need to print out a lot of the pictures ready for my photo albums I wanted to create. As well as that, as an aspiring photographer, I spend quite a lot of time and effort using Printing Websites so it would be lovely to print off the pictures I have taken recently to put into my Photography Portfolio.

                  To do the HP User Test I was sent the following items; A HP Photosmart Printer, 2 Sets of Original HP 364 ink cartridges and some HP Photo Paper and some regular paper as well. I had to test the printer and the cartridges for three weeks or until all of the ink was empty, and after four days of printing quite a lot of pictures and other items, the ink has pretty much gone and myself and my friends now have a large pile of pictures of our holiday.

                  In my home already, we have two printers, a HP PSC 1510 All In One and an Epson Stylus SX200 the former was quite an expensive printer when it was originally brought a few years ago; however the ink is very expensive to buy, so we use it as little as possible. The Epson was brought by me last year when I went to University; it was in the price range of £25-£35, so as printers go it is rather cheap. We use this one the most, however it does have many problems including guzzling the ink very quickly, so much so we have recently resorted to buying third party inks, due to the fact I could not afford to keep buying more Epson ink over and over again.

                  To do this test, I dragged all three printers into one room and set them all up on my laptop. This way I could make sure I had exactly the same prints, the same paper and I could compare these prints very easily and very quickly. I of course for lack of money issues, couldn't print out too many prints using the HP 1510 or Epson SX200 printer, however after years of trying them out; I know how long they last.

                  Ease of Installing

                  When it came to installing the ink in the HP Photosmart Premium printer, I found it very simple and quite a quick process. To install the ink as always lift up the lid of the printer and automatically the place where you put the ink should come into the middle. Give the ink in your hand a little shake before taking off the wrapping, once the wrapping is off you should notice a little orange thing on the ink. Pull this off and your ready to install it into the printer. Once it's placed in place, close the lid and you should be ready to print. This printer was quick and as soon as the ink was installed, it printed out an aligning page and you are ready to print.

                  Quality of Ink

                  My Test 1

                  To do the first part of the test, I popped in one piece of 10 x 30 cm Premium Plus High Gloss Photo paper into each printer and chose one of my holiday prints which is of a boat with some mountains behind it, with blue sea and blue sky. As well as that I popped in another piece of paper of a lower quality and I chose a photograph I took at a Bird Life Centre a few months ago of a close up of a Blue and Gold Macaw. This part of the test was taken at the beginning of the second lot of ink in the HP Photosmart and when the Epson SX200 and HP 1510 said they still had quite a bit of ink in them.

                  Firstly I printed out the picture using the HP 1510 printer, and the results were pretty good, the ink for this printer is usually around the £35 mark. For the boat picture, it came out really crisp and the colours looked just exactly like they did on the computer. When it came to the picture of the Macaw, it showed off the yellow perfectly and the white of the face was very strong and is exactly like I wanted it when I took the picture.

                  The Epson SX200 pictures came out well below par; the ink in this printer however is not original and was brought from EBay a few weeks ago. I was really disappointed at how the blue of the sea came out with this ink, as it was not sharp and just did nothing for the print.

                  Now for the HP Photosmart print and the 364 ink, there is no doubting that it is the best overall print out of the three pictures. When it came to looking at the print that the HP 1510 printer provided, I really did think it was very clear and looked fantastic, however when I compare it side by side to the 364 ink print, it is so much more crisper and it works better with both of the pictures.

                  Test 2

                  For the next bit of this test I decided to test the quality of the ink on both the HP Photosmart and the Epson when both printers stated that they were apparently 'running low'. My HP printer still had a lot of ink left in, so it couldn't be included in this part of the test. The Epson picture actually did come out better than the ink on the HP Photosmart did for this bit of the test, this could have been for many reasons however, but the yellow of the Macaw came out a bright orange almost red colour and the black of the beak faded into the background so much so you could barely see the outline. On the Epson print the colour was around the same quality in the first part of the test, the HP Photosmart print was still probably better with the entire faded colour but it had changed dramatically from the original print I printed out earlier.

                  How Long Did It Last?

                  Like I said earlier in this review I was using this test to print off my holiday 'snaps'. After I heard I was getting the printer, I offered to print out some pictures for my friends as well. There was getting in the range of about 150 pictures I needed to print, so I set off printing and here are the results.

                  Ink Set 1

                  Before a warning sign came on the printer to say there was low ink, I managed to print out a total of 107, 10 x 6" pictures, we then decided to not change the ink and see how many prints I could get out of the printer before the colour began to run out on the pictures. I managed to print out another 32 more 10 x 6" prints before the pictures began to have some lines down the prints and we decided to have them changed. This is a massive amount of prints to get out of one set of ink, when I used my Epson once with the original ink; I only managed to get out a total of twelve 10 x 6" prints before it was empty.

                  Ink Set 2

                  There is still a little bit of ink left in this set of ink, however it is starting to go and out of this set of ink I managed to get another 70 10 x 6" prints, but this time I was also printing out A4 prints as well and I managed to get 13 of those printed out before the colour started to run a little bit. This set I don't believe worked as well as the first set, as the colour did seem to run a lot quicker, but I was printing out bigger pictures which came out brilliantly well, really clear and really nice for what I wanted.

                  HP Original Cartridge Test

                  To complete this review I was asked to do the following tests and then include the results of each test in the review:

                  Test 1

                  For this test I had to print out 4 photographs on standard paper and then print out 4 photographs on the HP Photo paper and compare them. As I had used most of the paper, I decided to print out 4 pictures onto the 10 x 30cm and see how they turned out. The pictures I printed worked brilliantly, they came out fantastically well. I then cut a piece of normal standard paper down to the same size and printed out the same pictures again. The colour still came out quite good but of course as you expect the prints on the HP Photo paper came out well above par, I found with the standard paper, the blue of my friends top blended into the black background. There is no doubting that if you are going to print out pictures, which you want to keep, then it is always worth paying a little extra for good photo paper.

                  Test 2

                  For the next part of the test I had to print out a medium sized document, so around 15+ pages. I actually struggled to find something to print of that size, so I used the ink to print out the Manual to a new game I have just downloaded to my Computer. As this test also includes pictures it is also part of Test 3. The ink deals very well with this and in the printer quickly produces all 25 pages in under 3 minutes which I thought was very good considered it includes colour and pictures as well. The black ink looked very good however I found the blue border quite washed out on some of the pages.

                  Test 3

                  For this part of the test I had to print out a document which has a mixture of text and images using standard paper, and then again I had to use the HP Photo Paper to print out the same document and compare them. I had already used text and images in the previous test, and found it was very quick to print, however the colour on the standard paper looked a bit washed out compared to what I was seeing on screen. For this part of the test I had to print out a document with a mixture of text and images onto HP Photo Paper, as I only had one piece of Photo Paper left from all of my other tests, I used a document from the same manual which had quite a few images and quite a lot of text as well. I found the printer and the ink dealt very well with printing out the document on the HP Photo Paper, the blue was very crisp on this page however it did seem a bit of a waste using good Photo Paper to print out a document from the internet so I would always recommend using standard paper for this.

                  Test 4

                  For test 4 I had to print 10 copies of the same document in quick succession. I decided to print out my CV for this part of the test as I can always do with keeping quite a few close to hand at the moment just in case I find a job which is perfect for me before going to University. I found the printer to deal with my CV very well and very quickly, the ink never faded throughout this part of the test despite it being close to the end of the ink. It printed very quickly; I believe it took about 3 minutes for all 20 pages to be printed which is very good and very quick.

                  Final Opinion

                  There is no doubting that the ink I used for this test was the best ink I've had to use in my time using printers and computers over the years. From what I can gather this printer is meant to be aimed at helping families and making printing homework a lot easier, quicker and without any hassle. The ink I believe will last a good three months when a family is using it for simple things like assignments, printing the odd family picture out, using it to print out vouchers or whatever else you can think of.

                  The HP 364 ink is an ink that I would really recommend and there is no doubting that it is above par compared to the ink I use for the two other printers in the house. If you were to buy the ink you are looking at paying £7 per colour which comes to around the same price as the ink we use for our HP 1510 printer however as you are changing individual cartridges it will in the long run save you money.

                  I hope this review helps, I would really recommend buying a printer which uses HP 364 ink as it is at a reasonable price and the ink does a very good job and lasts for a long period of time.

                  Hope this helps.

                  Kirsty 2010


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                  • More +
                    03.08.2010 16:40
                    Very helpful
                    1 Comment


                    • Reliability


                    A great ink for all purposes.


                    As a user of HP inks for 20 years since the days of the Deskjet 500, I have always been impressed with the excellent quality of the output. When I took delivery of my new Photosmart printer, it gave me the chance to test out HP's newest ink brand, simply known as the 364 ink. My previous printer, the Photosmart 3210 ran on the HP Vivera 363 ink which gave me excellent results.


                    There are five different colours of the 364 ink, namely Photo Black, Magenta, Cyan, Yellow and Black. The beauty of having different cartridges for each colour means that when you run out of a colour, you only need to replace that one as opposed to replacing the entire colour cartridge as you would need to with certain other types of ink.

                    Installing the cartridges is a quick and easy job. Once you have taken one out of its packaging and snapped it away from its protective plastic base you just push it into the correct bay in the print tray until it clicks into place. That's all there is to it, once you have done this for all the cartridges you need to replace, you are ready to print.
                    Photo Printing

                    Photo printing has come a long way in the past five years or so. When printing photos with earlier inks it was obvious which was the original and which was the copy as printer inks were not far enough advanced to produce the true colours that a professionally developed photograph would give. Slowly, ink manufacturers have got their act in order and are now producing almost identical photographs to the original. The HP 364 ink is a frontrunner in this area as photographs printed onto dedicated HP premium photo paper, when placed side by site with the original look identical. In some cases, the only way to tell them apart is to look on the back of the photo for any HP logo or any other distinctive feature, the quality is really that good.
                    A problem with inkjet ink is that it has always taken a while to dry, meaning that if you pick up your printout too soon, you leave a nice fingermark or smudge on your photograph which means you either have to live with the consequences or print out another copy, using up extra ink which is not going to prove popular. The HP 364 ink appears to be very fast drying. If you attempt to pick up your newly printed photograph within 10-15 seconds of it dropping into the tray, you will find that it is completely dry and ready to show off to friends and family.

                    ===Document Printing===

                    The standard black printer cartridge is very impressive. As someone who produces lots of professional looking documents, I took the liberty of comparing the output from my HP 364 ink with that from an original HP toner in the HP Laserjet M2727 printer. In the past, the quality of output from laser printers has been significantly better than the output from inkjet inks. With the 364 ink, this is no longer the case. Characters are perfectly formed on the page and the document still looks extremely professional. Add colour images and texts to the document and the combination of inks works really well with no bleeding or unintentional mixing of colours.

                    ===Printing on different quality paper===

                    As with any ink, the key to producing high quality documents usually comes down to the type of paper you print on. The same is true of the HP 364 inks although, even on standard quality paper, the output is still excellent. As a test, I printed out the same photograph four times on standard paper and then four times on photo paper to see if the ink quality degraded between each print and also to compare the outputs on the different types of media. The results from this test were impressive. Firstly, there was no degradation between the first and the last printouts and although, the printouts on premium HP Photopaper looked amazing, the ones printed on standard paper were still exceptional, in fact they were the highest quality photographs I've seen on standard paper in terms of being similar to the original for colour strength.

                    The same test was conducted with a 15 page report. This time HP Premium A4 paper was used along with standard supermarket A4 paper. The quality of output on standard A4 paper was considerably better than any previous output I have seen from an inkjet printer, that was until I saw the output on HP Premium paper. On this type of paper, the output from the ink in simply outstanding and could easily be used for producing high powered documents. The character definitions are perfect, even scrutinising them at close range will not find any blemishes. The standard A4 output results are also excellent, considering the difference in quality of paper, the ink really does respond magnificently to lower quality paper meaning that you aren't going to have to break the bank each time you need to print out an assignment or an internal report.

                    In order to test the flexibility of the HP 364 ink, as one final test, I reprinted the initial four photographs on HP Premium photo paper to test the quality after the ink had gone through some serious tests. I wanted to see if any more bleeding or decolourisation had taken place since printing different types of documents on different types of stationery. The results I got from this test were not unexpected, I have to say. The quality of the new set of photographs was identical to the very first set we had produced. This result gave me confidence that the HP 364 ink would cope with any type of document that could be thrown at it, safe in the knowledge that the first page would be of equal quality to the last page.

                    ===The life of the ink===

                    Printer consumables can, over the lifetime of a printer, cost more to replace than the initial outlay for the printer. As a user, you want peace of mind that you will not be changing your cartridges every other week. HP boast that their original cartridges will give you up to 34% more pages than compatible inks which is quite a difference. As a guide, the photo black cartridge will give you 130 photos, the colour cartridges will produce 300 pages and the black cartridge will give you 250 pages. Of course, these figures are only a guide and will differ depending on the density and page coverage of each colour you use. XL cartridges are available in each colour which offers you a considerable saving in price per millilitre if you are someone who gets through ink quickly. Although the tests performed above were quite extensive and used a lot of ink, it was probably slightly less ink than I would have expected to have used which was pleasing.


                    I have always been more than happy with HP ink but comparing the 364 ink to anything previously is like comparing chalk and cheese. The difference, even from the 363 ink to 364 is breathtaking. Obviously the quality of the printer also needs to be taken into consideration when printing but with a good printer and 364 inks you can now start to produce laser printer quality documents but with the cost of inkjet consumables.


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                    • More +
                      03.08.2010 14:53
                      Very helpful



                      Great quality ink cartridges

                      The HP 364 ink cartridges are of great quality and I was very impressed with their performance all round. They are currently selling at Amazon for around £5.50 each or £20 for a set of four, which sounds quite expensive, but is much cheaper than the cartridges we have had to buy for previous printers we have had.

                      The HP Photosmart Printer C309g uses five cartridges at a time - one each of cyan, magenta and yellow plus two black cartridges. (One of the black cartridges is for photos, the other for general use.) The cartridges are colour-coordinated and have a little image of a different shape on each one too, so you can easily see which cartridge is which colour. They are small and compact rectangular cartridges, which come with a plastic clip you have to break off to expose the ink.

                      You lift up the main body of the printer, then the cartridge unit comes out from behind its protective cover. At this point, you can place each cartridge into its designated slot, until all five are positioned correctly. You can tell they are accurately positioned as there is an audible click when they are inserted properly. They are then ready to use and the cartridge unit will return to its original position out of sight.

                      The packaging on the cartridges suggests they have enough ink in them to print between 250 and 300 pages of text or 20 photos. It is easy to see how much ink is left in each one, as the printer will display the ink level or you can print out a Printer Status report to check.

                      We found no problems printing out text with the HP 364 ink cartridges as the black text came out clear and strong, with even distribution of ink throughout. It didn't smudge afterwards either nor did the print rub off onto anything else. We scanned documents and again these were lovely and clear without any problems.

                      We printed out photographs of different sizes (6x4, 7x5, 10x8) using a variety of HP photo paper, both matte and glossy, both colour and black and white. These came out really well with sharp, accurate colours and excellent clarity.

                      We printed out a 6x4 of an impressive sky my son had photographed. The colours were very accurate and printing it on glossy photo paper made it look like a postcard we had bought! Similarly, I printed out some black and white photos I had taken of actors at a Doctor Who event and these too were of a high standard and good quality images. The photos dried quickly and did not smudge or run at all on the matte photo paper, but the ink on the high-gloss paper wasn't very resistant to touch and would smear if it wasn't given the opportunity to dry.

                      The only other problem we had with the ink was when we tried printing out 6x4 photos on Canon glossy photo paper. On these, the ink did not absorb properly and parts of it rubbed off onto our fingers afterwards. So our lesson was learnt - only use HP photo paper with HP ink cartridges and an HP Photosmart printer!

                      After using the ink cartridges for three weeks, I did not notice a discernible difference between the quality of the items I printed at the start and those towards the end of the period. Just after the ink cartridges were installed, my son printed off a 95-page document which came out very well. Then yesterday, I printed out a 40-page text document and it still came out as just as high quality, so I am impressed with these cartridges and haven't found any fading yet.


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