We've always been impressed with HP's inkjet printers, and the 950C takes consumer printing another step forward in terms of quality and speed.
Designed primarily for users who often need to print high quality images, the 950C has a maximum resolution of 2400 x 1200 dpi and features PhotoREt III and ColourSmart III. As is becoming common, a dual interface presents itself on the rear of the unit, with parallel and USB connections providing compatibility with both PCs and Macs.
Other neat features include a print cancel button which lets you stop a print job immediately, and ink level indicators on the print cartridges. Dual paper trays mean you can switch between A4 paper and 10 x 15cm photo size media at the flick of a switch. For 20 sheets of this photo size Premium Plus glossy paper, you can expect to pay around £7.
As the 970Cxi's smaller stablemate, the automatic duplex unit is but an optional extra on the 950C. Along with the new 900 series comes a range of new media, and HP's new photo paper, Premium Plus, comes in both glossy and matte flavours. This is great news for those who prefer a matte finish on their photographs and have had to put up with glossy output from their printer.
After a nasty experience with a dodgy cartridge, we found that the 950C performed faultlessly in our stringent tests. Even on plain paper, the quality was far better than other inkjets. Colours were spot on, didn't bleed, and skin tones were extremely realistic. Black text looked like it could have come out of a laser printer, and fine lines and mono images weren't a problem.
The overall score of 91% reflects an excellent overall ability on plain paper. In our text speed test, the 950C sped through at a rate of 3.4ppm in normal mode - matching up well with HP's claim of 3.6ppm in this mode.
If you're serious about photo printing, then you'll probably want to print on photo paper. We tested the new Premium Plus media and the results were incredible. Photos that looked fine on plain paper looked easily as good as silver halide photographs on this new heavyweight paper. Printing a 12 x 18 cm photograph took under three minutes on the glossy paper, and just 170 seconds on matte.
If you're concerned about the extra cost of the special paper, just remember that the standard colour paper doubles up to print both photos and colour graphics without the need to buy a separate photo cartridge.