For the last four or so years, specially before I got myself a digital camera (that was about two and a half years ago), every time I have a 35mm film developed I have asked for a photo-CD as well as the usual set of prints; this has made getting selected photos into my PC that much more straightforward, not to mention improving the quality dramatically over what one can usually achieve with a scanner.
This is fine for sending attachments to e-mails, or for uploading pictures to websites, but I've always found printing out usable 6"x4" glossy (or matt) prints to be a pain using most commonly available printers (I have a couple of Lexmark printers and an HP too). It's easy enough to print out photographs on A4 size paper, of course, and I have achieved very good results using both glossy and matt photographic quality paper. However, I don't always want to have A4 size prints, and positioning 4"x6" (10cm x 15cm) photo paper accurately in my printers tends to be hit or miss - in my experience.
To try and solve this problem, I've been thinking for some time of getting a dedicated 4"x6" photo printer. In recent months Kodak have been advertising widely (in the UK) their dedicated printer docks for use with Kodak Easyshare digital cameras, and as my present digital camera is made by Kodak (4MP) I have considered one of these. However, I'm thinking of changing my digital camera (or more precisely gettting an additonal one - probably 5MP or 6MP), which may well not be a Kodak. So I have concluded it would be better to get a 6"x4" photo-printer which is not dedicated to Kodak Easyshare cameras.
So this afternoon whilst in town doing some shopping I picked up an HP Photosmart 145 printer and, naturally, rushed to set it up once I returned home. It was remarkably straightforward to do this and so far I have printed several photographs using two different qualities of 4"x6" glossy photo paper - it is simplicity itself and the results are really very good, specially on the higher quality paper although the other paper produces perfectly acceptable results, too.
Some of the photographs I have printed out so far were taken using my digital camera, some using my 35mm camera and transferred onto the PC from photo-CDs. The printer itself has several slots to take the flash cards straight from most types of digital camera, but I haven't bothered to use that so far as I find it more convenient simply to upload selected photos from the camera direct to the PC and delete the rest. Altogether I think this new little printer is a worthwhile addition and will encourage me, perhaps, to keep my photograph albums more up to date than they have been in the past few years - in the UK I paid just under GBP100 (something like USD180) for the HP 145, so with the costs of paper and ink to add in it probably isn't strictly cost-effective, but in terms of convenience it is a winner. The simple ability to do this so easily at home is something that could scarcely have been envisaged only a few years ago.