My Search for the Perfect Photo Printer at OfficeMax

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Finding a High-Quality, Affordable Printer for All My Photo Needs

As an avid smartphone photographer, I take tons of photos of my family, friends, vacations, and pretty much everything else. I love being able to capture these memories digitally, but I also really enjoy being able to print and frame my best shots. There’s just something so nice about having vivid, tangible copies of your favorite photos hanging on the wall or displayed around your home.

So I decided it was time to invest in a high-quality photo printer that would allow me to easily print all my images at home. After doing some initial research online, I headed to my local OfficeMax to browse their selection of photo printers and hopefully find the perfect model for my needs and budget.

When I arrived in the printer aisle at OfficeMax, I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of photo printers available. There were simple inkjet models for under $100, all the way up to professional-grade machines costing over $500. The major printer brands like HP, Epson, Canon, and Brother were all represented. And there were multiple options for wireless printers that can connect to smartphones and tablets. Clearly, OfficeMax offers photo printers for all types of users and budgets.

As I browsed the selection, I paid attention to a few key factors to help narrow my search:

  • Print quality: I wanted sharp, vivid, realistic photos with good color accuracy. Many of the printer specs advertised things like “lab quality color” and high dpi resolutions.
  • Print speed: While not essential, faster print speeds would be nice for larger projects. The speeds ranged from about 15 seconds up to a minute per photo.
  • Connectivity: A wireless printer would provide the most flexibility to print from multiple devices. Many now use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or wireless Pictbridge.
  • Cost of ink: The ongoing cost of replacement ink cartridges is important. Some brands had cheaper standalone cartridges or multi-packs.
  • Print size: Most could print standard sizes like 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10. But I preferred models that could accommodate larger 11×14 or 13×19 prints.
  • Paper handling: I wanted a printer that could easily feed glossy photo paper, up to 8.5×11 sheets or larger sizes. An automatic sheet feeder would be a major plus.

After checking off my MUST-HAVE features and keeping budget in mind, I identified 3 strong contenders for my perfect OfficeMax photo printer:

Epson Expression Photo XP-8600

First up was the Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 inkjet printer priced at $199.99. Right away I was impressed by its sleek, compact design while still having a 5″ touchscreen for controlling printing.

This wireless inkjet model touted its “Claria Premium” inks for lab-quality prints. It could produce borderless photos up to 8×10″ and standard prints up to 11×17″ – a nice big size. The ink sets were fairly affordable at $13-$15 per color.

Speed-wise, 4×6 prints took about 45 seconds which was okay but not blazing fast. Fully wireless and compatible with Epson Creative Print mobile app were big pluses. And it came with a 1-year limited warranty.

For my home photo printing needs, the XP-8600 provided an appealing blend of quality, efficiency, and value. Definitely a contender!

HP Envy Photo 7858

Jumping up a tier in price, the HP Envy Photo 7858 was available for $249.99. HP emphasized this model’s premium capabilities for prints “virtually indistinguishable from a professional photo lab.”

It was the only printer I looked at claiming to deliver “gallery-quality” photos. The Envy also stood out with its auto 2-sided printing function to easily create photo books, albums, and presentations. Very handy!

This printer took just 30 seconds for a 4×6 print and utilized HP 300 Original ink cartridges for $13-$17 each. Borderless printing in sizes up to 8.5×11″ was supported. It had a 2.7” touch display and dual-band Wi-Fi.

For the increased price, the 7858 provided faster speeds and some unique photo-centric features from HP. But I wasn’t sure the print quality would be noticeably better than the Epson model. Still, another strong contender.

Canon PIXMA TS3522

Finally I looked at the Canon PIXMA TS3522 inkjet printer marked at $129.99. This was one of OfficeMax’s more budget-friendly photo printers while still delivering Canon’s reliable quality.

The TS3522 maxed out at 4800 x 1200 dpi resolution. A nice spec that wasn’t advertised on the other models. It took about 1 minute per 4×6 photo print.

One downside was the lack of wireless connectivity – it had to be plugged in via USB. But the Canon print app could send jobs directly through the connected device. This model also used 5 individual ink cartridges for about $16 apiece.

Overall the PIXMA TS3522 provided strong photo quality and cost savings. The lack of wireless flexibility was a drawback. But for a simple and affordable home photo printer, it remained a viable option.

Putting the Top Contenders to the Test

After deciding on my top three picks, I wanted to dig deeper before making a final purchasing decision. Luckily, OfficeMax has display models connected and paper samples on hand so customers can actually test print with potential printers. This was extremely helpful!

I brought along some JPEG photo files from my phone to try printing 4×6 snapshots with each model. The hands-on printing process helped clarify the pros and cons of each printer:

Epson XP-8600

  • Easy mobile printing from phone over Wi-Fi
  • Vibrant and realistic color reproduction
  • Slight banding visible in gradient tones
  • Average print speed as advertised

HP Envy 7858

  • Very fast batch printing with auto 2-sided
  • Dark blacks and crisp detail in shadows
  • Glossy finish almost looked too “wet”
  • Noisy mechanical operation

Canon TS3522

  • Simple plug-and-print via USB cord
  • Accurate colors and nice neutral black tone
  • Visible pixelation on angled edges
  • Slow but steady print speed

Getting to actually see and feel sample printouts made a big impact and helped me decide on the best photo printer for my specific needs.

My Final Decision – Epson XP-8600

After hand-testing the top three contenders, I ended up choosing the Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 as my new home photo printer from OfficeMax.

While it wasn’t the cheapest or the fanciest model, for $199 it provided the best mix of print quality, performance, and value in my opinion.

I loved the convenience of wireless printing from my smartphone, tablet, or computer over Wi-Fi. Photo prints had vibrant lifelike colors with sufficient detail for my family snaps. The ink costs were reasonable as well.

While not lightning fast, the print speeds were quick enough for my purposes. Borderless 4×6 or 8×10 prints gave me flexibility for multiple projects. And the compact size was perfect for my desk or shelf at home.

After a few weeks and dozens of prints, I’m still very satisfied with my XP-8600 and happy with my purchase. For amateur photographers who want great prints at home, I can definitely recommend this Epson photo printer as an ideal option. The overall combination of features, quality, and price made it the sweet spot choice from the OfficeMax lineup for my budget and needs.

Thanks to their broad selection of printers and helpful hands-on testing, finding my perfect match was smooth and successful shopping trip. I’ll surely be returning to OfficeMax for all my future photo printing supplies like glossy paper, specialty media, and ink.

Key Takeaways from My OfficeMax Photo Printer Shopping Experience:

  • They offer a wide range of brands and models spanning affordable to high-end
  • Comparing key specs like print quality, speed, connectivity, and cost of ink helped narrow selections
  • Hands-on test prints are invaluable for assessing real-world print quality before buying
  • Consider wireless capability for flexible printing from mobile devices
  • Focus on the features and performance most important for your specific needs and budget
  • For my amateur home photo printing, the Epson XP-8600 provided the ideal balance at a reasonable price point

So for any fellow photography enthusiasts needing a quality home printer, I recommend checking out the versatile photo printer options available right now at your local OfficeMax store or on their website! Let the printing begin.

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