In high tech, you're used to the latest being the best. But these days, I'm collecting printers that came on the market in 2006! But beware, it needs special paper that HP has stopped making. See below.
I'm a photographer. Cameras are magic to me. But printers are beyond magic. In a few minutes you can go from a photo on your screen to one that you can hold in your hand. Over the years, I've been buying only HP printers, and making better and better photos. In 2006, HP announced the HP Photosmart D7360 printer. I was in love.
I couldn't believe how good the prints were (and still are). Using a specially-formulated paper called HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, HP was able to get 108 years of permanence using notoriously unstable dye-based inks. Somehow, the paper, made in Switzerland (by Ilford, I hear) absorbs the ink and protects it from UV exposure. The photos are better than what you get from a photo lab.
The 7360 uses five color ink cartridges and one black cartridge.
Unlike newer printers, HP's H02 Ink system has cartridges that can be easily refilled, and the on-cartridge chip behaves well. Put in the refilled cartridge, and the printer recognizes it as genuine and accurately tells you the level of ink in the cartridge. $16 for the whole set of ink cartridges! How good is that? Newer HP printers work hard to defeat these ink refiners. For example on new printers, a remanufactured cartridge will show as empty.
The HP 02 ink system used on the Photosmart D7360 uses dye inks. Dye inks are thin, like what you use in a fountain pen. They absorb into the paper. But the inks are easily hurt by UV light, as the photo above shows. The photo on the right uses pigment inks, which clearly have higher permanence. But that's not the entire story.
Up until 2011, HP was selling the Original HP Premium Plus Photo Paper, which had amazing properties. First, it absorbed the dye ink and protected it from UV light. The photos are glossy and beautiful, and they last and last. None of mine have faded at all. So they got the best of both worlds. The beauty of dye inks with the permanence of pigments (when using special papers)
Then HP changed their printers to use pigment inks. They no longer had to protect the ink with an expensive system to absorb and the ink and protect it from UV. Instead, they used their "Advanced Photo Paper" which had been on the market for years. This paper grabs the ink and dries quickly. It's fast, its cheap, and it doesn't last. (Note the "Instant Dry" on the right hand photo). I believe they simply switched the formula under the same brand, so they could have a much cheaper paper under the premium brand they established. Instead of coming out with a new name for a totally different product, they just switched it.
This is no small matter. Photos printed on old printers using the new paper will fade almost immediately!
This is the one you DON'T WANT: http://www.shopping.hp.com/en_US/home-office/-/products/HP-Paper/Premium-Plus-photo-paper/CR664A It's really just re-packaged HP Advanced Photo Paper . Maybe it's thicker.
This is an example of what you DO WANT: http://www.ebay.com/itm/250386369891 - Make sure you see the back where it says "Switzerland"
Using the older HP 02 dye inks, HP claims that their reformulated Premium Plus paper will last 35 years "under glass." Well, I can report that photos last about a week with no glass. People who print on a paper they trusted will not realize that what they are using is just not the same. I know this is melodramatic, but it's like a glass vendor changing out bulletproof glass for something that is merely "transparent". When those bullets come your way, it makes one hell of a difference.
So I've bought a ton of the wonderful old paper, and lots of cheap ink, and I merrily make beautiful 8 1/2 x 11 glossy prints for about $0.50 each. If I can keep finding a source for that paper from Switzerland, I'll be good to go. If not, my use of the great HP 9360 printer will have to fade like the supply of the magic paper.