Several months ago, I bought a couple HP photo book kits. They make nice gifts and people really seem to like them. I had been buying the Epson photo book kits or going to CVS Pharmacy and having them do the books-which, by the way, are very nicely done and not overly expensive. Over the weekend, I decided to make one of the HP photo books.
Now, mind you, I have TWO HP computers-a desktop and a laptop-and I also have an HP all in one printer. The software I was going to use was the included HP Photosmart Essentials 2.5, which came with the book kit, the printer AND on both computers. So…one would think every should work correctly, right? HA! I picked out the photos and selected the format and layout. I get the photos laid out the way I wanted and then tried to print a draft of the first couple pages to make sure everything was correct before wasting any of the good photo paper.
So, I click print and wait. After a minute, I am greeted with an error message telling there was an error with the printer. So, I double check everything, power cycle the printer and try again. Same thing. So, then I moved the project over to the laptop and try there. Same problem. At that point, I go online to look for the problem. Of course, HP’s ever so helpful website provided no answers. I don’t know why I even bothered. I don’t think I have ever found any helpful information there. The user forums were also devoid of any help.
I turn to Google and came up empty. Surely, I am not the only one who has this problem. I had noticed that there was a version 3.5 that specifically stated it was for XP and Vista. So I install that. Same result. Frustrated, I remembered I still had the Epson software, which always worked with my HP printers. So, I found one of the discs and installed the software. I then set out to recreate the book. The Epson software was far more flexible than the Photosmart software. I could include nearly double the photos. I didn’t do that, but I did add several more photos to make the book a bit more inclusive.
I finished up the book and then printed a couple of test pages. They printed without a hitch. I loaded up the photo paper that came in the kit and then printed the book. It took about seven minutes to print the ten page book, but the quality was really, really nice. I’m certainly glad I hung on to that Epson software. It was easy to use and installed quickly and easily. The software, called Epson Story Teller Publisher, is available from the Epson website and I highly recommend it.
I’m a fan of HP hardware, but its software offering leaves much to be desired. The Essentials package tends to crash, anytime I insert a memory card or connect a device with photos, the Essentials package pops up and tries to import the material. Inevitably, it crashes. And that software was PRE-INSTALLED on this Vista Home Premium 64 bit machine. HP update NEVER, EVER works. And the bloody ‘health check’ will not go away. I deleted the damn executable and it came back! I finally got rid of it on my desktop by uninstalling all of the HP crapware except the Photosmart stuff, which I am now thinking it needs to go as well.
The HP photobook kit, however, was nice. It included an easy to use cover and quality photo paper. To insert the pages, you pulled the front and back cover backward, so the ends touch, and then slide the paper in the binding. When you release, the pages are nice and snug. It also makes it easy to add or remove pages. The kits were about two dollars each, but I bought them at Circuit City as they were going out of business. They normally sell for $19.99 for 8×10 version.