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The days of "jack-of-all-trades, master of none" all-in-one printers are long gone. Today's multifunction machines scan, copy, print, and fax without making egregious sacrifices in output quality, speed, or usability. The HP Photosmart 2710 All-in-One is one such paragon compared with printers such as the . This HP prints beautiful text and photos; it copies in black and color; and it does a tolerable job of scanning. This machine's built-in standalone fax won't subject you to the rigmarole of faxing through your computer, either. What's more, the 2710 performs all of these tasks at a brisk clip, and it comes with built-in wired and wireless networking. It's considerably more expensive than the extremely user-friendly but mediocre-performing Lexmark P6250. If your budget is tight and you don't need wireless networking, check out the great instead. On the other hand, if the sky's the limit pricewise and you demand a legal-size scanbed plus two-sided printing, look to the HP OfficeJet 7410 All-in-One. But for a small wireless office or a home network with limited desk space, the HP 2710 might be just right. Most contemporary all-in-ones are cast from the same mold, and the HP Photosmart 2710 All-in-One is no exception. Measuring 18.4 by 14.6 by 8.35 inches (WDH) and weighing 18.75 pounds, it resembles a personal photocopier. Two-toned charcoal-and-silver plastics give it a sleek, professional look. HP stacks the 150-sheet input tray on top of the 50-sheet output tray; these trays protrude a discreet 3 inches from the front panel, but they're clumsier to work with than those on other printers, such as the higher-end HP OfficeJet 7410 All-in-One. The stiff, hard-to-maneuver plastic guides that slide to fit your chosen paper size, as well as the clumsy output tray, combine to make inserting paper harder than it should be--especially 4x6-inch photo paper, which requires delving into the nether reaches of the input tray.
The HP 2710 has a flatbed scanner; a roomy, full-color 3.5-inch LCD; and a control panel to switch between scan, copy, fax, and photo functions. It pairs an array of media-card slots with a port for a PictBridge-compatible digital camera. Unlike all-in-ones that are oriented more toward home users, such as the Bluetooth wireless printer adapter for $160.and the , the HP 2710 has standalone fax capabilities--handy for faxing without turning on your PC; it comes with a numeric keypad, a phone cord and jacks, plus full faxing software. In addition to USB connectivity, the 7410 also has an Ethernet port and built-in 802.11b/g wireless networking capabilities. You can buy a
You can access the HP 2710's two ink cartridges, one black and one tricolor, by opening the hood of the printer. According to vendor estimates, the two-cartridge system is less cost effective as a printer with four tanks, such as the Epson Stylus CX6600. But office users who feel overwhelmed by mounting maintenance costs will appreciate that HP sells a two-sided printing option for the 2710 so that they can at least conserve paper.The paradigm for all-in-one printers is to allow you to perform most functions, such as scanning, copying, and photo printing, from the printer's control panel, without using your PC or Mac. The HP Photosmart 2710 All-in-One takes care of those tasks, plus standalone fax jobs. The 2710's control panel displays buttons for each function, a few task-oriented keys, and Start buttons for launching color or monochrome printing, copying, scanning, or faxing. Its task keys include HP Instant Share, which lets you automatically send scanned or photo card images to an e-mail address or a networked device, plus zoom and rotate buttons and a button that prints an index page. These are quick keys, but our favorite is the 's Print Preview button, which shows your photo on the LCD before you commit it to expensive photo paper. HP includes this feature in its Image Zone editing software only, so you can preview prints only through your PC, unlike with the Lexmark P6250.
When you insert a digital media card or connect a PictBridge camera through one of the front-panel slots, the printer displays your photos on the LCD, then launches an HP Image Zone window on your computer to display image thumbnails. From the LCD photo menu, you can select image size, paper type, and layout style. You can also perform basic editing, such as correcting red-eye or sharpening or adding digital flash, a frame, or a sepia color effect to an image. If you work through your computer, HP Image Zone helps you easily organize and edit photos and make projects such as greeting cards, fliers, and brochures. Image Zone contains optical character recognition (OCR) software for scanning editable text into your computer. The program also enables you to send photos to friends or associates via Instant Share. HP gathers Image Zone, along with access to the printer's various functions and to any other HP peripherals you might have, under HP Director, an interface that shows up as a slim, horizontal window on your computer desktop.
The printer's copy function lets you choose number of copies, reduction/enlargement, and quality, plus, it performs automatic enhancements and adjusts the color intensity. When you choose the scan function, the LCD asks you to which application you want to scan the document, but if you want to change the resolution, adjust faded color, or even specify whether you're scanning text, graphics, or a photo, you must use the HP Scan software.
HP's drivers recently underwent a redesign, and the new Printing Shortcuts tab helps you tailor adjustments to match your print job. So, for example, if you choose Photo Printing, the driver shows the grayscale option and the HP Digital Photography button so that you can correct red-eye and adjust the image. Other driver tabs cover paper type and print quality, and a Services tab lets you perform maintenance, such as cleaning and aligning the printhead.Quality
The HP Photosmart 2710 All-in-One performed well on all of our tests except for scan quality, which makes this machine great for printing photos straight from a digital card or camera but less than ideal if you plan to scan and retouch yellowing snapshots from the family album. Text printed at the Normal setting (600dpi) was dark and remarkably sharp for an inkjet, and it was even better at Best quality (600dpi with HP Photo Ret enhancement); though when magnified, the edges of letters showed cyan and magenta dots.
Graphics printed in Normal mode were smooth and detailed, with excellent color matching and good contrast. Visible horizontal banding disappeared in Best mode, which also made for more evenly stepped shading. To get the best prints from this printer, we recommend using the Best quality setting and using HP's Premium Inkjet paper. You can offset the maintenance costs by printing personal or internal documents in draft mode.
Although the HP 2710 comes with just a black and tricolor ink cartridge--a six-color photo cartridge is extra--the 2710 did an excellent job printing our test photo. The level of detail was high, skin was smoothly blended with realistic tones, and dithering was barely perceptible even when viewed under a loupe.