A reasonably priced, home hobbyist multifunction printer, the HP Photosmart C5180 All-in-One performs well and is fast enough for basic printer needs. Its one major fault is the lack of a PictBridge port for printing directly from a digital camera--a must for any photo-oriented home printer. The $199 printer also has limited paper handling options and no fax function, but its overall print quality will satisfy anyone who wants to print snapshots. Still, for about the same price, the Canon MP500 provides more features, faster speeds, and better print quality. The HP Photosmart C5180 is reasonably compact for a photo all-in-one with a flatbed scanner. Its glossy white-and-light-gray body measures 17.6 inches wide, 15.2 inches deep, and 7.4 inches tall, and weighs only 21 pounds. The scanner accepts original documents to as large as A4 size. The scanner lid tends to drop back down unless you push it all the way open, and its hinges don't lift to accommodate thick books or documents. Four media card slots accept most major types of media cards, though you'll need adapters for some of them. Noticeably absent from this photo-centric printer is a PictBridge port for direct printing from a digital camera. The vast majority of photo printers in this price range include the port (such as the Canon Pixma MP500), as do some office-oriented single-function printers such as HP's own Deskjet 6940.
Another drawback is the Photosmart C5180's limited paper handling options. A single tray in the front handles both input and output. The input tray can hold paper as large as legal size and can fit about 100 sheets of plain paper. Just above the main paper tray sits a smaller tray specifically for 4x6 photo paper. Both input trays pull out partially for easy paper loading. While it's nice to be able to have both plain and photo paper loaded and ready at all times, a secondary input tray would go a long way to reduce the hassle of removing the plain paper when you want to print on a different type of paper such as cardstock, transparencies, or larger-size photo paper. The output tray sits above the input tray and features an extender that corrals long pages. The printer lacks a rear output for straight pass-through--a convenient feature if you do a lot of printing on heavy paper such as cardstock.
The control panel is mounted along the front edge of the printer. A 2.4-inch, color LCD lets you navigate the menus and preview photos before printing. The LCD pivots through a 90-degree range, which lets you optimize viewing. The long row of buttons allows you to initiate a number of tasks directly from the printer. Each function--copy, photo print, and scan--has a dedicated menu button from which you can make various changes. The menus are intuitive and easy to navigate using a four-way rocker button, an OK button, and a dedicated back button that lets you back out of menus.
You can connect the printer via USB to a single PC or via Ethernet on a network. Though it doesn't have wireless capability built-in, you could also connect it to a wireless router or a print server for a shared wireless connection. Even better, the Photosmart C5180 supports both Windows and Mac PCs, so if your household has mixed allegiances, everyone can share nicely. Each function of the HP Photosmart C5180 has a number of options that let you personalize your tasks, though the options aren't as extensive as those on other printers. The copy menu lets you resize, change the copy quality, specify number of copies (up to 99), as well as crop, designate paper size and type, and enhance copies according to the type of original (text, photo, or mixed). What we didn't find was the ability to do 2-on-1 or 4-on-1 copies. Also, the printer lacks a duplexer; if you want double-sided prints or copies, you'll have to do it manually.