The scan menu differentiates between scanning documents and photos. When scanning a document, you can open the scan in a number of HP utilities including the HP Document Viewer or Photosmart Express, as well as save it as a file, attach it to an e-mail, or open it in a program such as Paint. When scanning photos, you can do all of the above, as well as save it to a memory card or reprint the photo.
Printing from a memory card presents the most options. The dedicated Photosmart Express button lets you view and print photos from a media card, reprint photos by scanning them, save photos from a media card to your PC, and share the photos over a network connection. The Photo Fix button lets you toggle between on and off. If you turn Photo Fix on, it will automatically optimize photos by reducing red-eye and enhancing lighting, contrast, and sharpness. Additionally, when previewing the contents of a memory card, you can zoom in on a picture or zoom out to view multiple pictures at once. What you can't do is print the contents of a media card as a photo index sheet. This feature is common on Canon's photo-centric printers (such as the MP450). It allows you to print the contents of a card, bubble in the ones you want printed (as well as designate number of prints and type of paper), and scan the sheets to print only the images you designate. This tool is especially handy if you have a lot of photos on a card and don't want to click through them one by one.
One odd feature we noticed--and were endlessly amused by--is the ability to print so-called school documents: lined paper (both college rule and wide rule), graph paper, and a task list. Clearly, doing so is more expensive than just buying a pack of lined paper, but in a pinch, this is a useful tool. HP even got the colors right: the blue of the horizontal lines and the magenta of the single vertical line on the left.
The Photosmart C5180 uses a six-ink system, with individual ink cartridges, a feature we like because it's cost effective--just replace each color as it runs out. It uses the standard cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK), plus a light magenta and light cyan. The same ink is used for regular and photo prints, so you don't have to switch tanks for different task. The tanks are easy to swap out and the print head is prelabeled, so you know which tank goes where. The 10mL replacement black tank costs $18, while the 4mL color tanks cost $10 each. (The printer ships with a 16mL black tanks and 4.5mL color tanks.) The HP Photosmart C5180's speed is about what we expect from a photo all-in-one in this price range. It printed text at a rate of 5.17ppm, a bit slower than the Canon MP500. It was pretty quick with photos, printing 4x6s at a rate of 0.56ppm. The Canon also scored a 0.56ppm for photo printing, but that was for 8x10 photos. The C5180 is a quick grayscale scanner at 7.8ppm, but it slowed down for color scanning--3.68ppm. Because it doesn't have an automatic document feeder, we can't test copy speed.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Copy speed||Color scan speed||Grayscale scan speed||Photo speed||Text speed|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Graphics on inkjet paper||Text on inkjet paper|
The Photosmart C5180 also showed decent print quality. We didn't expect much from its text prints (photo inkjets tend to have mediocre text quality), but it surprised us. Text was well formed and mostly clean, with minor jagginess marring the page, and it was legible down to very small point sizes. The color graphics print looked good, too: the text was about the same as on the text-only page, and colors were well replicated. We saw some minor banding in color gradients, but the grayscale gradient was smooth. We did see some graininess in color blocks, though. The photographic elements on the page were just slightly washed out. The same applies for the photo print. It showed solid detail and realistic colors, but overall, it had a slightly flat, dull quality to it. Still, it should suffice for the snapshots. Both grayscale and color scans were sharp, with good details. The colors in the color scan were off, though. Overall, the Canon MP500 showed better print quality, particularly with photos. Colors were bright and true, and the prints showed excellent detail. HP backs the Photosmart C5180 with a standard one-year warranty. While under warranty, you can get free, toll-free phone support 24/7. HP's Web site has downloadable drivers, software, and manuals; e-mail tech support; online chat with tech support; FAQs; and a troubleshooting guide.