Take the HP Photosmart Premium Fax all-in-one, strip away the fax machine and auto-document feeder and you have the HP Photosmart C6380. It retains all the features you need to bring your photos to life: 9,600 by 2,400dpi flatbed scanner, dual paper feed printer, standalone copier, multipurpose card reader, and wireless networking. After a thorough testing, our only gripe is that the output quality suffers from minor hiccups and lighter saturation than more expensive printers on the market. Still, at $200, the Photosmart C6380 hits the sweet spot for the photo enthusiast who wants an all-in-one without the hassle of a fax machine.
Design and features
Compared with the rounded corners and circular shape of the Photosmart Premium Fax all-in-one, the C6380 carves out a much leaner figure. Its short stature (17.79 inches long by 15.97 inches wide by and 8.17 inches deep) and rectangular control panel across the front of the device still looks like a classic printer, but with a modern twist: a 2.4-inch color LCD pops up out of the front-left corner. The screen swivels back and forth, and you can even set it flush against the printer in a variety of positions. The onscreen menus are easy to navigate, and we especially like that the top corner of the home screen contains a small graphical representation of a cartridge that shows you when it's time to buy more ink.
Whereas other printers clutter up the control panel with unnecessary buttons and stickers, we like the C6380's simplicity. Across the front, there's a directional pad and a corresponding "OK" button, a few photo editing shortcuts like zoom and red-eye removal, direct copy and scan buttons, and a "print photos" button that pulls images directly from the card reader on the bottom of the device. There's a PictBridge compatible USB port for direct printing from a digital camera as well.
The C6380 handles inbound paper and outbound prints with dual paper trays that sit on top of one another at the base of the printer. HP continues to impress us with its dual input trays: one for standard 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper, and a separate drawer for smaller 3.5 inch by 5 inch photo paper, which eliminates the need to swap out paper. It's a huge convenience that will save you a lot of time and hassle over the course of this printer's life cycle. The driver comes setup to automatically choose the correct type of media for a particular job, but you can also manually override it to choose one yourself.
The C6380 is also equipped with 802.11b/g wireless connectivity and a small LED on the far right of the control panel indicates connection status with a green light. HP has streamlined the wireless setup process for all of its printers and the C6380 is no exception. You can either access the wireless "wizard" directly through the settings in the printer's menu or use the driver CD to set up an ad-hoc wireless connection through USB. Both ways are incredibly easy and should have you up and running on a Mac or PC in less than 5 minutes. Finally, there's an Ethernet port on the back of the printer for connecting the C6380 directly to a wired network.
In our experience, no other printer comes close to HP's full service Photosmart Essential software. The easy-to-use software takes seconds to install during the initial setup, guiding you along the photo printing process with both text and videos that clearly illustrate the directions. Photosmart Essential is exactly what casual users need as a much simpler way to edit and alter their photos, especially if they don't want to dive into dedicated (read: complicated) editing software. The rest of the driver software is straightforward and includes a small pop-up window every time you assign a job to the printer, but we wish it showed the page status of the print job in addition to the ink levels in the cartridges.
Lifting open the front cover reveals the C6380's five separate ink cartridges: one large black cartridge for photos, and the standard black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. Each standard cartridge costs $10 to replace, but HP also offers XL economy priced versions as well, which we'll use for our cost-per-page analysis. Each XL colored ink (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow) costs $18 apiece for 750 color pages and the XL photo black cartridge costs $35 for 800 pages.. With those costs, a page of color will run you 2.4 cents and a page of photo black will cost 4.3 cents. Those prices are in line with today's average cost per page for an all-in-one printer.