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.
We put the HP Photosmart C6380 up against some of the fastest all-in-one printers we've tested. While it's certainly not the fastest of the bunch, it held its ground and churned out prints at a competitive speed. It couldn't beat out the HP Photosmart Premium Fax all-in-one in printing out a page of text or graphics, but it did stomp the competition in our presentation test, rolling out 4.44 pages per minute compared with the Kodak ESP5's 2.21 pages per minute at the opposite end of the spectrum. All of the printers in the running printed a 3 inch by 5 inch photo at the same general rate, but the Epson Artisan 800 remains the leader at an impressive 2.82 color pages per minute.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Photo speed (1 sheet)||Color graphics speed||Presentation speed||Color text speed|
Print quality is one of the only areas where the C6380 can use improvement. Although the output isn't the worst we've seen, it's not up to task with other all-in-ones we've tested from HP. The text prints were generally very good with a bit of stair stepping in smaller fonts, but graphics and photos were marred with a dull blue cast across the spectrum and visible without magnification. In addition, we saw significant graininess in large color blocks including portraits and shading. Overall, we're satisfied with the print quality of the C6380, and it's definitely fine for casual home users who want to print out snapshots and text, but dedicated photographers should seek out a more professional-oriented printer.
Service and support
HP backs the Photosmart Premium Fax all-in-one with its standard one-year warranty that includes 24-hour toll-free phone support with the option to upgrade to an additional two years of service for a small fee. In addition, HP offers an added Accidental Damage Protection and a Pick Up and Return program where an authorized courier will pick up your failed equipment and deliver it directly to an HP-designated repair facility. The HP Web site also features online classes, FAQs, driver downloads, troubleshooting tips, as well as a new shopping buddy that puts you in a chat room with a HP sales representative to answer your questions before you buy.
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