The scan menu shows all the features we'd expect to see on an all-in-one in this price range. When scanning photos, you can scan to print or to storage, either to the PC or a media card. When scanning to a media card, you can save the file only as a JPEG. When scanning photos or documents to your computer, you can save it as a file; scan it to a number of different programs, including Word, PowerPoint, and Paint; or scan it into a viewer, such as HP's own Document Viewer or Photosmart Express (for manipulating photos). One feature we didn't find on the C7180 that we like is the ability to automatically scan the document into a number of formats, including JPEG, TIFF, or PDF. (The Pixma MP950 has this ability.) Aside from documents and photos, you can scan up to four slides or six negatives at once. The included negative scanner attachment makes it easy to know how to line up the negatives and slides correctly.
The copy features are typical and straightforward. You can make up to 50 copies at once, either by keying in the numbers directly on the keypad or by using the direction keys. You can also adjust the copy quality, reduce or enlarge, optimize for the type of original, and designate paper type and size.
Befitting the name, the Photosmart C7180 offers the most options when dealing with photos. As mentioned before, you can print directly from a PictBridge camera or memory cards, bypassing the PC. When previewing images on a memory card, you have the option of scrolling through them individually or zooming out to see a photo index view. You can scroll through the photos on the preview LCD and click OK for the ones you want to print; you can indicate how many prints you want of each image. When you're done selecting, you can select the size and the type of paper and verify your selections before printing. What this printer is missing is a feature like Canon's photo index print, which allows you to print an index of all the images on a card, bubble in the prints you want, make adjustments such as red-eye reduction, and choose the type and size of the paper. When you're through, you simply scan the index and the printer takes care of the rest. This is a much faster and less painful way to deal with memory cards that hold a lot of photos. That said, with a touch of a button on the C7180, you can attach photos to e-mail, make reprints, and enhance photos (red-eye reduction and enhanced lighting), so it's not without its charms.
The HP Photosmart C7180 is a photo-centric printer so we didn't expect fast text print speeds--it printed text at 5.28 pages per minute. For comparison, the comparably priced photo-centric Canon MP950 and Canon MP800R printed text pages at 8.86ppm and 7.97ppm, respectively. Unfortunately, we were disappointed by its photo and scan speeds, too. The HP printed 4x6 photos at 0.89ppm, whereas the Canon MP800R printed photos at 1.84ppm (the MP950 was even slower than the HP). The HP C7180 was the slowest of the three at scanning: 3.94ppm for black-and-white scans and 3.97ppm for color scans.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Color scan speed||Grayscale scan speed||Photo speed||Text speed|
In terms of print quality, the Photosmart C7180 excelled at photo prints and did a nice job with scans, but its text and graphics prints left a lot to be desired. The text had a generally fuzzy quality to it, and the edges of the characters were very jagged, even to the naked eye. Also, the text never looked truly black, more like a very dark gray. The color graphics prints suffered a similar sort of washed-out quality: none of the colors were saturated, and color blocks revealed noticeable graininess. At least the gradients were mostly smooth. On the flip side, the 4x6 photo print looked great: details were sharp, colors were bright and vibrant, and skin tones looked true. The color scan was also impressive, with true reproduction of colors and sharp details. The grayscale scan wasn't quite as good, but we still liked it for its sharpness. The only problem we noticed was a bit of compression in the dark end of the grayscale, which resulted in lost details in shadows.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Graphics on inkjet paper||Text on inkjet paper|
Service and support
HP backs the Photosmart C7180 with a standard one-year warranty. While it's 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.