At $400, the Photosmart C8180 sits in Hewlett-Packard's lineup as one of its most expensive All-in-One (AIO) players. This printer, scanner, and copier has a suite of features for the amateur photo enthusiast that includes a touch-screen display, built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity, a slide scanner, and a dual paper feed tray, but it's not without a few missteps. The photo quality is better than average and the hardware is well-designed, but the lack of an auto-document feeder (ADF) and painfully slow print speed prevent us from giving this otherwise excellent printer an Editors' Choice award.Design and features
The design of the C8180 is similar to the rest of the printers in the Photosmart series, but this particular model has a few notable hardware additions that you won't find in most All-in-Ones. Unlike most printers, the C8180 has a swiveled touch screen that lets you control all the software functions including photo editing, wireless setup and management, and scanning jobs. The touch screen eliminates button clutter and frees up the rest of the front panel for simple buttons that control one-touch red-eye removal as well as a few others for start, stop, and cancel. The front of the C8180 also has a memory card bay with slots for Compact Flash, xD, SD/MMC, and Memory Stick cards.
Although HP flaunts the C8180 as a full-featured AIO for the home and office, it lacks a fax machine and an auto-document feeder that you can find on other AIOs for less money. You'll also notice a unique hardware feature on the front of the C8180: a LightScribe drive that lets you archive your data directly from a USB key or an external memory card to a CD/DVD. We're not disputing its utility, but we wish HP could have found a way to include the drive alongside an ADF and fax instead of omitting them entirely. In either case, we must compliment HP on the build quality and design of the C8180. The rounded corners and silver/white overlay contribute to its overall appeal; this printer will look great alongside any desk setup.
You have three options for connecting your computer to the printer: wired via the included USB cable, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi. We can confidently state that the Photosmart C8180 is the easiest Wi-Fi printer we've used to date. Other printers make you pour through pages and pages of instructions and ultimately force you to set up the connection via an ad-hoc network, but the C8180 distills the process down to a simple pairing between the printer and your computer. In fact, there are no onscreen instructions; you set everything up through the digital LCD on the faceplate itself. From open box to first print, the entire Wi-Fi setup took less than 5 minutes.
Another unique feature to the C8180 is its dual paper input tray. This is bound to be one of those, "Why didn't we think of that?" headaches for HP's competitors, and it really is genius--the C8180 has two separate paper trays: one for larger 8.5-by-11 inch paper and another for smaller 4-by-6-inch media. This small hardware addition saves time and desk space by allowing the user to manually select which paper tray will spool from the device, but most of the time the C8180 will choose automatically depending on the job.
The C8180 uses six separate ink cartridges (black, light cyan, light magenta, cyan, magenta, and yellow) and each has its own dedicated bay underneath the hood. We're happy to see that each cartridge is easily replaceable at a fairly reasonable price. Even though each color costs the same, the page yields vary immensely, so for our calculations we used black and yellow, which apparently yield the most pages. A black ink cartridge costs $18 and will yield 660 pages, which comes out to 2.7 cents per page and a yellow cartridge costs $10 for 490 pages, or 2 cents a page. Both are reasonable for a photo printer at this price.
The C8180 printed much slower in all three of our test categories compared with other printers in the same price range. The discrepancy is most obvious in photo prints--the HP printed almost half a page per minute slower than our other test subjects, including the Brother MFC-685cw, an AIO that lost major points for its slower-than-average print speed. Even the Brother beat our HP by a full page per minute in photos, averaging about 1.3 ppm, while the HP trudged in at a meager .66 ppm.