HP Photosmart C8180 All-in-One
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.
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.
|Photo (ppm)||Presentation (ppm)||Text (ppm)|
Thankfully, there's more to be said for the HP's photo quality than its print speed. The text documents we tested on the C8180 came out very clear with bright, outstanding colors and dark black lines. The color spread came out even with zero fuzziness or jagged edges, even at smaller points. The printer also produced very pleasing 4x6-inch photos with accurate color reproduction in skin tone and an even hue across the page. Some of the lighter colors appear undersaturated, even on HP's own Premium Glossy Photo Paper, but overall these prints will satisfy some of the most nitpicky photo enthusiasts.
Like many of the printers in HP's Photosmart series, the C8180 produces better quality color scans than grayscales. We noticed a significant amount of compression in the grayscale scans with serious gradation issues at the dark end of the spectrum. This problem is almost nonexistent when scanning color prints, where we were actually impressed with the level of evident detail and representation.
Service and support
HP includes its standard one-year warranty with the Photosmart C8180, which includes 24 hour toll-free technical support and the option to upgrade to an additional two years of HP Accidental Damage Protection as well as access to its unique Pick Up and Return program. HP's Web site also has easy-to-use features including online classes, FAQs, driver downloads, and troubleshooting tips.
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