HP Photosmart Premium Fax e-All-in-One (C410a) review: HP Photosmart Premium Fax e-All-in-One (C410a)
The HP Photosmart Premium C410a occupies the middle ground between a versatile, low-cost inkjet for the home and a high-volume multifunction for office use. It has a list price of $299, but you can find it online for $199--including direct from HP with a $100 instant rebate. It produces faster, higher-quality prints than competitive low-end all-in-one printers, and HP also includes its convenient ePrint and AirPrint technologies that let you send print jobs via e-mail and directly from Apple iOS devices. We recommend it for home offices with light-duty printing expectations or if you frequently print photos, but if you need a workhorse printer, bypass this device for the Editors' Choice award-winning Epson WorkForce 840.
Design and features
The HP Photosmart Premium C410a is of average size for a midgrade MFP, measuring 11.1 inches high, 18.4 inches wide, and 17.8 inches deep. It features one 125-sheet paper tray with a 20-sheet photo paper tray above it. In comparison, the Epson WorkForce 840's 500-sheet paper tray offers four times the capacity for busy offices that cycle through more prints.
The Photosmart Premium C410a's main paper tray can hold up to legal-size paper, and the small photo tray can hold up to 5x7 paper. A busy, high-volume office will constantly need to refill the 125-sheet paper tray, but it's highly convenient for home users to have a dedicated photo tray that saves the hassle of manually loading photo paper when alternating between document and snapshot photo prints.
On top of the printer, you'll find a 50-sheet auto-document feeder (ADF) that lets you slide in a stack of sheets for hands-free scanning, copying, or printing. The Photosmart Premium C410a also features automatic duplexing that can print on both sides of a single sheet of paper, and a button on the printer's control panel lets you easily toggle between single- and double-sided printing.
The Photosmart Premium C410a bucks the touch-screen trend, serving up a control panel littered with physical buttons. The control panel runs nearly the entire width of the printer with ample room for an organized button layout. A small, 2.4-inch status LCD sits on the left side of the control panel. The panel sits fixed at an angle, but the color LCD can tilt forward for better viewing when you're seated. To the left of the LCD on the front face of the printer are three media card slots (MemoryStick, SD, and CompactFlash) and a PictBridge USB port for direct printing from a compatible digital camera.
You'll also notice a button labeled "Print Photos" in addition to the usual buttons to initiate scans, copies, and faxes. When you attach a USB device or insert a media card, the printer will scan the drive or card for photos that you can view on the LCD and scroll through using the arrow buttons. You can also select the photos you'd like to print, perform a few basic edits if you so desire (though the small screen makes it very difficult to see how your edits affect the image), and hit the Print Photo button to output your project. Finally, the convenient automatic paper sensor will automatically draw media directly from the photo paper tray.
Installing the printer is no more complicated than installing the software and drivers from the bundled CD, and then connecting the printer to your PC or Mac using a USB cable. You'll need to supply your own for a direct connection as HP leaves it out of the box. The C410a also features Ethernet and Wi-Fi networking, and we connected it wirelessly on the printer by stepping through the setup screens, clicking on our preferred Wi-Fi network from a list, and entering our password.
You need no additional apps to print from an iPhone once you have the printer synched up to a wireless network. It also works with the iPad and iPod Touch, although we didn't test with these devices. HP calls this functionality AirPrint, and it's incredibly slick. Without the need to visit Apple's App Store, we were able to print directly from our iPhone. We printed out a photo from our iPhone photo library by simply choosing the printer, and hitting Print. You can't adjust any print properties, however, which resulted in some clipping on a square Hipstamatic photo using both letter-size paper and 4x6 photo paper.
In addition to AirPrint, the printer also features HP's ePrint technology, whereby you can e-mail the printer an attachment to print out. To set it up, hit the ePrint button on the Photosmart Premium C410a's control panel and it will print out a welcome sheet with a code that you then must enter on HP's ePrint Web site. The code then becomes the e-mail address like so: email@example.com. ePrint is a convenient feature, but it comes with a few restrictions. For one, the printer must be on and also connected to your network (you select whether anyone can e-mail print jobs to your printer or only those to whom you grant access). For another, it can't print Web pages, although you can simply copy the Web text into the body of an e-mail to get a similar page.
The printer also features HP's print apps, which let you print pages from outlets such as Financial Times, Yahoo, Reuters, USA Today. Others from DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, and Disney let you print coloring pages, paper airplane templates, and other crafts. You can also install additional free apps, but you must do so from HP's ePrint Center Web site after creating an account. It would be infinitely easier to simply download them directly to the printer. Also, the apps are much more useful on a printer with a larger LCD display.
The flatbed scanner/copier measures 8.5 by 11.7 inches, meaning it can scan or copy letter-size documents but not legal sheets. It features a 4,800 dpi resolution, and scanned and copied documents looked crisp and sharp. You can send scans to a PC, a memory card, or a USB drive. There is also an option for scanning photos to whatever paper you have in the photo tray. The front-right corner is used to align material to be copied or scanned, which is easier than other printers that make you align your pages or photos in the back-left corner. Unlike the Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901, however, the Photosmart Premium C410a's hinges do not detach, which is inconvenient when scanning or copying pages from thick textbooks.
The Photosmart Premium C410a employs a five ink-tank system (yellow, cyan, magenta, and two black cartridges). High-yield black cartridges (564XL) cost $17.99 for a rated 750 pages, and high-yield color ink cartridges (564XL) cost $22.99 for a rated 550 pages. Working with these figures, monochrome pages cost 2.4 cents a page, and color pages cost 4.1 cents a page. These numbers are roughly average for an inkjet, though the Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 uses high-yield black ink cartridges that cost only $4.99 and deliver monochrome prints at less than a penny per page. The Pinnacle Pro901 also boasts a low 3.2-cents-per-color-page figure.
In lab testing, the HP Photosmart C410a proved itself an above-average performer across all four of our speed tests among multifunction printers (MFP) in its price range. On our speed tests, it produced just over eight pages of monochrome text, four pages of color graphics, and just over six PowerPoint slides per minute. Those speeds trailed the performance of the Epson WorkForce 840, our Editors' Choice for this category, but outpaced similarly priced MFPs such as the Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901. It also clearly outclassed an entry-level, two-tank MFP, the HP Photosmart D110a, which shows the performance you gain as you scale up HP Photosmart line.
The Photosmart C410a also produced 1.35 4x6 photos per minute; we think anything over 1 4x6 photo per minute is respectable, and even the highly rated WorkForce 840 failed to hit that mark.
The Photosmart C410a's speed does not come at the expense of quality. It produced crisp, dark black text, which was clearly superior to the Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901's text quality. Color graphics and photos exhibited accurate colors, though we found that copies of photos, come out slightly blurry. That said, we recommend simply reprinting a photo from its digital source if you need another copy.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Black Text (PPM)||Color Graphics (PPM)||Photo (PPM)||Presentation (PPM)|
Service and support
HP backs the Photosmart C410a with its exclusive enhanced support services: a dedicated toll-free number, troubleshooting over online chat with an HP expert, and a one-year warranty that guarantees repairs with "Next-Day Business Turn Around" and offering brand-new replacement units for the first 30 days after purchase.
In addition, HP offers an added Accidental Damage Protection and a Pick-Up-and-Return program that sends an authorized courier to pick up your failed equipment and deliver it directly to an HP-designated repair facility.
You can find more warranty information by visiting the HP Support Web site that also features online classes, FAQs, driver downloads, and troubleshooting tips, as well as a new shopping buddy that puts you in a chat room with an HP sales rep so you can ask questions before you buy.
For a home office that needs copy, scan, and fax functions, the HP Photosmart Premium C410a offers crisp speeds and output. Its low-capacity paper tray limits its appeal for high-volume offices, but HP's ePrint and AirPrint features make it a worthwhile option for home users.
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