Hp Photosmart C5180 All-in-one -- Review and Cartridge Choice

By: Alan Wilson

For a network-enabled multifunction printer, the HP Photosmart C5180 All-In-One is currently available for under ?100, which makes it a very interesting propos ion.

The printer uses six individual ink cartridges, HP363 which includes a light cyan and light magenta in addition to the primary three colours. The standard black cartridge contains 6ml of ink whilst the colour cartridges contain only 4ml. It is better value to buy the value pack (HPQ7966ee), which contains one of each cartridge rather than buying them individually, and if you intend to print mainly text then the large capacity black cartridge (HPC8719ee) which contains 17ml of ink is recommended.

As these cartridges are of a small volume it makes little sense to buy anything other than HP original cartridges, as the savings would be minimal, however shopping around should yield some attractive pricing.

These cartridges have been used in other printers and are now readily available, try comparing prices from HP direct with your local retailer and an online discounter like Cartcon.

The HP Photosmart C5180 has a USB port in addition to built-in ethernet, but unlike many other similarly priced multifunction devices, it doesn't have a PictBridge port. To print photos from your digital camera without using a PC, you can use one of the HP Photosmart C5180's four media slots, which between them accept all the major memory card formats.

The 2.4in colour LCD displays images from your card and lets you see the effects of various enhancements, including red-eye removal, cropping, and the use of frames. HP has divided the HP Photosmart C5180's control panel sensibly by function, placing the buttons for navigating menus and browsing images in front of the LCD.

The HP Photosmart C5180's main paper tray holds up to 100 sheets of plain paper. A second tray can hold 30 sheets of 4-by-6-inch photo paper. You slide it into place only when printing snapshots, and you can see whether it's in use through a clear window in the output tray. The flatbed scanner handles documents up to letter-size, but it lacks an automatic document feeder to handle larger sizes or multiple pages.

Film scanning capabilities are nonexistent on the HP Photosmart C5180; however, you do get HP's excellent Photosmart Premier software, which requires a lengthy installation and takes up a hefty chunk of disk space.

Photos printed by the HP Photosmart C5180 on HP's Advanced Photo Paper exhibited vibrant colours, sharp detail, and smooth tonal gradations, though some shadows looked bluish and skin tones appeared slightly unnatural. Scanning quality and copying quality were good, but not stellar, across our variety of tests. However in photos printed on plain paper, colours looked dull and shadow detail was sparse.

Text and graphics pages printed at roughly average speeds of 7.3 pages per minute and 2.8 ppm, respectively. Our 5x7in test photo printed in 45 seconds - close to the test-group average. Scans completed quickly, with our 4-by-5-inch test photo at 100 dpi taking just 7.1 seconds (only the Canon MP960 was faster, at 6.2 seconds). On the other hand, plain-paper copying averaged a slower-than-normal 2.1ppm.

The well-priced HP Photosmart C5180 has much to offer for printing photos and for sharing on a small network. It delivers high-quality glossy photos, but its plain-paper photo prints are not great.

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