HP Photosmart C8180 color inkjet MFP

HP Photosmart C8180 color inkjet MFP

The HP Photosmart C8180 is a color inkjet multifunction printer that's designed to be a one-stop photo-processing shop rather than an office workhorse. Its wealth of features--most notably, a DVD-rewritable drive--comes at a significant cost, however.Â

Inserting photo media into one of the front slots summons the Photosmart Express menu on the control panel's LCD. You can even send an image from a Bluetooth-equipped phone. Printing options include simple album formats, various layouts, and even video-frame capture (which I didn't try). The bundled HP Photosmart Essentials software offers more tools. There's a dedicated input tray for 4-by-6-inch photo paper. The scanner platen (with an included holder for slides and negatives) digitizes hard photo media. The printer's six total inks include light cyan and light magenta, for a broader palette when printing photos.

Included is a rewritable DVD drive with LightScribe--that means it can etch a design onto one side of a LightScribe-compatible disc. You can type out a simple word label from the Photosmart C8180's control panel, or you can use the bundled Roxio Creator Basic application to create more complex images. The process is more straightforward from the MFP; in the Roxio software, the LightScribe features are buried in a submenu. The etching time varies with the complexity of the design. One note: the drive works with your PC only if the Photosmart C8180 is connected directly to the PC via USB; if it's networked via the machine's ethernet or Wi-Fi ports, you can use it only through the control panel.

The tiltable, touch-screen LCD is a highlight. Its dynamic, well-designed menus make it easy to choose a major function and drill down to adjust settings.

The Photosmart C8180's photo-handling bias means that it's not the best MFP for everyone. Despite its high price, it lacks more work-oriented features such as an automatic document feeder, faxing capability, and automatic duplexing. (Manual duplexing is possible, with helpful on-screen prompts; and HP sells an US$80 duplexing add-on.) Its 100-sheet main input tray is on the small side.

Printed images on plain paper look faded but detailed; using HP's special papers made the same images look as good as the best we've seen from other units. Copy and scan samples were good overall, as was print speed in our tests: an average of 7 pages per minute for text pages, 2.7 ppm for graphics.Â

Ink costs are reasonable: 2.3 cents for a text page, and 9.3 cents for a page with small amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. A full-color photo will use more ink.

Serious digital shutterbugs will love the Photosmart C8180's do-it-all photo processing capabilities. Everyone else should consider HP's more businesslike OfficeJet Pro L7680 or Canon's Pixma MX700, which offers a more balanced blend of photo and office features.

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