Hewlett-Packard Photosmart C5180

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Hewlett-Packard Photosmart C5180

Pros

  • Vibrant colour in photo prints, well-priced, built-in Ethernet connection, 2.4in colour LCD screen

Cons

  • PictBridge support is lacking, black looked slate-grey in our tests, colours looked dull on plain paper

Bottom Line

The well-priced 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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For a network-enabled multifunction printer (MFP), the HP Photosmart C5180 All-In-One carries an attractive price of $299. It has a USB port in addition to built-in Ethernet, but unlike many other similarly priced MFPs, it doesn't have a PictBridge port. To print photos from your digital camera without using a PC, you can use one of the 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 control panel sensibly by function, placing the buttons for navigating menus and browsing images in front of the LCD.

The main paper tray holds up to 100 sheets of plain paper. A second tray can hold 30 sheets of 4x6in 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; however, you do get HP's excellent Photosmart Premier software, which requires a lengthy installation and takes up a hefty chunk of disk space.

The C5180 uses six individual ink cartridges, including light cyan and light magenta in addition to the three primary colors. The black ink looked slate-grey in our text prints, though characters were quite sharp. Our line-art sample had a bluish cast, but we saw very little banding, and lines remained distinct, even in small point sizes. In photos printed on plain paper, colours looked dull, and shadow detail was sparse. However, photos printed 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.

The C5180 chalked up moderate scores in our speed tests. Text and graphics pages printed at roughly average speeds of 7.3 pages per minute (ppm) and 2.8ppm, respectively. Our 5x7in test photo printed in 45sec -- which is close to the average speed we were expecting. Scans completed quickly, with our 100dpi, 4x5in test photo taking just 7.1sec. On the other hand, plain-paper copying averaged a slower-than-normal 2.1ppm.

The well-priced 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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