Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Pro B9180

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Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Pro B9180
  • Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Pro B9180
  • Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Pro B9180

Pros

  • Colour calibrator, pigment-based inks, HP Printer Utility allows you to install custom paper profiles directly into the printer's driver, excellent prints with colours coming out almost perfect

Cons

  • It sometimes crimps one end of very thick paper when fed through the manual-feed slot

Bottom Line

Try as we might, we couldn't come up with any significant defects in the HP Photosmart Pro B9180. The only thing we didn't like is how the printer can sometimes crimp one end of very thick paper when fed through the manual-feed slot. While we think there are definite reasons for purchasing some of the higher-priced Epson and Canon printers -- roll support, larger paper sizes, higher-production print runs -- the B9180 sits at an amazing price point for what you get. Combine the great print quality with any two of its standout features -- closed-loop calibration, sturdy construction, smartly designed software, broad media support, efficient ink life, archival print quality -- and you'd have a very good printer, indeed. But when you wrap them all up into the package that is the HP Photosmart Pro B9180, you have a great professional-quality photo printer that's priced around $1499.

Would you buy this?

True colour

The HP Photosmart Pro B9180 has two features under the hood that will appeal to photographers and artists who are serious about their printed images: a colour calibrator and pigment-based inks.

The most important of the two features is the HP Photosmart Pro B9180's closed-loop calibration system. This is a simple densitometer built into the printhead mechanism that measures the colour values of a self-printed target. This process takes approximately 15 minutes: as it prints, the densitometer compares the newly printed target with the original colour values, which were stored in the printer at the factory.

If it detects any differences, the HP Photosmart Pro B9180 automatically recalibrates. What this means is that you'll get predictable, reproducible colour from print to print. Epson has been providing this for years in their high-end photo printers, but this is a first for a printer at this price.

To produce those calibrated images, the HP Photosmart Pro B9180 utilises eight pigment inks -- cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta, yellow, light grey, and matte and photo black -- each with its own dedicated cartridge.

Like most pigment-based printers, the HP Photosmart Pro B9180 uses one less ink colour when printing. For papers with glossy and semi-gloss finish, the HP Photosmart Pro B9180 automatically uses the photo black ink; when printing on non-glossy and fine-art paper, it switches to the matte black ink. Thankfully, you don't have to swap the matte and photo black ink cartridges out of the B9180 when you change paper types; doing so wastes valuable ink.

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