Hewlett-Packard Australia Photosmart Pro B9180
- 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
- It sometimes crimps one end of very thick paper when fed through the manual-feed slot
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 $1499.
Price$ 1,499.00 (AUD)
HP has supplemented the HP Photosmart Pro B9180 hardware with an excellent suite of printing and maintenance software tools. At the top of the list is a plug-in for printing directly from within Adobe Photoshop.
The plug-in offers a real-time preview of your image and lets you choose paper type, colour profile, print size, borderless options, and more from within a single window. This is the way photo printing should be, and it's a joy to use.
In addition to the plug-in, HP includes an application, HP Printer Utility, that is the dashboard for interacting with the HP Photosmart Pro B9180. The program includes realistic indicators of remaining ink capacity and useful help screens, as well as facilities for cleaning the printheads (which we never needed), printing test pages, and applying the closed-loop calibration test.
The HP Printer Utility also lets you install custom paper profiles directly into the HP Photosmart Pro B9180's driver. While being able to use custom colour profiles for a specific paper type is nothing new, HP takes most of the mystery out of it and makes it easy, letting you add your new profile directly to the paper-type menu.
There is also an application for printing photos, HP Photosmart Edit, but, given the HP Photosmart Pro B9180's target audience, we think most people will be using Photoshop or a similar program to print. One nice feature of HP Photosmart Edit, however, is for converting colour images to greyscale -- it offers a set of black-and-white transformations that mimic traditional camera filters. Photoshop's Channel Mixer has a much more sophisticated set of tools for this process, but we got good results with Photosmart Edit.
HP's manual is very instructive in helping you get the best out of the HP Photosmart Pro B9180, discussing profiles, print types, and how to use the print driver's built-in colour features as opposed to using Photoshop's colour features. Anyone new to pigment-ink printers or looking to expand their Photoshop printing knowledge will find the manual very helpful.
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