Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
HP Deskjet F4480 multifunction printer
An HP multifunction device for users with minimal print needs
- Simple to use, low initial cost, reasonable running cost when using XL cartridges, good text quality
- Loud, poor scan quality, poor quality photo prints, cartridge replacement can be awkward, no PictBridge or memory card reader
HP's Deskjet F4480 multifunction inkjet printer is about as basic as a multifunction device can get. It can be used to print, scan and photocopy, but it only performs text printing with aplomb. It's a loud and has a small paper handling capacity. It is suited to users who only have to print every so often.
Price$ 89.00 (AUD)
HP's Deskjet F4480 is a multifunction inkjet printer for people who have a small office or work from home. It can print, scan and copy, but it lacks extra features such as a memory card reader and PictBridge.
HP Deskjet F4480 design and paper handling
The Deskjet F4480 is a simple device; the paper loads from the front, traverses the curved paper path and emerges from the front. This means that the 4480 will take up a smaller desktop footprint than printers that have a straight paper path and load paper from the back, but you still can't sit the F4480 flush against a wall — the power and data cables stick out of the back.
You can load up to 80 sheets of plain A4 paper and the printer can hold up to 15 sheets of output. In our tests, we got it to hold up to 20 pages without spilling them onto the floor. There isn’t a separate tray for the output to sit on; after it comes out of the printer it just rests atop the input tray. It's a very simple printer — you don't have to attach any wings to it, just drop and extend the flap at the front.
The Deskjet F4480 has two ink cartridges: a black cartridge and a tri-colour one. They are very easy to install; just pull down the lid, wait for the holder to come to the centre and push the cartridges into it until they spring into position. However, they can be a pain to remove because the holder moves when you apply pressure to the cartridges and you have to centre it again to make sure the cartridges can slide out of their groove.
Because the multifunction uses a tri-colour cartridge you don't have to deal with individual colour tanks, but that also means you don't have the flexibility to change individual colours. You might end up having to replace a whole cartridge even if only one colour is depleted.
HP Deskjet F4480 running costs and quality
The Deskjet F4880 is supplied with HP 60 cartridges. The cost of the standard HP 60 black cartridge is $24.32 and the tri-colour cartridge costs $28.52. Considering the printer itself costs only $89, it’s a substantial replacement cost. There are HP 60XL cartridges available, too, which cost $47.84 and $56.24 for the black and tri-colour, respectively — getting one of each will cost $15 more than the printer! For the standard cartridges, the average cost per page is approximately 29 cents, which is almost 3 cents more expensive than the standard running cost of the HP Photosmart B109a, for example, which has a higher initial outlay of $129. Using the XL cartridges, the running cost is 20 cents per page. In essence, the XL black cartridges give you three times the print capacity for less than twice the price of a standard cartridge, while the Xl tri-colour cartridge gives you just under three times the capacity for double the price.
During our tests, the standard cartridges allowed us to print our 20-page A4 test document in normal mode on plain paper, as well as 27 'best' quality 6x4in photos using HP Advanced photo paper. We didn't have to wait too long for the photos: each print came out in 28sec. The 20-page test document (which is a mixture of text pages, test patterns, images, graphs and gradients) came out at a rate of 2.1 pages per minute, with the first page out in 39sec. This rate will vary depending on the content of your pages; pages without graphics and graphs will print quicker, for example.
The quality of the text is sharp and even 6-point reversed text looked clear. Photo quality isn't great though: there is plenty of noticeable colour banding and graininess, and black areas had a slight green tinge. Photos printed on HP Advanced paper were easily smudged and scratched, and the ink came off on our fingers as we flicked through photos. However, if you just want to print out 6x4in photos to spruce up the office, the prints will be fine.
The HP Deskjet F4480's control panel.
The colour ink started running out when we printed our 26th photo and the printer just kept on printing despite one colour being depleted. The ink level indicators in the printer driver and on the printer itself don’t show individual colour levels, which is annoying. The printer’s control panel is actually very primitive. It has a single-digit LCD display for photocopying, a 4-step ink level indicator, and lights to tell you which function is currently in use. There is no full-colour LCD screen.
Initial setup of the Deskjet F4880 takes about 20min (for the software and hardware). When you install the cartridges, the printer spurts out an alignment page automatically. Along the way, the software tells you to align the cartridges, too. You only have to do this once, so don't click 'align' cartridges during the software setup. The printed page needs to be placed in the scanner for the alignment to be complete. You need to print an alignment page each time you install a new cartridge — you can't just use the same sheet.
The scan quality from the Deskjet F4880 isn’t as good as the quality we saw from the HP B109. Our test scans suffered from lots of banding and a lack of definition. Scanning books can be painful because the lid can't be raised off the scan bed to make more room for them, and the driver doesn’t have any advanced options to play with; for example, you can’t remove moire patterns from magazine scans.
Overall, the Deskjet F4480 is a basic multifunction printer that’s suitable for a small business with very light printing needs. It’s the type of printer you buy if you know you’ll only be printing one or two documents per week, instead of printing something every day. Its running cost when using standard ink cartridges is high, but it improves greatly when using XL inks. Whether you want to spend more on cartridges than you did on the printer is another story. Also, it’s darn noisy.
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