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HP Photosmart C4180

Multifunction Printers Under $150
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Since its PSC line of multifunction machines is now gone, HP has renamed all its consumer-level multifunctions "Photosmart." That really doesn't change much on paper, of course. The Photosmart C4180 boasts an all-new design - and quite attractive it is, too - but uses the same printing technology as older models, which is not necessarily the best news of the year.

Ergonomics And Design

The Photosmart C4180 is the successor to the Photosmart 2575, one of HP's best-selling models, but its design is a lot more attractive. The organization of its controls is close to that of the Epson Stylus CX6000. The display and buttons are all located to the left of the unit, but here the display is a full 2½ inches and has excellent image quality. The buttons are well organized and provide immediate access to the basic functions. A flap on the side opens to reveal a removable loading tray for 4x6 paper; when you want to print photos in that size, you just insert the tray into the paper loader and the driver automatically finds the right paper. It's fairly practical, even though we prefer the system with two independent loaders used on the Pixma MP510. The only big surprise with the Photosmart C4180 is that HP has simply forgotten to include a PictBridge connector. That's not necessarily a big deal, since there are memory card slots, but it's still surprising on a consumer-oriented model.

Print Quality

As with most models using combined cartridges, output quality ranges from average to very good with the Photosmart C4180. Quality is average if you use only the two basic cartridges, the one with black ink and the one with the three primary colors; photos were fairly grainy and showed some dottiness. If you replace the black cartridge with the one dedicated to photo work, however, the resulting images are very high in quality, but with the tradeoff of higher cost. As for text mode, results were excellent all around, including, and above all, in draft quality, which was sometimes better than some competitors' standard quality.

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