* Prices may differ from that shown
Working as a teacher giving private lessons, I needed both a reliable printer and a photocopier. This all-in-one looked like it would fit the bill. It was a reasonable price, the HP brand is well known and it had received good reviews on the web.
The manual was easy to follow and the printer was straightforward to set up. The printer connected to WI-FI without any complications.
Printing: Being a wireless printer, it is fantastic being able to print from our laptops, tablets and mobile phones without having to be in the same room and having to plug and unplug cables. There is a choice of print quality: Best, normal or draft. I usually choose the draft setting, which is good enough to print a readable document. The quality with the normal setting is very good. I never need to use the best setting. I love the fact that you can set it to print on both sides, thus saving paper.
Copying: It works just like a photocopier. You place what you want to copy face down on the glass, select the quality and whether you want both sides printed and press start. Unlike a photocopier there is no facility to place a pile of paper in a tray to copy, you have to copy one piece at a time.
Scanning: At the beginning this worked great using HP scanning software. Unfortunately on updating the software on my Apple mac meant that this became obsolete. It is still possible to scan documents, however only a single page at a time using the Apple software. I am hoping that HP releases an update to for the latest mac operating system.
Ink cartridges: It requires, a photo, a black and three colour ink cartridges. You only have to replace the individual cartridge when it runs out, not all of them. Like all printers the ink cartridges can work out expensive. I try to reduce the cost by only printing when necessary and printing on the draft setting. Doing this means the ink does last a reasonable time.
Overall: An excellent buy. Reliable and a piece of cake to operate.
Printing is often one of those banal, day-to-day activities which brings little satisfaction and is at its best when it is a hassle-free experience. It barely even warrants thinking about, except when things go wrong. Which is why I love the HP Photosmart, because it actually makes printing interesting.
I've had a lot of printer problems in the past; my last printer copped it on the hand in day of all my university coursework - not helpful. It served me well for a while but being a cheaper make, it was often clunky and in the end refused to print in black despite having a full ink cartridge. This is where the HP Photosmart showed up and saved the day.
They are not the cheapest printers around, neither are they the most expensive, but this printer has a lot going for it. The print quality is excellent (much better than the cheaper printers I have had in the past, which left ink smudges all over the paper), photo quality is good, and even the print speed is reasonably quick. There's nothing more boring than sitting around waiting for fifty pages to print, so I find this a big bonus.
Scanning and copying is all very simple, even for the more techno-phobic out there. I'm a bit blonde, and I can work the thing so I'm happy. Plus, it's touch screen, and this is where I get excited. It's very accurate, quick to respond, and the instructions are easy to follow. I was particularly pleased when I could use the screen to discover the ink levels, without even having to turn the computer on - yay!
Ink is relatively cheap too, if you know where to get it from. I use Amazon and buy a combo pack (colour and black) for just over twenty pounds - most places charge over thirty. As long as you use a trusted seller (such as Amazon itself rather than private sellers), the ink is fine, and you haven't been ripped off. Bonus!
An all round good printer, trusted, and even a little exciting!
I bought this printer about six months ago. I don't need to do a huge amount of printing but I regularly need to be able to do a little bit, reliably. The HP photosmart is a wireless all-in-one printer that covers all I need and more - as well as basic printing, it can copy and scan documents and print photographs as well.
Printing: I find the printing quality absolutely fine in black and white or colour. I usually use the fast/economical print option as don't usually need a very good finish, and I find that perfectly good for me. The printing speed is not terribly fast, so if you were doing a large print job it would take a while. However, for smaller scale printing it's perfectly snappy enough!
Scanning: I've scanned several documents to my PC from the printer no problems at all. It seems very easy to follow from the HP software installed on my PC.
Copying: easy as pie and decent quality. You can make black and white or colour copies and use the touch screen on the printer to specify how many copies you want.
Ink cartridges: the printer uses HP 364 cartridges, with separate cartridges for each colour. As I mentioned, I don't do a huge amount of printing - possibly averaging about 10 pages a week (mostly B&W) and I'm only just running out of the (tiny half full!) black cartridge that came with the printer 6 months later.
Touch screen: you can do most operations on the printer using the little touch screen menu on the front. I find this very easy and intuitive to follow.
Wireless: I find it very handy to have a wireless printer, especially as our computer is in the living room. This means I can tuck the printer out of the way in another room in our flat. There has been one time where it said the signal was weak, but then this actually had no detrimental effect on the function!
Photos: haven't actually tried this so can't comment.
Installation: I managed to install this without help so it must be pretty easy! It has magically uninstalled itself on one occasion for no apparent reason, but I just reinstalled it and haven't had a repeat problem. Other than that very reliable.
ALL IN ONE OR NONE FOR ALL?
With space at a premium in our household, finding a compact, high-functioning all-in-one home office device that does more than just go through each of its motions is something of a challenge. As a fan of hi-fi separates, I am a firm believer in specific tools for specific jobs, so I am not easily convinced that a combination printer, scanner and copier can be a master of all of its trades.
Ideally, such a device should provide high quality photo and document printing, a variety of inputs, true wireless capability, ease of use and truly innovative and practical functionality (as opposed to gimmicks and gadgets that barely get a run-out - admit it, how many of those washing machine programmes do you ACTUALLY use?). That's a tall order, and with an already perfectly adequate (and sometimes exceptional) Canon MP640 nestling in my home office, a few months back, I was offered an HP Photosmart Premium e-All-In-One C310 for free, and the opportunity was way too good to turn down.
I will deliberately try to keep stats (such as pages printed per minute, resolutions etc.) out of this review, and concentrate instead on the experience of using the machine (in any case, these stats and technical specifications are readily available here - http://tinyurl.com/6ju5a48 - on HP's official site for those who dig that sort of stuff)
GETTING UP & RUNNING
The printer arrived in a sturdy branded box from HP, and the surprises started as soon as I started unpacking. HP have gone to great lengths to make the packaging as eco-friendly as possible, using a re-usable shoulder bag and a zip up pouch to enclose the printer and its bits respectively. Whilst neither will be gracing a Milan catwalk, there is a little bit of geeky chic about them.
As with most of these devices, removing it from the box is a two-person job, mainly due to bulk rather than weight. It took a few minutes to peel off all of the protective films, locate the two-piece power cable and get it up and running. The printer comes with an adjustable touch-screen display (a nice step-up from the scroll wheel I am used to using on my Canon) which guided me through the whole set-up process, which was simply and clearly explained. This included installation of the cartridges (which, in common with other manufacturers are not full capacity out of the box), paper, print head calibration, wireless connection to my router and wireless test report. The time from unpacking to getting the printer ready for operation took, at most, ten minutes.
The printer is wireless, which means it can be sited almost anywhere in the house and run off the home network - all you have to do is to find the space for its not inconsiderable 18"x12" footprint (with the paper tray sticking out an additional six inches at the front). For those who prefer a "hard" connection, the printer has a USB 2.0 input, but you will need to source your own cable as one is not provided. A CD-ROM set up disk is included, along with brief "getting started" type instructions in booklet form (offered in a plethora of European languages), so between these and the pictorial guide for cartridge replacement sited next to the printer carriage, HP seem to have all of the bases fully covered.
They even provide a handy wallet sized card with details of the print cartridges the unit uses. Installation of the drivers and software is fairly straight-forward, if a little time-consuming. I still have a fully working HP Photosmart 8250 and little seems to have changed in loading times - the initial software set-up still seems to take an age (over 20 minutes). The touch screen takes a little getting used to, and is probably a little too unresponsive for my liking, but once you get the hang of it (i.e. understand its foibles) it seems to get easier to use.
INNOVATIVE OR DERIVATIVE?
One of the unique features of the unit and ostensibly one of the reasons for the "e" prefix in its name, is the ability to access web services directly from the touch-screen via a number of branded "apps". These include a variety of content such as kid-orientated stuff from Disney, DreamWorks, and Crayola (ex. colouring and games that can be printed off) to practical travel guides, weather forecasts and access to HP's Snapfish and Google's Picasa web-based photo services. It's a nice touch, though I have yet to make it a first destination for such information, preferring instead to use my laptop or desktop PC, whose screens provide much more space for editing and viewing.
You can check for updates and new applications direct from the touch screen and download them to the unit, however, choose a quiet time to do this as the update process can take awhile, and you can't power off or use the C310 while it is underway. The unit provides a handy countdown during the update process, but it is prone to "hanging" so isn't very accurate. In my limited experience, it can take two or three tries to get it to update properly.
Another reason for the funky prefix is the ability to print to the C310 "anywhere, anytime... even on the go" - HP's words, not mine, but a very good précis of a key selling point. In order to enable the functionality, you access the web address provided, add your printer using a unique code provided during the set-up process (this is only valid for 24 hours, but a new one can be generated at any time), and then set up an "allowed sender's list" to identify the e-mail addresses that can use the unit to print. You can then print by sending an e-mail, with the document or photo to be printed as an attachment, to a designated e-mail address. Unfortunately, you can't customise the e-mail address after registration, and as it is a series of hard to remember random letters and numbers, HP seem to have missed a trick. The system itself works remarkably well - the unit knows when you are sending a photo or document and prints from the appropriate tray.
Of course, the downside is that you need to make sure you have enough of the right paper loaded in the right tray, otherwise you could end up printing a fifteen page document onto A4 photo paper. I have found this feature especially useful to print straight from my Blackberry, without the fuss of transferring photos or documents from one device to another. Photos dry practically instantly (the exception seems to be deep, concentrated blacks which are prone to smudging if handled too early), so there is no danger of one sticking to another if you give it multiple print jobs.
That said, not everything will print. Several jobs I sent by e-mail from my work PC (graphics rich presentations and large photos) exceeded the 5MB (or ten attachment) size limit, but generally, most documents seem to come through fine (I have had some issues with sizing - especially with Excel or similar spreadsheet applications). You can use the web-based print centre to keep track of what has printed and what has been discarded, but HP send a confirmation to the source e-mail address either way.
BACK TO THE DAY JOB...
The paper/photo trays are at the bottom of the unit. The lower compartment is accessed by lifting off the smaller, photo-specific tray, and can accommodate around 125 sheets of A4 paper or photo paper. The upper compartment uses photo paper only and takes around twenty pages of varying sizes, up to a maximum of 5"x7". You can set it to print duplex (both sides of the paper) and it does so by printing one side, spitting out the paper, and then pulling it back in to do the other side.
Print quality on documents is very good with no sign of bleed on decent quality paper, but as with most ink-jets, it's best to let the ink dry for a few seconds before handling, otherwise it is prone to smudging. Likewise, with photo printing, colour reproduction, saturation and detail are very nicely captured. I have been diligently printing off the best of my Armenia photos from last summer with good results.
The photocopying (both in colour and black and white) and scanning functions are easy and intuitive to use. The flatbed scanner accommodates up to A4 size paper. Both functions are accessed from the "front page" of the touch screen and provide easy to follow walk-through's for ease of use. You can scan to a file on your chosen destination PC, or directly to a memory card in a bewildering array of formats. The unit accommodates Sony Memory Stick Duo, MMC and SD cards in a slot at the front, allowing you to print direct (or scan onto) without the need for a PC.
In a refreshing change from the industry norm, when installing the software on the CD-ROM provided, HP seem to have refrained from clogging your PC desktop with bloatware. Apart from a shortcut to "shop" for HP supplies, the three other icons give you: (a) quick access to the web-based HP ePrinter Center; (b) link to download HP Photo Creations (which I haven't tried) and, perhaps most usefully, (c) the HP Solution Center, which provides a one-stop shop for diagnostics, settings, functionality, and the obligatory special offers. The program is easy on the eye and equally easy and intuitive to use.
IS IT WORTH THE PREMIUM?
Having read some of the feedback on the HP site, I have not experienced any of the print head clogging problems others have reported, and have found the unit reliable and effective. It compares well with my incumbent Canon for print speed and quality, with the added features providing something different from its Japanese rival. However, whilst it does many things pretty well, it doesn't really stand out in any particular area. Its performance and features are best described as above average.
It still offers decent value for money provided you manage to get hold of at a substantial discount to its £179 RRP (It's going for £99 at John Lewis at the time of writing (i.e. April 2011)). It's five separate print cartridges (two of them black) allow for individual replacement, it runs fairly quiet, duplex printing cuts down on paper costs, and in standby mode it uses very little electricity.
If you are looking for a solid all-rounder that would be at home in a document-heavy home office environment, with the ability to copy and scan to an acceptable level, then the C310 is an option. If it seems I am trying hard to enthuse, it's because I am. Ultimately, for the RRP there are better options available, and one of them, my trusty Canon, is winking conspiratorially at me from the corner of my office.
© Hishyeness 2011
Printers are like buses - at least in my house. No, my printers are not big and red with loads of windows. Instead, they seem to come in bunches. For ages, I'd been working with cheap ink-jet printers, the sort where the cartridges cost more than the printer itself does. Recently, however, I have come into possession, without parting with any money, of two wi-fi, all singing, all dancing printers. One is a Canon, which is a topic for another day, and one is an HP Photosmart Premium, provided by the kind folk at HP and Ciao, in the hope I'll be bowled over and sing its praises over the internet. But is it that good?
== Boxing Clever - Arrival ==
Unsurprisingly, the printer was delivered in a box (which had clearly been opened before). In the box was the printer, the cartridges (five of them), some spare cartridges (only four of those), a couple of handy bags (one for the printer and one for spares) and various wires and gubbins. Set up was easy - I asked my husband to fit the cartridges and plug it in, as I always get myself into a muddle when trying to do anything fiddly like that. As it turns out, fitting the cartridges is a doddle - they just slot in. However, the printer did make a number of interesting whirring noises, and chucked out a few test pages before it was ready to be connected to the wireless. The HP boasts that it has a one-touch wireless set up; my router didn't seem to have the requisite button, so I wi-fied it the old fashioned way - I used the menu and inputted the password key. This was not difficult.
There is a CD ROM with this - this allows you to install the software. I have three computers in the house - a Mac, a work laptop and a home laptop. Set up is similar on both Mac and PC, and is easy, if a little time consuming (perhaps 10 minutes). As well as the printer drivers, the software also includes some HP accessories, a printer monitor and the like. It is at this point you can visit HP's website and set up 'printing on the go' - apparently you can email documents or photos to your printer and it will print them. More on that later.
== Bells and Whistles ==
I'd always thought printers were one trick ponies. Ink jet printers, in my experience, were limited in what they could do. You can print in colour or black and white, and you get through ink like no tomorrow. In short, you used them to...well...print things. If you wanted speed, silence and double sided printing, you needed a laser printer. The HP Photosmart Premium breaks those rules. This baby will print in colour or mono, single or double sided (you don't even need to take the paper out and re-feed it; it does it for you), copy, scan, print directly from the web (sort of). It won't make dinner for you, nor will it wash the dishes. It seems to do much else though.
The screen is big, and it's a touch screen, clearly meant to emulate the iPhone/iPad in navigation. From this screen, you can access a number of aps, of varying usefulness. Actually, I don't find them terribly useful at all. For a start, the screen's sensitivity could do with tweaking - I find it very hard to 'swipe' my way through the aps; I usually either inadvertently select something I don't want (typically Disney, for some reason), or I end up swiping so fast I end up right back at the start. For the sake of thoroughness, however, I did finally manage to print a calendar page using the Quick Forms ap. It's neat that I can, but I really can't see myself making regular use of it.
You can also print directly from a camera's memory card. I have to admit I've not tried this, as I want to put my pictures on the computer anyway - I'm a bit of a Facebook addict, so will often share photos there. Indeed, I rarely print photos anyway these days. Of course, I have printed some to test, especially as HP/Ciao kindly sent me some printer paper. But I shall discuss performance shortly.
The printer allows you, as mentioned earlier, to email documents or pictures directly to the printer. I tried this on my Blackberry, with no joy. Absolutely nothing happened. Sending, however, from my computer using my Gmail account from Entourage did work...sort of. I sent it a picture (from a computer not 20 feet from the printer, but these things need to be tested). It defaults to printing from the photo tray. This tray accepts only small photo paper (typically 6 x 4). I have been supplied with a grand total of three sheets of photo paper that size (though I do have quite a lot of A4 photo paper). When you are printing photos normally, you can override that setting; however, if you can do this from email, I've no idea how.
The printer also doubles as a scanner. You can either use the HP Scan utility installed on your computer, or you can (to a point) control the scan directly from the printer. Handily, the big screen makes scanning easy, as you can see a preview straight from the screen. Therefore, you don't have to go back and forth to the computer to see what you're scanning. You have the choice of scanning to various formats, including images and pdfs. Annoyingly, however, when scanning a multi-page document directly from the interface on the printer (as I recently needed to do when scanning my signed commission plan document to the US), it does create (in this case) seven different pdfs. I was in a hurry on this occasion, and the work computer I wanted it to save to was downstairs (the printer is upstairs), and so I did not use the HP Scan utility on my computer. The Canon allowed me to scan directly from the printer, but gave me the option later to amalgamate the pages, which is very handy. Still, if you use the HP Scan utility, you have a number of useful options, including saving a multipage document as exactly that.
You can also use the printer as a photocopier. Unusually, you have a fair amount of control over the output from the printer itself. You can choose to copy in black and white or colour, single or double sided, and choose the quality, amongst other things. This makes the HP Photosmart Premium a useful photocopier - for once, it's not just an add on. Furthermore, like with the scanner, you can see a preview on the large screen of what you are copying, and you can choose to copy on photo paper in premium quality. It may be a feature I can't see myself using frequently, but it's rather cool, nonetheless.
== The Proof of the Pudding... ==
All the nifty features in the world are not worth a brass farthing (or a wooden nickel, if you're from that side of the pond) if the device doesn't perform its stated function - as a printer. Print quality is tremendously important, especially for a printer that claims to be 'photosmart' and 'premium' to boot. So does it print well?
Print quality is mostly excellent, dependant on the quality of the original. I have in front of me a photo (of which I am very proud - it's me with Terry Pratchett) that I have printed on photo paper on 6 x 4, A4 portrait (where it only fills part of the page) and A4 Landscape. The photo was taken with a high spec digital camera. In truth, at the largest size, it does not look like a professionally printed photo, but it is crisp, clean, and true to its original colours. It is good enough, in fact, that I may well get it framed (I told you I'm proud of it). The quality of printed photos is, of course, affected by the paper (I was provided with both 'everyday' photo paper and premium; I printed these on premium). I suspect it was also affected by the fact that one of the five cartridges supplied is called 'photo'. I'm not exactly sure what makes the photo ink different from the four other coloured (plus black) supplied, but the pictures are indeed good. I also printed a picture of San Francisco I took on my Blackberry (a 5 megapixel camera). The quality wasn't quite as good there, with a few lines and streaks. I used the cheaper paper there (which I cut down with a pair of scissors badly), and the camera quality wasn't as good, but all these things do serve to reduce the quality of the output.
It annoys me that the photo tray, which sits above the main paper tray seems to be the default for printing photos. The printer drags the whole tray into its inners, and it seems to be quirky. You need to make sure the tray is set exactly right, or the printer will throw up an error. I've not tried to load multiple 6 x 4 sheets in there (largely because I was only supplied with three), but I do wonder if that would be quirky too.
Having said all that, I use a printer mostly for printing documents. In this email and Facebook age, many photos simply get posted or emailed. I have printed a fair few documents on this printer, and the quality there is also very good. As previously mentioned, I love the fact you can print double sided automatically.
Once again, the quality of paper you use will affect the finished product, particularly when printing double sided. HP claim they use some kind of special ink, and it doesn't run or smudge, and it dries quickly. However, with the cheap A4 paper I'm using, I do notice that double sided printing, especially if (like the cover of the evaluators guide Ciao/HP kindly sent me) there is a lot of ink on the page, there is some increase in weight of the paper, and minor issues with readability. These are, however, very minor, and no doubt more due to the quality of the paper than to the quality of the printer. On a side note, I do find it amusing that the evaluators guide helpfully tells me that if I print double sided I can 'save paper by up to 50 percent.' Gee. Thanks for clearing that up.
== Click, Whirr... Full, Empty ==
The printer does like making noise. It beeps on start up, it beeps on shut down, it clicks and whirrs when printing, and does so again on start up and shut down. Indeed, it sometimes randomly clicks, beeps, whirrs. I have not found a rhyme nor reason for these brief, unexplained signs of life. Once it gets started its fast - printing, particularly documents is quick. However, it does take a few moments from cold to get started, so your first page is apt to take a bit longer than you expected.
Printer ink is ruinously and shamefully expensive. HP insist its refills are affordable. HP genuine cartridges will set you back from between £7 - £30, depending on size and colour (you can get either standard or XL cartridges, the XL cartridges have a lot more ink in them, if I am understanding this properly - up to 800 pages, apparently). I don't think I've come near to finishing the ink cartridges that are already installed. I use my printer(s) quite a bit, but I'm hardly a super heavy user, and do not print loads of photos to hand out to friends, family and pets. Having said that, the printer is good enough, and I am happy enough with it that I will fork out for new cartridges when the time comes.
== Matty's Musings...==
The HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One is a good printer. The touchscreen is quirky - irritatingly so. I wish there were more options when scanning directly from the printer. I wish the little photo tray also took A4 photo paper. On the upside, the big screen is really very handy. The print quality is excellent, and the cartridges are very easy to install.
HP sell this printer online for £159. My husband spotted it in Tesco for £139.97 (he assures me it was the same model), so it's worth shopping around. If all you are printing is the odd Christmas round-robin letter, you probably don't need anything quite so swish. However, if you are a student, or working from home (as I am), it is a good, all around multi-function printer. It prints well, is easy to set up, and is reasonably quick. It isn't flawless, but it is a good addition to a home office.
I received this HP Photosmart premium e-all-in-one, C310A wireless printer as part of a review site user test. I haven't had a lot of time to get a feel for it so I'll add some updates to this review when I've familiarised myself with more of it's features.
My first thought when the box arrived at my door was how big it looked and where was I going to put it. It's nice looking; smart and shiny black with an adjustable display screen at the front above the printer tray. At first glance the impression is of a smartphone attached to the front. There are two printer trays, a main tray and a smaller photo tray above it which lifts out easily. It's so sleek and shiny that I found it troublesome to photograph, as it is so reflective of the room around it.
In the box were five ink cartridges, (black, cyan, magenta, yellow and photo ink), a CD, set-up guide and the power cable which came packed in a little accessories bag. I could have done with a USB cable too. There was also a box of HP everyday photo paper and some spare inks which I assume were provided for the purposes of this user evaluation, (oh and a sample pack of three 10 x 15cm advanced photo papers).
I knew this was a wireless printer but assumed I would be able to use a USB cable to connect it. We don't have a wireless router as yet and I didn't have the right kind of USB cable, (A-B), to connect this, so had to wait until the next day when the friendly guy at the local independant computer shop gave us one for free. It's important not to connect the cable until prompted, a fact emphasised in the set up guide, (and also by the guy from the computer shop).
So, I connected the power and switched on, it made several spluttery printer type noises which concerned me slightly as they seemed to go on too long. Then the touch screen lit up and asked me a few questions. The instructions seemed a little too matter of fact to me - as though they were aimed at someone who knew what they were doing. Helpfully, there were also little videos to show you exactly how to do things such as insert the printer inks correctly. I found I was mildly scared and followed these instructions exactly, even to the extent of putting in the yellow ink cartridge first, just like in the video, (I know). Once I had put the cartridges in I was informed that 'genuine HP ink cartridges' were installed, which made me wonder what it would say if I were to replace them at a later date with non HP cartridges, ('inferior cartridges installed - cheapskate', perhaps)?
I would have benefited from knowing how to use the touchscreen before I began to use it, so I could scroll up and down and go back a page, but it wasn't a big issue. Once prompted to insert the HP software CD it pretty much installed itself in just a few minutes. It then politely thanked me for choosing HP, at which point I began chatting to it.
I was prompted to connect via the wireless router before I used the USB connector. It seems to me that to get the most out of this printer you really need to have a wireless set-up. I should have one within the next few weeks and it looks like a simple process to change from USB to wireless connection so I will come back and post an update here with further information on that.
~Printing and Scanning~
The blurb tells me that this printer produces lab quality photos and laser quality text. They claim that the inks dry instantly, resist smudging, are fade resistant and last for generations. (I wondered about that last claim, it's based on 'paper industry predictions'). I can confirm that the ink is very quick drying, after my daughter grabbed a photo as soon as it came out of the printer I was surprised to see that there were no fingermarks on it, so on the next one I deliberately tested how quick drying the ink was by gently rubbing the corner of a photo as it was still being printed out. I didn't leave a mark, it was dry.
You can print photographs directly from the printer - there is memory card slot for SD and MMC cards. The option to view and print comes up and you can view the pictures with several onscreen at a time, or just one at a time and select which ones you want to print. You can choose 'select all' or choose them individually and print numbers of copies - pretty much like when you use a self service digital printer machine in a shop. I've only used it to print one photo at a time so far. Options for paper size and other settings come up. I found it annoying at first that it kept reverting to advanced photo paper, when I was using everyday photo paper, but then realised I could change the default setting quite easily. The touchscreen takes a little getting used to and it does sometimes misread your fingers, although this may improve as I get used to it - we'll see.
If you insert the memory card whilst the printer is connected to your PC you may find that you are given the message that the memory card is being used by another application, so best to use it when the PC isn't on, or connected. I didn't do this at first and found that my computer detected the memory card at the same time as the printer and wanted to take over the job.
When printing photographs I do prefer to do it in conjunction with my PC. I find the onscreen options easier to navigate and there are more of them. You may find that the edges of pictures get lost, so check the preview before you print.
I consider quality of the photographs I printed out to be as good as any I've had developed in a lab. In fact, I think they are better quality than some photographs I've had printed professionally. The colours and details are excellent. (You need to make sure on the printing options page to choose 'best' for quality, the first A4 photo I printed out came out with some lines down it because I hadn't done this).
To scan a photograph you press on the scan icon at the bottom of the touchscreen and are prompted to choose a scan destination which is either a memory card or computer. I've scanned a couple of photographs and sent them to my computer. I had a little trouble with semantics - getting things the right way around and so on, but it was basically straightforward. The scans were sent to a new folder called My Scans that was added to the photo software I use without me having to do anything. That impressed me.
Print speeds on this printer are up to 33 pages per minute for black ink documents and 32 ppm for colour. This is fast, and certainly more than I need for home use, I don't print that much off. It does double sided printing. As for the photographs, in my experience an A4 photograph can take around 3 minutes to print out, a 10 x 15 photo about a minute, this was on best quality - the spec info tells me it can print out a draft 10 x 15 photo in 16 seconds, although I'm not sure why anyone would want that. Web page print off is very quick and also, the cancel button on the touchscreen stops the job immediately, something I've found not to be the case when sending orders via a PC.
~Apps (and other things I haven't used yet)~
There are several apps on the touchscreen which can be customised and new ones downloaded. At the moment if I try to use any of these features I get the message, 'Printer must be connected wirelessly for this feature.' I don't really understand why I need to be wirelessly connected to use these shortcuts if I am online anyway and the printer is connected via USB cable. I'm not sure how much these features are relevant to me anyway, for example there's a crayola app, which can print out coloring pages for children, but I can print these off via my PC if I choose to. I suppose it gives me the option to do it without switching my PC on, which might be the point.
It's possible to send print jobs from your phone to the printer and it also has it's own email address so you could send print jobs from another computer, but because I haven't got a wireless router yet, I've still to try these features. Whilst I haven't been able to test the wireless connectivity, I did print out a test sheet which detected 6 wireless networks, so, maybe I'll have trouble working out which one is mine when I do come to use it.
For me, the most fun I've had with this printer so far has been experimenting with printing off photographs. I have a stack of photographs on my PC's hard drive and on memory cards, but hadn't had any printed out for a couple of years. I've now printed out a Mother's Day and birthday card for my Mum with pictures of my daughter on which I know she will love. I've printed out A4 sheets with several photos on for my daughter to put up on her wall, she loves looking at family photos so she's very happy with that. After printing out the smaller photos and seeing how professional they look, I've ordered some more paper so that I can print out photos from the last couple of years and fill up the lovely albums I have in the house. It's much less hassle, (and probably much more economical), to be able to sort through all my photo's and do this piecemeal at home, rather than loading everything onto a memory card or disc to take to a shop which seems like a big job - it's one I've been meaning to do for ages but never got around to. Now I don't have to.
I think this might be good for older people, a relative of mine has been on about getting a computer and the main reason it seem to me is that he wants to be able to print out his own photos. I wonder if a tethered appliance like this, which gives some web access and allows printing might be less complicated than buying a computer which I don't think would really get that much use. I could also send him photo's, emails or other documents that he could print off.
The C310A is energy star qualified and there are various eco tips in the HP solution centre which I can now access via my desktop. I like the fact that the five ink cartridges supplied make it less wasteful to replace one ink cartridge as the colour gets used up, rather than having to replace a colour cartridge when only, say, the blue has run out.
Printer Type: InkJet Colour All-In-One
Maximum print resolution - black: 600 x 600 dpi
Maximum print resolution - colour: 9600 x 2400 dpi
Print speeds: 32 PPM Colour / 33 PPM Black
Paper Handling: 1 x 125-sheets Input Tray, 1 x 20-sheets Photo Tray
Direct Photo Printing - Print directly from Camera or SD Card
ePrint - Print from anywhere via email from any mobile device
Processor (Memory): (64MB Memory)
4.3'' Touchscreen LCD
Dimensions: 455W x 450D x 199H mm; 7.7 kg
Wireless Network Ready
Maximum hardware resolution: 1200 x 2400 Scan DPI
Maximum interpolated resolution: 19200 x 19200 dpi
Bit depth: 48-bits
~Price and Availability~
A quick online price comparison shows this retailing at somewhere between £170 and £180 in a variety of online outlets. The cheapest I could find it was in Amazon marketplace for £119.99, which seems rather good value to me.
The HP photosmart premium looks good. The set up process is quick and easy. It can be used without a computer. The quality of the photographs is superb. The touchscreen feels good on early acquaintance, but has more potential than I am currently able to utilise, it has maybe more features than I need, but I am interested in finding out what apps I could add and make use of in future. I'm surprised by how much I've written when I'm still getting to know this printer. When I've done a few more experiments and have settled into some sort of routine, I'll add the relevant updates. My computer corner is rather crowded at the minute and it is liable to be sat on. but hopefully it will escape unscathed until I get my wireless router, at which time I'll move it somewhere more convenient. I have just the spot in mind; on top of a cupboard which is out of reach of little hands but nicely accessible for the grown-ups. The word I have in mind at the end of this review is 'potential', because I still have a lot to learn about this printer, but based on it's early days, I'm happy.
Most people will know of Hewlett-Packard (HP). The company was founded back in 1939 and has grown from a small garage outfit to one of the world's largest IT specialists. Producing a successful line of printers, scanners, digital cameras and computers, it is a recognisable brand worldwide.
The HP Photosmart Premium All-In-One is designed for home users who want an easy to use, speedy printer which produces lab quality photographs, even without the use of a PC. What makes this different to your usual home use printer is that you can print photographs to it from anywhere with just the use of the internet.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
- the printer
- paper tray and photo paper tray
- plug and cable
- 5 printer cartridges (black, photo black, cyan, magenta and yellow)
- printer bag
- instruction manual (in 24 different languages)
- installation disk
When I opened the box I was pleased to find that everything looked quite easy to put together and there were no random pieces that I didn't recognise. The instruction manual was very simple, especially for a non-techie like myself, in fact I only had to read the front cover of it to be able to set up the printer. The first instruction was to connect the cable to the printer and plug it in at the wall before turning it on. From there I followed the instructions on the TouchSmart screen to ensure that the settings were configured correctly and to install the printer cartridges. The TouchSmart screen was very clear and was almost like a mini netbook! It works as a touch screen which I thought was excellent with no delays and no problem scrolling down the list to select the country or time settings.
When the printer is ready to go, it advises the user to install using the CD provided onto a computer. This was fairly easy and from start to finish, including time to unwrap everything; the whole set up took less than 20 minutes which I thought was very impressive. It connected to our wireless internet once I had selected our home network and typed in the password, which again was very simple.
When the printer was set up I loaded the paper in the tray and printed a test page. Both photo paper and standard A4 size paper can be left loaded at the same time which is something I've not had on previous printers and think is super!
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Fairly attractive actually! It's black, shiny and looks quite neat and pretty sitting on the bottom ledge of my computer table underneath the PC. There are no unnecessary cables hanging from it as it only needs to be plugged in at the wall socket which I think it great.
The touch screen makes it look very state of the art and to me it looks like a large iPhone on the front of the printer. It is very easy to use with sharp, clear writing and options on the display screen, all in colour, which can easily be selected using your finger.
The scanner is on the top with a lid the size of the printer which opens up to reveal a glass screen. A4 or smaller paper can be placed on the screen for scanning or copying.
The printer is 17.91 x 17.7 x 7.8 inch in size and weighs 16.9 lb which makes it an ideal size to fit under a computer table or study table.
SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE PRINTER
The first thing that stood out for me about the Photosmart Premium was that it had two sized slots for memory cards so that I can print straight from my camera without having to use cables or save them to the computer first. This is ideal for quickly printing photographs without using the extra energy of logging onto a PC.
As I mentioned earlier there is also a facility to print from anywhere in the world. You can send an email to the printer from a computer in another country or from your mobile phone if you have signal. The printer has its own email address which you find by printing out the information from the printer itself. You can send attachments straight to the printer as long as it is turned on, just by sending an email. The printer will print out the email itself and any attachments, which can include Word documents, PDFs and JPEG files. I really doubted that this would work but I can assure you that it does and it's easy! I have sent emails to try it out from my home PC, laptop and mobile phone including plain text and holiday photos. While this feature is quite exciting and fun to play around with, I personally can't imagine a time when I will need to send an email to my printer bearing in mind I would have to then go home to collect it and could just print it from my computer! Also, the printer would need to be turned on which is very unlikely in my house as I keep everything turned off when I am out of the house. Very Green!
There are some features which have been built into the printer which again can be accessed without turning on the computer. I was excited to see that I could print off Sudoku puzzles of varying difficulty as well as the answers! I can't imagine a time that I would need to print off a grid of completed numbers but there is always the option! It also has a variety of calendars which can be printed onto regular paper or on glossy if needed which is useful to me as I don't always want to write everything on my main wall calendar.
One of the best features on the printer is the Snapfish application. Most people will know of the online digital photo service Snapfish, in fact I use it regularly. You can either log into your account and print photos from your online albums or you can download photographs from your memory card to Snapfish where you can use its facilities to print them how you want. There is also a Dreamworks feature which includes bookmarks, pictures and things to colour in from animated movies such as Madagascar and Shrek. You can access any of these features without even turning on your computer.
There is an option to view other applications which can then be added to the menu on the printer. These include a Disney application where you can download Disney pictures to colour in and posters, a Facebook application so that you can print photos from the site, a Halloween application which allows you to print Halloween themed pictures and activities and 'Mappy' which displays maps and routes which can be printed out.
The quality of printing is excellent as the five ink system delivers crisp text and bright, vivid images. According to the user manual the inks are optimised for porous photo media to provide exceptional image quality, fade resistance, and instant-dry, water and smudge-resistant prints. In the case of black and coloured text, novelty cards and bookmarks I've found that this is entirely accurate and has provided me with some great quality images and colour printing which has dried instantly. It also prints very quietly and is one of the quietest printers I've used.
One of the best things about the printer is that it is very quick to print, especially in black and white. My daily Sudoku puzzle takes three seconds to print out and that's for two puzzles on a page. You can also select 'with answers' to print these on the back of the paper. I don't like to have the answers but I printed them out just to see how long it took and was pleasantly surprised to find that it only took ten seconds, even when it had to duplex print on the reverse.
I have printed some images, holiday photographs and various greetings cards and bookmarks which have all printed quickly. The quality is outstanding, certainly the best I've experienced from a printer at home or at work, but I would still rather get holiday photos printed from somewhere that specialises in photographs - you can't beat it! I would find it too painful to print each one out myself and it's just not quite the same. It takes approximately fifteen seconds to print an A5 sized photograph on glossy paper which I think is great. Weirdly, when I used the small premium glossy paper (6 x 4 inch) and printed photos straight from the printer the print-out wasn't as good quality and smudged easily and I couldn't wash the ink off my hands for over a day!
Another issue I've faced with printing is that occasionally a print job just isn't recognised or has a long delay! We have three computers in the house, all of which are set up to print to the Photosmart Premium and a few times it just hasn't worked or has taken 10 minutes to come through. It hasn't really caused us any issues but if we were to need something urgently the problem could get quite annoying.
SCANNING AND PHOTOCOPYING
Photocopying is easy and effective. The result is always excellent with an exact likeness printed out in black and white in around 10-15 seconds and a colour copy in 15-20 seconds. Both photocopying and scanning take a while to begin as the machine takes about a minute to warm up but once ready, the actual scanning process only takes a few seconds. There are two options when scanning. You can choose either to save the scanned images onto a PC or to a memory card. A preview of the scanned image or text appears on the touch screen before saving to the computer or memory card which is useful as you can decide to re-scan if there is a problem or if anything is cut off.
A SUSTAINABLE PRINTER?
One of the important things in printing for me is being environmentally friendly. I don't like to print out anything without good reason and if I do I try to do it in black and white. The PhotoSmart Premium has a facility to automatically print double sided which helps to save paper as you only need half the amount of sheets.
The ink cartridges last ages and even though I've not had the printer long enough to use up the ink you can monitor how much you are using on the printer screen so you know when to buy the next ones. The blue ink is the only one that isn't still completely full on the monitor so clearly that is the one most used, but luckily it's possible to buy the cartridges individually so you can just replace the ones that have run out.
The printer is Energy Star®-compliant and energy efficient and meets the EU's guidelines for the restriction of hazardous substances. It automatically goes into sleep mode when it hasn't been used for a few minutes which helps to save energy. You do not need to power up your laptop or PC to use it which is another great energy saving measure.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The printer is available to purchase online and in computer shops and prices seem to range from around £130 on eBay up to £200. The printer can be purchased from the HP website for £179 where other printers from the range can be purchased. Ink cartridges can be bought online for as little as £6 which I think is very reasonable in comparison with other brands.
Overall I am very impressed with this printer. It was easy to set up and the quality of printing is great. There have been a few issues along the way such as installing the printer on my netbook which doesn't have a CD drive so I had to go through the website and the occasional delays in printing, but all in all the experience has been positive. Most problems have been easily resolved using the user's guide and excellent website. It is an expensive printer but it's definitely worth it considering the excellent print quality and speed and I think it will save money in the long run with less paper required and long lasting ink cartridges. The applications are useful and also quite fun, especially if you have children in the house and this is a feature I haven't seen on other printers. I would give the printer an excellent 4/5 as it is very attractive, does everything that it needs to and more, but might be overwhelming for anyone who isn't great with technology.
I was really pleased a few weeks ago to receive our new printer, the HP Photosmart Premium. Although I was pretty happy with our old printer, this one can do so much more as it has the facilities to print, scan, copy and also connect to the web. Since we have had this printer, I have made good use of those first three functions, but have not yet really explored the web access as at the moment I cannot really see a need for that. However it is good to know that is an option if I ever want it.
Once we opened the box we were pleasantly surprised to discover the extra inks and everyday photo paper (more on that later though). It was also not immediately obvious as to how to get the printer out of the rather immense box and packaging. In the end we had the box on its side and shifted the printer out - not really a big deal but a bit annoying all the same. There was quite a large amount of protective packaging but this was very easy to remove.
The Getting Started manual was quite useful but if this was your first printer it did not give advice about where to place the printer etc. This was not a big deal for us though because we knew where we were going to put it. The instructions were pretty basic - just a few directions accompanied with simple diagrams. Although the instruction booklet looks quite lengthy, only the first few pages are in English and then the instructions are repeated in a multitude of other languages.
When we attached the power cable, the power button lit up and the screen came on briefly before then going off which seemed a bit strange. After pressing the power button, the screen then came into life and from then on this provided the instructions that you needed to follow for set up. Thus, it did not really matter that the paper version was so scant.
The screen provided an animation of how to load the ink cartridges which meant that you had to lift up a lid on the printer. Unfortunately, this then made it very difficult to read the next instructions on the screen. Again this was not a huge problem but seems a bit daft. Loading the cartridges was very similar to how you load them on a Canon printer that my husband is quite familiar with. Therefore, as we were already quite familiar with the process, it's hard to assess how useful the screen animation was. There was also a strange orange plastic object that did not seem to be mentioned in the instructions but we worked out that this was probably just extra protection that could be discarded especially when we saw a small bin imprinted on it!
The way that you can identify where the ink goes is through colour coded shapes. We were quite impressed when, inadvertently getting two colours in the wrong positions, a message popped up on the screen telling us that they were in the wrong places. This is very good because it makes it virtually impossible to position the inks incorrectly.
The next instruction was to load plain white paper into the main tray. Only A4 photo paper had been supplied though, so you would need to make sure that you already had a supply of normal paper. This is necessary in order to carry out a calibration test. We were then instructed to load photo paper into the photo tray and this is where things started to annoy my husband! The photo tray only takes small photo paper and would not take the A4 photo paper that had been supplied with the printer. So just to recap, HP have supplied A4 photo paper and so far we had been required to use A4 plain paper and smaller photo paper! I'll come back to this later.
We still needed to set up the wireless connection and this was pretty straightforward as the printer searched for the available networks and we could just select our network and supply the password. Finally there was a CD that we needed to put in our computer and it then took an extremely long time until finally we were connected wirelessly and everything seemed to be working. During this process I would suggest that it might be a good opportunity to go off and cook dinner or something similar.
At the end of this process, the printer offered a test print of a photograph which seemed a very sensible idea. This could either be one that was built in or one that you could supply. So my husband thought that he would give that a go and loaded the main tray with the supplied A4 photo paper and watched how it then tried to print on nonexistent paper in the photo tray as there were no options of where to print or any other options. As we still needed to test it though, we ran up our Picasa program and selected a photo of our lovely daughters. At this stage we were able to select the main tray but then the first time it failed to print correctly because the default paper size was too small. However, after making the correct paper size selections, the photo printed correctly and we were pleased with the result.
However, the smaller photo tray is pretty useless for us as we tend to print and alter photo sizes on A4. This means that we will always have to use the main tray and to remember to change the type of paper for whether we are doing normal printing or photos. This is pretty annoying as I am sure that I will end up wasting lots of photo paper and it would be so much better if the photo tray could be adapted for different sized paper meaning that we could keep a supply of photo paper in that tray with no worries.
This was all carried out linked to our main desktop PC which is less than a year old and runs Windows 7. I also wanted to link it up to my work laptop which is significantly older and runs on Windows XP.
Unfortunately, we found it impossible to load the printer drivers on to the laptop so this could be a problem for you. I do have my own personal laptop as well that runs on Windows 7 and we were able to connect that one with no problems. Therefore the printer is connected wirelessly to both the desktop and my laptop through our Netgear router. However, if I do want to print from my older work laptop that is not a problem as I can email my documents directly to the printer using the e-print facility. As the printer has its own email address, you can identify other email addresses that will be allowed access and from any of those you can email what you want to print and it will just do it! This is great for me because of the problems with my laptop and also means that if you are elsewhere and need to print something, you can do it at the time rather than having to think about it later. We have already used this facility a few times and it works brilliantly and is another reason why I really recommend this printer.
Now on to the performance. We are very pleased with the quality of the printing and with how easy it is to print, scan and copy. If you are scanning or copying there are very easy to follow instructions on the printer screen. However, if you want a customised scan and change various things such as resolution you will need to do this on the computer. Overall though it is very easy to use though and with the onscreen instructions it would actually be quite difficult to get it wrong. I also like the fact that I am able to print double sided. It has been a source of frustration with our old computer that I had not been able to do this especially if I had to print off a large number of sheets for work. With this printer I can now save money and resources by halving the number of sheets of paper that I print on.
The speed of the printing is very good. However it is slightly noisy although not so much so that it will be a nuisance. The paper fits well into the paper tray and after printing there is a useful retaining bar that ensures the paper does not all fall on the floor.
On the downside, the printer is quite big and bulky meaning that it does take up a lot of desk space and is not likely to fit neatly on the shelf. This is definitely an aspect that you would need to consider if buying this, especially if you are short on space. However, this negative is counter-balanced by the fact that the printer is so multi functional and the ability to print, scan and photocopy is excellent for me particularly as I increasingly seem to be working from home more.
I can't imagine that I am likely to be taking this printer to different locations, but if I did want to a handy recyclable bag is supplied to carry it in with a smaller one for printer accessories. On the other hand I could just add it to my collection of bags to use at Sainsburys!
Overall I really like the HP Photosmart Premium printer. Once we had got past our initial set up problems, I found it really easy to use and was very pleased with the quality. The ability to scan and copy as well as print is a real asset especially if, like me, you are working increasingly from home. It is very clever and intuitive in many ways but I do wish that it was just a little smaller because, at the moment, we are struggling to find a permanent home for it where it is not too obtrusive.
The printer is also not particularly cheap as it is advertised on the Hewlett Packard website for £179. However, I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for and this is a good printer. I have also checked on Amazon though and it is currently on offer for £129.99 (March 2011), which I think represents very good value. Overall, if you have a large number of printing needs, I would definitely recommend taking a look at the HP Photosmart Premium.
This review first appeared on Ciao where I was lucky enough to receive this printer to test! Thanks Ciao!
The HP Photosmart Premium is a wireless All-In-One multifunctional printer with scanner and memory card slots. It can be used via a USB connection (USB cable not included) or wirelessly. I use mine wirelessly although I had initially used a USB connection when I first got it out of the box to print a few things. There is no network port though so you must have wireless if you intend to use it over a network.
My first impression of the printer is that it looks quite compact and extremely sexy with its black glossy body (everyone else in the house agrees). Unfortunately, I can picture it being covered with a blanket of dust in no time so it would need regular wipe downs. That aside, it looks very up-to-date and modern and this is partly due to how it doesn't have any buttons. It has a large touch screen in the middle, which can be tilted as needed. There's also four touch sensitive buttons, which light up when applicable. The printer design fits very well in the home.
After unpacking the printer, there were plenty of clear protective stickers and blue tape to hold moving parts in place for me to rip off. The printer was in a black 'HP ecosolutions' bag and the power adapter was in a zip case rather than see-through throwaway bags. This was probably HP's attempt at being more environmentally friendly. The bag can be used for shopping and the zip case can be used for storing other bits and pieces. I installed the set of included ink cartridges and powered on the printer. To my surprise, the display said that there were incompatible cartridges installed. I had used the original HP cartridges that were included, so I checked whether I had installed each one in the correct slots. Each colour is allocated a shape. You then match up the shape and colour on the cartridges with the coloured shape for each slot, which makes it easy to tell which cartridge goes in which slot. I had correctly installed the cartridges so I just restarted the printer, which did sort out the problem.
The printer proceeded to do its thing and automatically printed a print alignment / calibration page. I followed the Wizard (step-by-step installation stages) and went through the wireless set up. I have two wireless networks in the house. One is from my Belkin router and the other is from my Apple AirPort Extreme Wireless Base Station. I tried to connect to my Apple network but it kept failing to connect (said invalid pass key or something) even though I knew I was using the correct details. Instead of wasting more time after 3 or 4 attempts, I told it to connect to the Belkin network instead, which worked first time. This was a bit annoying and puzzling, as both networks used the same level of security (WPA). During the set up, it also printed a page telling me about ePrintCenter, ePrint and Print Apps as well as telling me my printer's email address.
I had mixed experiences with installing the HP software from the CD provided. On my Macbook Pro (running Snow Leopard, Mac OS X), the software installed fine in around 15 minutes, which overwrote an existing installation of the HP software (as I own another HP multifunctional printer). Set up via USB connection and then later, I changed it to wireless without any problems.
On my main PC running Windows 7 Ultimate (64bit), the software setup closed itself prematurely after agreeing to the disclaimer. The disc included does state it was compatible with Windows 7 so I uninstalled my existing HP printer software (meant for the HP Photosmart Premium C309a), restarted the PC but it still did the same thing. Not wanting to give up, I went onto the HP website and downloaded the software (full package, which is 167MB in size). The download speed on the HP website was a good 570KB/s so the download took less than 5 minutes. Same thing happened the first two times but I closed down all running programs the next time and it worked.
On another PC running XP, the software gave errors and had to roll back so uninstalled itself. I kept trying and even cancelled when it tried to uninstall and it installed okay. It already had software for another HP multifunctional printer installed, which might have been the cause but it did not mess up the existing install. When using the HP Solution Centre, it still used the existing printer as the scanner. It didn't actually ask me to select the Photosmart on this occasion so that makes sense. The installation didn't complete but the drivers were on the machine. I simply manually added the printer into the Printer List using the Add Printer wizard using the Photosmart's IP address (I got this off the network settings on the printer) and selected the appropriate driver, which did install from the software CD. On another machine running XP, it installed fine and this too had an older version of the HP software.
Overall, setting up the printer wasn't as smooth as hoped and the HP software is a bit of a pain. Always better to restart the PC, close all programs, even disable antivirus when before installing software and drivers for HP printers. The printer not being able to connect to my Apple wireless network was a bit strange but I later rectified this by doing a software update for the printer. This was done via the touch screen on the printer.
The software update process wasn't as painless as I'd hoped, as it took around 30 minutes to do step 1 of 2. I left it to run and it got stuck at the end of step 2 for about an hour so I restarted the printer (which is worrying as you're advised to never interrupt firmware updates because it can kill your device). When it started up again, it spent another 20 minutes or so downloading and installing another update, which did complete successfully without turning the printer into an oversized paperweight.
USING THE TOUCH SCREEN
The printer takes around a minute to switch on, which is a bit slow for my liking but it is pleasantly quiet when turning on unlike a lot of other multifunctional printers. This may vary depending on when the Photosmart decides it needs to 'prepare' the cartridges or if new cartridges have been inserted. Using the TouchSmart touch screen is intuitive although it's not as sensitive as an iPhone screen. You press buttons and swipe left or right to scroll along and to move from one picture or screen to another. I find I do have to apply a bit more pressure before it registers when compared to an iPhone but this is quick to get used to.
Navigating around the options takes a second a two before it moves from one screen to another, which I feel could be sped up but this isn't a huge problem. Moving onto some other screens, can take up to 10 seconds. Opening the scanning options took around 8 seconds the first time but only a 1-2 seconds the second time, so things can definitely be improved there (more memory in the printer?). On a brighter note, when the printer is in 'sleep' mode, just tapping the touch screen wakes it up pretty much instantly.
PRINTING & PRINT QUALITY
General printing has been problem free and is not particularly noisy. The noise level of when printing is what I expect from an inkjet printer and have definitely heard worse. I have been very impressed with the quality of the photos printed out. Using HP photo paper, images seem to have good colour accuracy but more importantly, colours are solid without streaks anywhere to be seen. This is using the photo paper and high quality print settings. Pictures on web pages printed onto normal office paper printed fine as well. Photocopies of glossy magazine covers look amazingly in terms of colour accuracy. Looking closer, textures vary but I don't expect it to be perfect. The printer is quite quick to print as a full page colour copy takes around 20 seconds to print. Unfortunately, copies don't seem to be borderless so I do end up with white margins around the edges. Printing photographs on full A4 or the small photo paper is automatically borderless though. Printing normal text documents is much quicker.
When printing normal text documents, the quality is adequate. When looking very closely at printed text, even with the higher quality setting, I do see a bit of splattering around the edges of the text but it's very small and still perfectly readable. Lesser quality settings are a bit fainter and the splattering around the edges of text are that bit more apparent but otherwise, still perfectly acceptable for reading. Choice of paper may affect this so using higher quality paper may yield better results. In all cases, the ink has been very quick to dry so no smudging when touched.
I have found scanning with the Photosmart extremely easy using the HP Solution Centre as well as using the touch screen. Scan quality is very good and it's also quick even when scanning at 200 dpi resolution (dots per inch, the higher the number the higher the quality). I can choose to scan to a memory card or scan to a computer with the option of which computer to scan to. When choosing to scan via the touch screen, a preview of the document in the flatbed comes up quite quickly without me asking for it, which is good as it's not slowing me down and saves an extra step in the process. I can choose to scan to email (it sends the image to my email client, ready to send), to PDF on my computer, as an image to my computer, etc and it works very well over wireless. When using the HP Solution Centre on the computer, I can ask for a scan wherever I am in the house (provided my wireless allows) and it just brings up the image on my machine in seconds. I'd imagine scanning via USB would be just as easy for those using a desktop and with the Photosmart on the same desk but the wireless adds a lot of flexibility as you can have multiple PCs (although not at the same time as the software will complain if the machine is already in the middle of doing a scan). The quick transfer of the scanned image over the wireless network is most likely due to the Photosmart having a wireless N wireless card built-in (currently the fastest wireless standard). I feel this helps justify the higher cost of the printer compared to cheaper models.
The memory card slots let you use the printer as a card reader but it also lets you use your printer as a standalone machine so you can print photos without the use of a computer. It only has SD / MMS and Sony Memory Stick DUO card slots, which is fine for me but I know that a lot of people with Digital SLR Cameras which use CF (Compact Flash) cards so may be a let down for those. To use as a card reader, it is possible to import the pictures from a memory card over the wireless although this must be via the HP software. Using the HP Photosmart Studio on the Mac, it successfully imported some of the photos on my SD Card but it complained that it couldn't import the other pictures for some reason. Same thing happens each time I try. It's also possible to send the pictures from a memory card from the printer to the PC but I've not managed to get this working. The printer screen said to go to my computer to complete the transfer but nothing popping up on my computer. If connected up via USB, it would just appear as a removable drive on your computer and probably ask whether you want to import or view the images on the card as soon as it detects the card, which would be a lot more straight forward.
The ePrint feature lets you print to the Photosmart by simply sending an email to the printer. It gave me an email address when I was setting up the wireless. I tested this and it does print my email message albeit omitted the attachments. The website tells me that they omit attachment that they think will not print out properly, although I attached a photograph so not sure why it didn't print. However, on further testing, it can print images that are embedded in the message body so you're fine if you send HTML formatted emails to the printer. You can log into the ePrintCenter, an area on the HP site that lets you view the printer status, get updates, find links to support, etc. After emailing the printer (that sounds a bit odd), I got an email confirming that the ePrint had been received. I like this feature as it means I can send print jobs to the Photosmart when out and about and it means I will have printouts ready to be picked up when I get home (assuming it wasn't out of paper or switched off). It's also possible to restrict who can print to the printer as anyone who knows the printer's email would be able to print. Not that anyone would be able to guess it, as it's a long code in front of the email. These can take a few minutes but it works.
Print Apps are little programs that you can run on the printer's touch screen. There are a number of them pre-installed such as Yahoo news, Disney, etc, which lets you print articles. It's Difficult to read what they are on the screen so at most, you can see the pictures and read the headlines as that's all it was intended since you're supposed to print them. When printed, it prints using duplex by default (double-sided printing to help save paper).
There's one nice little App called HP Quick Forms, which lets you print things like fax cover sheets, notebook paper (guide lines), music sheets, but my personal favourites are the calendar (weekly or monthly) and checklists (empty so you can fill in the tasks then tick them off when done). There are also games (i.e. Sudoku) and photo management Apps such as Snapfish, which lets you upload photos to albums, view existing albums so you can print and even order prints. There's even a Facebook Photos App for those interested.
All these Apps are simple and intuitive to use, albeit can be a bit slow as some screens require content from websites and can take 10 seconds upwards to load, even on a fast wireless network and broadband. More Apps can be downloaded via the touch screen and what Apps you have on the printer can be amended to you're your needs. This is all quick and easy. Logging onto the HP Print Apps area, on the ePrintCenter a number of categories are empty, which is a bit disappointing. I would have liked to see something in the 'Coupons' category amongst others. I feel they could have at least have created at least one App in each category (or not bother with the category at all). They're nice to have but a lot of the things can be done on a PC anyway and it may be less frustrating when done on a PC than on a small touch screen that's also slow to navigate. However, for certain last minute tasks like printing out a route, the Print Apps seems very handy.
Being able to print photos directly off a memory card is a handy feature, which pretty much all multifunctional printers with memory card slots is capable of so its is nothing new. Unfortunately, it's been hit and miss with my C310a. When a memory card is inserted, the printer acknowledges it with a blue LED above the card slots and a ding audible alert. I navigate to the Pictures section to view and select which photos I wish to print. The menus are easy to navigate and I am able see the pictures on the memory card but my first attempt at printing resulted in nothing happening after pressing the print button. I later discovered it was because the printer is set to print to the photo tray 3 x 5" photo size by default. It did not tell me this, which isn't particularly user friendly (although it did after I did updated the printer's software). With this mystery solved, I duly attempted to get some printing done via the card slot and the touch screen.
When printing off some photographs directly off of a SD card I've found that print jobs cancelled themselves part way through with the message "Print Cancelled" on the display. It had me wondering whether it was because I accidentally pressed the cancel button just as I started the job but this has happened to me several times printing to 10 x 15cm photo paper as well as HP A4 photo paper. Most times, it started printing a tenth of the photo before cancelling but it has also cancelled a print job after it had printed just over 80% of the page.
This problem occurs intermittently, as I have printed a number of photos successfully both on A4 and on the 10 x 15cm photo paper via the photo tray. Even so, this problem is pretty unacceptable for a premium product and can result in a fair bit of wasted photo paper. Maybe it doesn't like my SD Card? (although still not a good enough reason as it sometimes works). Unfortunately, even the firmware update I ran didn't resolve this problem and I believe it's a firmware problem. After doing a search online, does seem others have experienced this problem as well (some with worse symptoms affecting all prints). Other prints (i.e. from a PC / copying) have been fine.
I've also had the printer tell me that it could not connect to the network when using the Print Apps to get news articles online. On checking the network settings, the printer was still connected. This was quite intermittent but the problem eventually went away.
Lastly, on one occasion, the printer's touch screen interface became slow and even unresponsive. I had to restart the printer to fix this. This was all after the software / firmware update. It hasn't happened since though.
COST OF PRINTER AND RUNNING COSTS
The cost of the printer varies from £125 upwards to £200 depending on where you buy it, so not particularly cheap compared to the £40 multifunctional printers that you can get. However, the higher costs mean that you could potentially be better off in the long run due to the running costs, as the cheaper printers will use single ink cartridges (1x black and 1x colour), which cost about £20+ each. I prefer to be able to replace individual colours to reduce waste and to lower costs.
After printing out a number of full A4 sized colour photos, the ink indicators on my computers and on the printer's display show that the ink levels have only depleted slightly (I don't know how accurate those are) although it seems to suggest that only Cyan has gone down and the rest seem to be full. This printer uses HPs 364 and 364XL cartridges and uses a total of 5 ink cartridges (Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Photo Black).
The standard cartridges cost just under £6 each. The high capacity ones cost around £11 each. The XL (high capacity) black cartridge costs around £17, so just under £30 for a set of the standard ones or around £60 for a set of the 'XL' high capacity cartridges. I recommend shopping around as prices can go up and down.
As for energy use, this printer has been ENERGY STAR® rated and it goes to sleep when idle so helps with keeping electricity costs down although I personally switch the machine off when not in use, which is even better. Unfortunately, that also means that ePrinting my emails won't work until the printer is switched back on again.
- Printer looks very sleek and modern
- Photo print quality is excellent
- Ink dries quickly
- Nice features such as ePrint, which works well
- Print Apps are nice to have
- Multiple cartridges so not all colours need to be changed when one colour runs out
- 802.11n Wireless (faster wireless speeds) enabling fast transfers and scanning over the wireless
- Quiet printing
- Multiple inks for colours (cost and environmental benefits)
- Energy efficient
- HP website provides easy access to software and driver downloads
- HP Consumer forums is also a good resource for support
- Comes with a large bag and zip case
- Print jobs cancel part way when printing direct off a memory card
- HP software / drivers can be annoying to set up
- Printer wireless complains about no connection when it's connected
- Printer updates take a long time and can get stuck
- Print Apps choices a bit limited
- Bit slow to start
- No Ethernet port so you must have a Wireless network to utilise a lot of the features
- Navigation around the touch screen can be a bit slow when extra content needs to be downloaded
- Only has SD / MMS and Sony Memory Stick DUO card slots
- No USB cable included
The set up process was a bit annoying and can be improved, especially with the software but it seems to vary from system to system. Maybe tell people to restart their PC, close all programs before running the HP software installer as well as not plug in the USB cable before installing the software. The random cancelling of prints in the midst of printing, the 'no connection' warning when it's actually connected, etc can definitely be ironed out by HP with future firmware upgrades. Luckily, I rarely print straight from memory cards so that issue doesn't really affect me.
The touch screen interface is nice but I would like the navigation to be a bit quicker, especially with Print Apps. It would frustrate many people to have to wait ten seconds to navigate between pages when it'd be quicker on a PC, which they can then print from the PC. It lacks an Ethernet port so you must have wireless in order to use the Print Apps. Those points aside, the print quality is good, the scanning works very well and it has some nice features, so I do recommend the Photosmart for those reasons.
With features such as ePrints, the Print Apps and the possibilities of more Apps in the future, the excellent print quality, ease and speed of scanning over the network and the cost of inks, I would give the Photosmart a a 4 out of 5 in terms of value for money.
Thanks for reading.