HP Photosmart C5180 All-In-One
At a Glance
HP Photosmart C5180 All-In-One Printer
Nice photos and networking come at a good price here, but plain-paper printing looks mediocre.
For a network-enabled multifunction printer, the HP Photosmart C5180 All-In-One carries an attractive price of $200 (as of 10/25/2006). It has a USB port in addition to built-in ethernet, but unlike many other similarly priced MFPs, it doesn't have a PictBridge port. To print photos from your digital camera without using a PC, you can use one of the four media slots, which between them accept all the major memory card formats. The 2.4-inch color LCD displays images from your card and lets you see the effects of various enhancements, including red-eye removal, cropping, and the use of frames. HP has divided the control panel sensibly by function, placing the buttons for navigating menus and browsing images in front of the LCD.
The main paper tray holds up to 100 sheets of plain paper. A second tray can hold 30 sheets of 4-by-6-inch photo paper. You slide it into place only when printing snapshots, and you can see whether it's in use through a clear window in the output tray. The flatbed scanner handles documents up to letter-size, but it lacks an automatic document feeder to handle larger sizes or multiple pages. Film scanning capabilities are nonexistent; however, you do get HP's excellent Photosmart Premier software, which requires a lengthy installation and takes up a hefty chunk of disk space.
The C5180 uses six individual ink cartridges, including light cyan and light magenta in addition to the typical three primary colors. The black ink looked slate-gray in our text prints, though characters were quite sharp. Our line-art sample had a bluish cast, but we saw very little banding, and lines remained distinct even in small point sizes. In photos printed on plain paper, colors looked dull, and shadow detail was sparse. However, photos printed on HP's Advanced Photo Paper exhibited vibrant colors, sharp detail, and smooth tonal gradations, though some shadows looked bluish and skin tones appeared slightly unnatural. Scanning quality and copying quality were good, but not stellar, across our variety of tests.
The C5180 chalked up moderate scores in our speed tests. Text and graphics pages printed at roughly average speeds of 7.3 pages per minute and 2.8 ppm, respectively. Our 5-by-7-inch test photo printed in 45 seconds--close to the test-group average. Scans completed quickly, with our 4-by-5-inch test photo at 100 dpi taking just 7.1 seconds (only the Canon MP960 was faster, at 6.2 seconds). On the other hand, plain-paper copying averaged a slower-than-normal 2.1 ppm.
The well-priced Photosmart C5180 has much to offer for printing photos and for sharing on a small network. It delivers high-quality glossy photos, but its plain-paper photo prints are not great.