HP Photosmart C4480 Inkjet Multifunction Printer
At a Glance
HP's Photosmart C4480 color inkjet multifunction printer is inexpensive ($100 as of August 4, 2008), and its prints look nice. But it's slow, and its design is a bit skimpy.
The Photosmart C4480 looks like a big shoebox. Slide your fingers into the canal along the top front edge, and you can either lift the scanner lid or flip open the front panel. A slender plastic arm pivots out from the opened panel, and a little stop flips up from the end. This is your 50-sheet output tray and your 100-sheet input tray: As they finish printing, output pages fall on top of blank sheets. This design may save money, but it's also sort of a mess. No duplexing (two-sided printing) is available.
The control panel is simple--because it doesn't do much. A very small (1.5-inch) color LCD on the front of the MFP has three tiny buttons on its left side. Press a side button to choose one of the minimal on-screen options: making one to ten copies, or scanning straight to your PC. You can also use the display and the two media-card slots to work with photos. HP's Solution Center desktop software offers more copy, scan, and photo options, such as selecting up to 99 copies and customizing your scanner settings.
The Photosmart C4480's output looked great, but obtaining it requires a bit of patience. In our tests, plain-text pages printed at an acceptable pace of 7.5 pages per minute, but color graphics printed at 1.8 ppm or slower. Text on output pages came out dark and legible, and photos were attractive even on plain paper--though sometimes they seemed a bit dark and grainy on HP's own paper. Scans and copies looked pretty good.
Ink costs are acceptable. The machine ships with a standard-size black cartridge and a tricolor cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridge, each of which lasts less than 200 pages. The high-yield versions are the cheapest way to go: a 710-page black cartridge costs $30 (which works out to 4.2 cents per page), while the 480-page color cartridge costs $35 (7.3 cents per page).
The Photosmart C4480 is a nice little inkjet MFP with a couple of big problems: slow graphics printing, and a design that is minimalist to a fault. The similarly priced Epson Stylus NX400 is faster and has more features, though its output quality isn't quite as good. HP's performance in our recent Reliability and Service survey was average.