HP Photosmart C4180

A clip-on plate for the user panel and a light beige colour scheme with rounded styling suggest some similarities between the HP C4180 and the Lexmark X5470. This is also a two cartridge printer. But that’s where the resemblance ends.

The HP has a tiltable colour LCD and a much more sophisticated and accessible interface for scanning, printing and copying. There’s also every camera and memory connector you can think of. The paper path has an unusual small A6/photo-size print option that pulls blanks in from a side cartridge – including optional stick-on ‘CD Tatoos’.

Scanning and printing are acceptably fast without being lightning quick. Plain paper copies print in around 20 seconds, and photo-quality in about two minutes. Our test copy showed reasonable results on plain paper, and very good colour matching on colour photo paper – in fact the HP was the most colour accurate of all the printers – but the output was let down by some minor banding in the reds.

The supplied software is good, with plenty of scanning and printing options plus fast OCR, bundled into a simple package.

But the C4180 suffers from some unexpected quirks. The top-right corner of the scan is also at the bottom-left of the tray – which is an odd arrangement, but not too hard to get used to.

The thick plastic surround on the scanning tray is much harder to live with. Paper that fits inside this surround can be laid flat and scans easily. Paper that doesn’t, can’t. This means that you can scan an A4 sheet with no problems. But if you try to scan a magazine, newspaper feature, or anything at all that’s larger than A4, the edges don’t touch the glass unless you weight the paper down and crease it.

OUR VERDICT

This limitation is the C4180’s near-fatal flaw. When an item to be scanned is not weighted the edges of the scan are fuzzy and out of focus. This is, frankly, silly and hard to ignore. If you can live with that fiddly inconvenience, the C4180 has a lot going for it. It’s fast, easy to use, and produces good, if not quite perfect, results.

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