HP Photosmart C7180 multifunction printer

The HP Photosmart C7180 is a six-ink, all-in-one photo inkjet printer with built-in scanner, copier, and fax machine. With just about every imaginable connection option and feature, the C7180 isn’t designed for bargain hunters, but it is a good choice for users who want a plethora of features in one box.

Setup

The C7180’s streamlined design makes this unit very user-friendly right out of the box. Memory card readers supporting most types of digital camera cards are conveniently located on the unit’s right-hand corner near the paper tray. Copying, scanning, faxing, and photo-printing functions are within arm’s reach on the C7180’s sleekly designed control panel, and menus are easy to navigate and read thanks to the large 3.6-inch LCD.

When setting up the printer, one of the first decisions you’ll face is choosing from the myriad connection options. Want to connect via USB 2.0? No problem. How about a wireless 802.11g connection? Done. Want more? How about wired or wireless Ethernet, or perhaps Bluetooth? Thankfully, an illustrated, step-by-step instruction manual and an installation program carefully guide you through setting up the printer with whichever connection you choose.

Once we finished setting up the printer and installing the software, the C7180 showed up as an available Bonjour printer in the Printer Setup Utility when connected via Ethernet, or as an available USB printer when connected directly to the computer.

The C7180 has an integrated 4800 dpi flatbed scanner with a transparency adapter built into the lid for scanning film and negatives. Guides for scanning 35mm slides and negatives are included and stored in the scanning lid when not in use. Using the printer and scanner together, the unit can function as a stand-alone color copier, ready to duplicate, enlarge, or enhance your existing photos on various media. We ran into some minor problems when scanning film: we initiated a scan using the C7180’s menus, specifying that the original was a color slide, but it would always try to scan it as a negative. When you hit the Scan button and select the Scan to PC command, the HP Scan Pro software launches on your Mac. When this error occurred, I just changed the settings, and the scanner worked correctly.

The unit also features a fax machine. When connected to a phone line, we were able to send and receive clean and legible faxes without any problems. We thought it strange that the printer’s number keys were displayed in two horizontal rows rather than the standard three-by-four numeric pad you find on a telephone, but this was simple enough to get used to.

Speed

In terms of print speed, the C7180 turned in impressive numbers, keeping up with the swiftest of our recently tested MFPs. It took just 16 seconds for the printer to spit out a one-page Microsoft Word document and less than two minutes to print a four-page PDF document at the Best Quality. Scanning speeds were less impressive: the unit took more than two minutes to digitize an 8-by-10-inch photo at 600 dpi. Macworld generally tests inkjets using the USB 2 connection, but we tested this unit over wired Ethernet as well and found the results to be comparable, and even a touch faster at scanning.

Quality

To evaluate the output quality of the C7180, we assembled a panel of Macworld editors to view several different types of documents and assign a rating of Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor. The HP received marks of Good for half of the six tests and Very Good for the other half, with high scores for the fine lines and graphics, printed Word document, and scanning tests. The photo test print came out a little dark, losing detail in shadow areas, but still got a Good grade from the jury.

Timed Trials: Print

10-page Word test 1:45
1-page Word test 0:16
22MB Photoshop image 4:15
4-page PDF 1:52

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

Timed Trials: Scan

8-by-10-inch Photo, 600 dpi scan 2:03
4-by-6-inch Photo, 1,200dpi scan 2:40

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

jury tests: print

Graphics: Fine Lines and Gradients Very Good
22MB Photoshop Image Quality Good
Text Quality Very Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

jury tests: scan/copy

Color Good
Clarity Very Good
Copy Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

specifications

Print Resolution 4800x1200dpi (color); 1200 dpi (black)
Scan Resolution: optical 4800 dpi
Max Scanning Bit Depth (output) 48 bit
Connection USB 2.0; Ethernet; PictBridge; wireless; Bluetooth
Installed RAM/Max RAM 64MB
Paper Sizes Legal, letter, 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, borderless panorama (4x10, 4x11, 4x12)
Cost to Replace Ink/ Toner Cartridges $68 ($18 for black; $10 each for cyan, magenta, yellow, light magenta and light cyan
Weight (in pounds) 26
Dimensions (height x depth x width in inches) 8.5x18.3x15.4
Paper Capacity 100-sheet input tray; 20-sheet automated 4x6 photo paper tray
Special Features 3.6-inch LCD; transparency scanning.

Macworld’s buying advice

Although we ran into a few software quirks, the HP Photosmart C7180’s features, connection options, and solid print and scan quality make it a fine fit for those looking for a good all-around, fully featured, color inkjet MFP.

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab manager. Brian Chen is Macworld ’s assistant editor. ]

HP Photosmart C7180

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