HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One C310a
- — 15 March, 2011 22:00
|Name||Inkjet printer: HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One C310a|
|At a glance:||Printer-based apps for direct access to printable material online,Prints most image and document file formats via email,ePrinting is slow to print and slow to give feedback,Picture quality is good, but colours aren’t true|
|Summary:||You get a lot for the price of this printer, but some of HP’s new technology needs to be perfected.|
HP recently released its latest line of printers, and they’re not just there to print black and white copy onto plain A4 anymore. The HP Photosmart incorporates some of the best features of smartphones into a printer: a touchscreen interface, apps, wireless printing and e-printing. It’s a much needed update to an old technology that’s struggling to be relevant as paper documents become less and less necessary.
The default settings on the Photosmart Premium didn’t produce great quality colour photos on photo paper, and it was even worse on plain A4. With a little bit of tweaking of the preferences, though, we managed to get some very high-quality prints. The colour was vibrant (although some of the colour appeared too vibrant, as if some HP software had deliberately “corrected” it so it was no longer true to the original image), the contrast great, and the sharpness was impressive. Unfortunately there was a certain amount of “banding” on some of the images – clear vertical columns running down the image that shouldn’t have been there. Photo prints also got smudged sometimes as a result of wet ink.
Plain text prints weren’t the sharpest we’ve ever seen, but smudging wasn’t too bad in that department.
Copy quality was slightly above average, with successive copies producing gentle blurring rather than any great, sudden loss of detail or colour accuracy.
The e-printing capability means that the printer has its own email address, to which anyone can send prints. After printing our standard set of test images, we handed out the printer’s email address to a couple of other PC World staff members, so they could email attachments to be printed. We successfully printed JPEG, PNG, PDF, .doc, and .docx files without any trouble, but the printer wouldn’t support the TIFF image we tried to send it.
While e-printed documents printed on A4 paper as intended, photographs were automatically printed on the 4 x 6-inch paper we’d loaded into the photo tray. In all our testing, we couldn’t find a way to make emailed photographs print on A4 paper while 4 x 6 was available.
All e-print documents go via HP’s server, which should helpfully tell you when its received your job, or if there’s been a problem. Sadly, we were getting “print completed” or “print failed” email messages several hours after the fact. When we did receive them, there was no way to tie these messages to specific print jobs – attaching a thumbnail of the image we’d sent, or at least including the filename, would have been nice.
One of the coolest features of the Photosmart is the range of applications you can use from its touchscreen. Most of the apps are for kids – such as the Dreamworks app that lets you print colouring pages, puzzles and masks – but there are some practical things too, like an app that prints off maps for you, and one called HP Cards that can print a selection of cards for every holiday.
Unfortunately, using these apps is made difficult by the printer’s resistive touchscreen. Sometimes we would lightly touch it, intending to scroll across the screen, and it would open an app. At other times repeated foreceful pressing couldn’t select the option we wanted. A more finger-sensitive capacitive touchscreen would be much easier to use given the swipe-gesture-based interface – but more expensive.
While the Photosmart does photos and does them quite well – if you get the settings right – some of HP’s new tech needs to be honed, and the finicky ePrint is a nice idea let down by its multiple small flaws. If you want nice – not perfect – photo printing at a decent price, the Photosmart does a good job. If you just want something to do very basic colour and black and white printing, the Photosmart can do it, but you’ll be paying more than you need to.