HP Photosmart C7280 review

14 Feb 2008

A well-equipped wireless multifunction device, but quality and speed aren't quite up with the best.

Price when reviewed: 
222inc VAT
4

In recent times, the PC Pro all-in-one A List category has been dominated by Canon, first with its wonderful Pixma MP600, then by the updated MP610. But in our last Labs HP who was hot on Canon's heels, so a new Photosmart launch always has the potential to shake things up.

The C7280's print speeds are hit and miss, however. It can churn out mono documents at an impressive 17ppm in draft mode, but normal mode and colour speeds won't trouble its rival, the MP610.

A 6 x 4in photo took 56secs at best quality - only seven seconds slower than the Canon - but our A4 photomontage took more than four minutes to finish.

The C7280's scanner fared better, with fast previews and basic document scanning - 13secs for an A4 sheet at 150ppi.

Photos took a little longer, but on the whole it kept pace with the MP610 pretty well. Copying, reliant as it is on the both the scanner and the print engine, again fell back to more underwhelming speeds.

Quality is more consistent. Gradients showed no evidence of banding, and solid areas of colour were accurately reproduced. When printing on high-quality glossy photo paper, results were even better, with colours more vivid, and edges sharply defined.

The results weren't far short of the specialist, near-photo lab quality prints of our A-Listed standalone inkjet, the Canon Pixma ip4500.

The C7280's range of features also helps to make up for its inconsistencies. A card reader for most formats sits on the front and feeds images to the 2.25in LCD screen, which also has the ability to display a cut-down version of HP's Photosmart software, dubbed Express, for basic editing without a PC.

Then there's the 802.11g wireless capability: just enter the enter the name of your network's SSID and its security key via the LCD screen, and you're ready to print. Compared to the wired-USB setup method of cheaper wireless models like the Lexmark X4550, it's a breeze.

Refilling the HP doesn't break the bank, either, as it uses HP's 363 inks. Back in our last inkjet Labs we found these to be long-lasting and economical, with official cartridges that are cheap to replace.

It's not going to challenge the Canon Pixma MP610's dominance, mainly because it costs nearly twice as much and can't match it in terms of its overall performance. But the C7280's built-in wireless capability does add appeal to a decent, if unspectacular device.