HP Photosmart Wireless All-in-One (B109n) review
The Wi-Fi is attractive at this price, but the miniscule screen and all-round quality ultimately disappoint
Review Date: 17 Nov 2009
Reviewed By: David Bayon
Price when reviewed: £77 (£89 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
In an effort to simplify the complex model names on today's printers, HP has gone to the other extreme with its latest range of all-in-ones. Meet the wonderfully vague HP Photosmart Wireless All-in-One - searching for which online is an uphill task without the B109n code discreetly stamped on the inside of the device.
The range has switched from white to black, but the Photosmart design hasn't changed too much. The paper sits in view on the fold-out front tray, and prints feed through the engine and come back out to the same tray. While this gives room for 80 sheets in the input tray, for output anything more than 15 sheets will spill over due to the lack of space. The rotating stopper is also flimsy.
The B109n offers SD, MMC and Memory Stick card slots on its control column, beneath what we'd politely describe as a cheap, retro mobile phone screen. At 1.4in across, it can fit only three menu options at any time, in order to make room for the unnecessary fixed TouchSmart frame - capacitive controls to go back, cancel or confirm on the left of the screen, and to choose the three options on the right. The range of options is therefore so limited, it's an interface that bizarrely manages to restrict rather than enhance the user experience.
The B109n does cost around £30 less than the A-Listed Canon MP640, so the restrained feature set is understandable and the inclusion of wireless is something few others we've seen at this price have managed. It's also quite quick, notching 5.9ppm in mono and 4.2ppm in colour - only a little way behind the Canon. It also produced a best quality 6 x 4in print in 56 seconds, and only the A4 photo showed any major slowdown - its three minutes being nearly twice that of the Canon.
The quality from the four individual inks wasn't quite up to recent Photosmart standards, though. Output was pale, with areas of solid black appearing dark grey and photos lacking any real punch and contrast. The scanner had a similar issue, although with a bit of tweaking in the drivers this is fixable - bear in mind the bloated 133MB HP install package contains an awfully patronising scanner driver, advising you not to stray from the defaults any time you try to improve your results.
There's better news when we examine running costs. The four HP 364 inks are available in XL variants, at £11 for each colour and £17.50 for black. This works out at a reasonable 6.6p per colour page and 2.2p for mono, so the HP is a decent all-round economy choice - the speed is good and the inclusion of Wi-Fi belies that price. That saving is ultimately reflected in the quality of the prints and of the device itself, however, so if wireless is a must we'd recommend spending a bit more on the superior Canon MP640.
Author: David Bayon
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