Take the HP Photosmart Premium Fax all-in-one printer, strip away the fax machine and automatic document feeder and you have the HP Photosmart C6380. It retains all the features you need to bring your photos to life: a 9,600 by 2,400dpi flatbed scanner, dual paper feed printer, standalone copier, multi-purpose card reader and wireless networking capability.
After thorough testing, our only gripe is that the output quality suffers from minor hiccups and lighter saturation than more expensive printers on the market. Still, the C6380 hits the sweet spot for the photo enthusiast who wants an all-in-one printer without the hassle of a fax machine. It's available for around £110 if you shop around.
Design and features
Compared with the rounded corners and circular shape of the Premium Fax, the C6380 has a much leaner figure. Its short stature (452 by 206 by 406mm) and the rectangular control panel across the front of the device mean it looks like a classic printer, but with a modern twist: a 61mm (2.4-inch) colour LCD pops up out of the front-left corner.
The LCD screen swivels back and forth, and you can even set it flush against the printer in a variety of positions. The on-screen menus are easy to navigate, and we especially like the fact that the top corner of the homescreen contains a small graphical representation of a cartridge that shows you when it's time to buy more ink.
Whereas other printers clutter up the control panel with unnecessary buttons and stickers, the C6380 keeps things admirably simple. Across the front, there's a directional pad and a corresponding 'OK' button; a few photo-editing shortcuts, like zoom and red-eye removal; direct copy and scan buttons; and a 'print photos' button that pulls images directly from the card reader on the bottom of the device. There's a PictBridge-compatible USB port for direct printing from a digital camera as well.
The C6380 handles inbound paper and outbound prints with dual paper trays that sit on top of one another at the base of the printer. HP continues to impress us with its dual input trays. There's one for standard 8.5 by 11 inch paper, and a separate drawer for smaller 3.5 by 5 inch photo paper, eliminating the need to swap out paper. It's a hugely convenient system that will save you plenty of time and hassle over the course of this printer's life cycle. The driver comes set-up to automatically choose the correct type of media for a particular job, but you can manually override it.
The C6380 is also equipped with 802.11b/g wireless connectivity. A small LED on the far right of the control panel indicates connection status with a green light. HP has streamlined the wireless set-up process for all of its printers and the C6380 is no exception. You can either access the wireless 'wizard' directly through the settings in the printer's menu or use the driver CD to set up an ad-hoc wireless connection via USB. Both methods are incredibly easy and should have you up and running with a Mac or PC in less than 5 minutes. Finally, there's an Ethernet port on the back of the printer for connecting the C6380 directly to a wired network.
In our experience, no other printer comes close to offering anything like HP's full-service Photosmart Essential software. Easy to use, it takes seconds to install during the initial set-up, guiding you along the photo-printing process with both text and videos that clearly illustrate the steps involved. Photosmart Essential is exactly what casual users need to edit and alter their photos, especially if they don't want to dive into dedicated -- that is, complicated -- editing software.