The HP Photosmart C8180 is a colour inkjet multifunction printer that's designed to be a one-stop photo-processing shop rather than an office workhorse. Its wealth of features - most notably, a DVD-rewritable drive - comes at a significant cost, however. Visit Photo Advisor for reviews of the latest digital photography products.

Inserting photo media into one of the HP Photosmart C8180's front slots summons the Photosmart Express menu on the control panel's LCD. You can even send an image from a Bluetooth-equipped phone.

Printing options include simple album formats, various layouts, and even video-frame capture (which we didn't try). The bundled HP Photosmart Essentials software offers more tools. The HP Photosmart C8180 has a dedicated input tray for 4-by-6-inch photo paper - that's the size you normally get family snaps printed out at.

The scanner platen (with an included holder for slides and negatives) digitizes such hard photo media. The HP Photosmart C8180's six total inks include light cyan and light magenta, for a broader palette when printing photos.

Included is a rewritable DVD drive with LightScribe - that means it can etch a design on to one side of a LightScribe-compatible disc. You can type out a simple word label from the HP Photosmart C8180's control panel, or you can use the bundled Roxio Creator Basic application to create more complex images.

The process is more straightforward from the HP Photosmart C8180; in the Roxio software, the LightScribe features are buried in a submenu. The etching time varies with the complexity of the design.

One note: the drive works with your PC only if the HP Photosmart C8180 is connected directly to the PC via USB; if it's networked via the machine's ethernet or Wi-Fi ports, you can use it only through the control panel.

For reviews of the latest IT products for your business, visit Business Advisor

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The HP Photosmart C8180 is a colour inkjet multifunction printer that's designed to be a one-stop photo-processing shop rather than an office workhorse. Its wealth of features - most notably, a DVD-rewritable drive - comes at a significant cost, however. Visit Photo Advisor for reviews of the latest digital photography products.

The HP Photosmart C8180's tiltable, touchscreen LCD is a highlight. Its dynamic, well-designed menus make it easy to choose a major function and drill down to adjust settings.

The photo-handling bias means that the HP Photosmart C8180 will not be the best MFP for everyone.

Despite its high price, the HP Photosmart C8180 lacks more work-oriented features such as an automatic document feeder, faxing capability, and automatic duplexing. (Manual duplexing is possible, with helpful on-screen prompts.) The HP Photosmart C8180's 100-sheet main input tray is on the small side, too.

Printed images on plain paper look faded but detailed; using HP's special papers made the same images look as good as the best we've seen from other units. Copy and scan samples were good overall, as was print speed in our tests: an average of 7 pages per minute for text pages, 2.7 ppm for graphics. Ink costs are reasonable.

For reviews of the latest IT products for your business, visit Business Advisor

HP Photosmart C8180: Specs

  • Colour inkjet multifunction printer
  • quoted print speeds: up to 34ppm black, up to 33ppm colour
  • 4x6in photos: 10 seconds
  • up to 4800dpi resolution
  • 4800x4800dpi optical resolution scanning
  • 96-bit colour, industry-leading 6-colour scanning
  • up to 34 copies-per-minute (cpm) in black and up to 33cpm in colour
  • up to 4800x1200dpi black copying with 1200 scan dpi
  • up to 4800 optimised dpi
  • 447x387x215mm
  • 11.4kg
  • USB 2.0
  • compatible with Windows Vista/XP/ 2000 XP3
  • Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher
  • Colour inkjet multifunction printer
  • quoted print speeds: up to 34ppm black, up to 33ppm colour
  • 4x6in photos: 10 seconds
  • up to 4800dpi resolution
  • 4800x4800dpi optical resolution scanning
  • 96-bit colour, industry-leading 6-colour scanning
  • up to 34 copies-per-minute (cpm) in black and up to 33cpm in colour
  • up to 4800x1200dpi black copying with 1200 scan dpi
  • up to 4800 optimised dpi
  • 447x387x215mm
  • 11.4kg
  • USB 2.0
  • compatible with Windows Vista/XP/ 2000 XP3
  • Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher

OUR VERDICT

Serious digital shutterbugs will love the HP Photosmart C8180's do-it-all photo processing capabilities. Everyone else should consider HP's more businesslike OfficeJet Pro L7680 or Canon's Pixma MX700, which offers a more balanced blend of photo and office features.

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