Nobody can deny MFDs (multifunction devices) offer a lot for the money. But when MFDs often cost no more than a dedicated inkjet printer, are you having to compromise too much on quality? In the case of the C3180, happily, you aren't.
This is the age of the sub-£100 MFD and, at £75 inc. VAT, the C3180 is modestly priced. As you'd expect, the specifications are hardly eye-popping. Rare is the MFD that can't give a print resolution of 4,800x1,200, though the scanner's optical resolution of 1,200x2,400 is harder to find at this price.
The C3180 is pleasingly styled, with a polished exterior and a range of helpful buttons. The memory card drive is a nice touch – although those seeking PictBridge support are out of luck – and since this is an HP device, you can rely on it having a very user-friendly installation process. We would prefer to see the output tray improved upon, however. It has a hard time preventing paper falling on the floor.
As far as print speeds go, the HP performed excellently. Few MFDs can match 10.5ppm (pages per minute) on mono text, although for decent results you'll prefer to plump for the second-fastest quality setting. Even here, though, the HP can generate 6.2ppm. At its best setting the HP's text is very good, but you'll have to settle for just 1.9ppm.
On graphics the HP speeds ahead, producing 7.1ppm in its lowest quality mode. The results are marred by banding but, as low settings go, this one looks nice and moves quickly. And at the second-fastest setting, it achieves very bright and vivid results at the rate of 2.7ppm, while astonishing quality is available at 1.5ppm. The HP's scanning facilities are fine, with strong, realistic results at a relatively fast speed.