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HP Photosmart premium fax all-in-one inkjet MFP

If you don't need all of the extras, consider opting for its less expensive cousin

The name of this colour inkjet multifunction printer–HP (NYSE: HPQ) Photosmart Premium Fax All-in-One–clearly signals its ambition and its price (US$300 as of May 5, 2009). If you don’t need all of the extras included here, consider opting for its less expensive cousin, the HP Photosmart C6380.

The Photosmart Premium Fax All-in-One’s most notable feature is a nicely designed caddy system for printing labels on specially coated CD/DVD media. Another nice touch is the 50-sheet automatic document feeder’s ability to scan legal-size media (the scanner platen handles letter-size pages only). You also get a 50-sheet output tray and a 20-sheet photo tray. Duplex printing and scanning are automatic (letter-size only), the latter via the ADF only. The control panel is pretty nice, with a tiltable, 2.4-inch colour LCD.

Connectivity options include ethernet, USB, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth (for printing only). You can connect a camera and other media via the many slots, which accommodate CF; SD/xD; MS/Duo; and USB/PictBridge.

HP’s speed claims of 33 pages per minute for text and 32 ppm for graphics are achievable only in draft mode. In our tests at the machine’s default settings, the Photosmart Premium Fax All-in-One managed 11.3 ppm for text and 3.1 ppm for graphics–still relatively fast for an inkjet MFP. Print quality was reasonably good: Text looked fairly black and mostly crisp; and graphics, which looked blotchy (but mostly natural) on plain paper, sported smoother, better colouring on HP’s own special paper.

Ink costs are basically average across the board. The machine ships with a 250-page black cartridge for $12 (4.8 cents per page), and 300-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges for $10 each (3.3 cents per color per page). A fifth colour, photo black, is priced at $10; it is specced to last for 130 4-by-6-inch photos, and it might add a minuscule amount of ink to a typical business document. A typical full-colour document using all five colours would cost about 15.5 cents. High-yield versions are available, too: an 800-page black cartridge costs $35 (4.4 cents per page), while each 750-page color cartridge costs $18 (2.4 cents per colour per page). High-yield photo black should lasts for 290 4-by-6-inch photos. A page composed of all five colours would cost about 12 cents.

You get some really special features for with the Photosmart Premium Fax All-in-One’s high price. Its older cousin, the HP Photosmart C8180, provides an interesting variation of its own: It can write to CD/DVD media and etch labels onto LightScribe-compatible discs.