HP Photosmart C4280

An excellent family multifunction

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HP Photosmart C4280
  • HP Photosmart C4280
  • HP Photosmart C4280
  • HP Photosmart C4280

Pros

  • Great scan quality, cost efficient

Cons

  • Small LCD screen, some printing issues

Bottom Line

The HP Photosmart C4280 provides home users with an affordable and convenient multifunction. While there are some minor problems with photo quality, the C4280 is an excellent choice for all-purpose printing.

Would you buy this?

The Photosmart C4280 marks the mid-point for HP's inkjet multifunction range. At the same price point as the Epson Stylus CX7300, the C4280 provides a much friendlier user experience than the Epson, but does decline somewhat in photo printing situations.

Physical build is somewhat more plastic than usual for HP products. Tray hinges are slightly more rigid than is comfortable, though there is no real danger of using too much force in order to accomplish a desired task. The device isn't too bulky, and the use of a front paper tray allows for the printer to be placed in cramped spots if required.

The C4280 connects simply through a USB 2.0 port, and provides users with a multi-card reader capable of using SD, MMC, CompactFlash, MemoryStick and XD memory cards. Unfortunately, the multifunction lack a secondary USB port for interfacing with PictBridge-capable cameras and mobile phones, though this shouldn't affect too many users.

One of the major problems we had with the Epson Stylus CX7300 was its photo printing method, as users had to print an index sheet and scan this sheet in again in order to print the desired photos. This clunky method is replaced in the C4280 by a small colour LCD screen. While too small for the photo editing tasks found on the Photosmart C6280 or the Photosmart C7280, it's functional enough to allow users to choose which photos they wish to print.

Printing speeds are average. The C4280 is capable of printing at speeds up to 20ppm for draft quality text documents, though this quickly slows to 6ppm when the quality is increased to normal. Similar differences are seen when printing text documents with graphical elements, managing 13.6ppm at draft quality but only 2.6ppm at normal. Although there is a noticeable quality difference between draft and normal quality graphical documents, text documents at draft quality are easily readable and will suffice for quick text printing needs.

At standard quality, 4x6in photo print in around 44secs, and A4 photos print at 2min15secs. These aren't the worst speeds we've seen, though we don't recommend the C4280 be used for high photo printing capacities in any case.

Standard printing quality is acceptable for the most part. Text is more accurate than that exemplified by the Epson Stylus CX7300, with clear and readable results across all quality settings. Draft quality text is slightly faded, though this mostly unnoticeable and definitely usable for everyday printing. Colour accuracy in graphical elements is fair, with some banding appearing in draft quality documents.

Photo printing is acceptable for basic photo printing needs, though some quality issues do arise in A4 photos. In comparison to the Epson Stylus CX7300, the C4280 yields much better and more realistic black levels. Where the CX7300 shows a small amount of reddish hue in black gradients, this is nonexistent in the C4280's test results. Vibrancy in yellow levels is also much better with the C4280, providing a brighter image when required. However, the C4280's main faults lie in its colour consistency. Vertical banding is an unfortunate but clear side effect of photo printing with this model, mainly noticeable in A4 photos at best quality. Although banding is usually a non-issue in 4x6in photos, it seems to be a problem here with banding issues disrupting what is otherwise a well printed photo. Based on these results, we would suggest that the C4280 be relegated to everyday document printing tasks with some photo printing tasks when required. However, it doesn't suit as a high capacity photo printer.

Scan quality is on par with HP's flagship multifunction, the Photosmart C7280. Test results showed that the C4280 provided a balanced image that is true to the original in regards to colour and detail. The C4280's 1200dpi scanning resolution suffices for most photo and document scanning needs, though might reveal some pixilation on close inspection.

Using high capacity cartridges, the C4280 is capable of a running cost as low as 18c per page. Although slightly more expensive than the HP Officejet Pro L7380 , this is quite impressive for a home multifunction. In comparison to the low capacity cartridges' 32.3c per page, it is recommended that users stick to the high capacity in order to cut costs.

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