Photo output is generally very good, with smooth gradations of colour, well represented shades of the main blues, greens and reds in our test image and a better than average level of shadow detail. Supplementary images, which we printed on 15 x 10cm photo blanks, also looked sharp and well-detailed.
As with all manufacturers, HP claims some pretty silly speeds for its machines. Rather than the stated 32ppm and 24ppm for black and colour print, respectively, we actually saw 5ppm and 2.65ppm. Neither of these is very impressive and it's about time we had ISO test methods for rating printer speed. It would nip this escalating hype in the bud.
For an inkjet all-in-one, the Photosmart C5280 is surprisingly noisy. It's not that bad when printing, but peaks at 56dBA when feeding paper and at 62dBA when moving its scan head. HP usually attends well to mechanical noise, but someone let the design slip here.
The Photosmart C5280 uses two ink cartridges, one black and the other tri-colour and both of these use Vivera inks. You can substitute a colour or greyscale photo cartridge for the tri-colour one to give you six colour photo printing.
Each of the two main cartridges is available in standard and XL versions, with the XL cartridges providing 1,000 black pages and 580 colour ones, to the ISO standard. With the Internet prices we found for these cartridges, we calculated page costs to be 2.58p for black and 49.8p for colour pages, including plain and Premium Plus Photo paper, respectively. 44p of the colour cost came from the paper, so these figures are on the high side, but aren't the dearest we've seen from an inkjet.
This is a good looking all-in-one, but in comparison with earlier machines we're not happy with the print quality, the noise of the scan head and the lack of a PictBridge socket. For these reasons, the Photosmart C5280 doesn't score as well as we thought it would upon opening the box.