Although it may have attracted the most coverage for its new range of inkjet all-in-ones, Lexmark is not the only printer maker to include large LCD touchscreens in its new models. HP's Photosmart Premium C309g, aimed at the home enthusiast with a taste for photo printing, has an 89mm touchscreen which, along with its surrounding touch buttons, is the only control on the machine, apart from its physical power button.
HP has gone out of its way to design this machine with very smooth, simple lines. The top cover, gloss black with a series of embossed geometric lines, is reminiscent of some recent HP laptops and lifting the lid gives easy access to the flatbed scanner, though there's little allowance in the hinge for scanning books.
The fixed, angled control panel has a raised rim with the touchscreen set almost as a separate unit on a five-position hinge. The screen itself is surrounded by six, single-function touch buttons, which illuminate when their functions are available. This is a capacitative screen, with a bright backlight and large icons. It's very easy to use and is a bit more sensitive than Lexmark's. It has a 7:5.5 aspect ratio, which is better for photo previews than a widescreen.
Below the control panel is the usual paper tray arrangement, which can take both plain paper and photo blanks. The printer draws the photo tray into itself when you select photo media. A pull-out paper stop prevents printed A4 sheets from sliding onto the desk, but increases the printer's footprint quite considerably.
Two memory card slots, for SD, MemoryStick and xD cards are set next to a dual-purpose USB socket, which connects to PictBridge cameras and USB memory drives. At the back connections include USB and Ethernet, but the Photosmart Premium C309g also supports wireless networking.
Hardware setup is a cinch; just clip the five cartridges - there are pigmented and photo blacks - into the print head and away you go. Wireless setup is also very simple, as the firmware wizard hunts for available networks and the touchscreen presents a keyboard for entering a pass code. Installation of the support software then finds the networked printer and connection is painless.
The rest of the software installation provides the usual basic file management and OCR, as well as useful applets like HP Smart Web Printing. There's driver support on the supplied CD for Windows from XP onwards and OS X from version 10.4.