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HP Photosmart Pro B9180 - HP Photosmart Pro B9180

By Simon Williams


  • Recommended by TR
HP Photosmart Pro B9180


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Pages printed with the B9180 are of very high quality. HP uses pigmented inks throughout, to give excellent fade resistance, accredited at over 200 years by the Wilhelm testing lab. There are two blacks: matt for text print and photo black for images, and the other extra colours are light cyan, light magenta and light grey, as well as the regular cyan, magenta and yellow.

Colours are vibrant, but well controlled, so images don’t look over-excited when they’re not intended to. Our colour test image was one of the best we’ve ever seen. Reds, greens and blues are all well-rendered, looking natural and true. Detail is fine, with sharp edges and intricate lineage and colour gradation is smooth, with no noticeable bands.

Colour print on plain paper is also very well handled with clean, stipple-free fills and plain text is clear and precise. Black print isn’t quite as dense as we might like, and black and white images look a little darker than the originals, but this is nit-picking.

Print speeds are good for this class of printer, and noticeably better than from the cheaper HP Photosmart 8750, tested a few months back. Our five-page text document took 1 minute 18 seconds to print, which is fair for a machine designed for photo printing. The five-page text and graphics print took only 21 seconds longer, but it’s when you look at the A3+ print, coming in at 2:12, you realise speed hasn’t been sacrificed on the altar of print quality.

As an inkjet, you’d expect the sound levels to be low and in most places they were below what we could measure. There are a few pumping cycles and clicks while the printer is maintaining and recirculating its inks, but these shouldn’t prove annoying.

During installation of the B9180, we inadvertently interrupted its calibration cycle. We ran it again, so by the end it had printed six, A4 test pages. At this point, the printer reported having used nearly half of its matt black ink, and between 20 and 30 per cent of most of the others. We assume this is a problem with ink estimation software, as HP quotes 870, 15 x 10cm prints from a composite of the seven colour cartridges.

Even at this usage level, the printer costs around 55p per print on A4 paper, mainly due to the high cost of HP’s Advanced Photo Paper, which we couldn’t find for less than 44p a sheet. The price of this media should fall, though, so the print cost should also fall over time.

Oddly, the black print cost for a five per cent text page comes in at just 1.5p, low for an inkjet. Again, the low cost of plain paper is a big factor in keeping this down.


HP’s new pigment-based Vivera ink technology takes a lot of beating. The vibrancy of colour prints is superb, marred only by slight darkening of black and white, which may need some compensation. Put simply, if we wanted a medium format inkjet photo printer and had less than £500 to spend, we’d buy the Photosmart Pro B9180.

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Damon T. Miller

September 13, 2008, 10:30 pm

Beware of this printer. I bought one a little over a year ago and was never able to print more than ten pictures reliably. The paper would jam halfway through nearly every print job. The few times the printer managed to complete a job, the results were decent, however these were few and far between.

After approximately 10-11 months of trying various paper and setting combinations, I finally gave in and called HP's tech support. I'd read many reviews of this experience and I was prepared for the worst. Sadly, my expectations were confirmed.

The first 45 minutes of my initial call was spent trying to navigate HP's support queues. Eventually I really someone who walked through the usual "level one" tests, e.g. confirm power, confirm paper, etc. I've worked in enterprise IT for ten years so this was a bit annoying but I was pleasant throughout, recognizing that the guy had a job to do.

Eventually the conclusion was that I should try different paper. I agreed, and he promised HP would send a small bundle for testing. After waiting three weeks, I called to check on the order and found that it had been cancelled. The reason given was that the printer was no longer under warranty. Excellent work, HP.

I'm sad to say that this experience is precisely what I had expected--an infuriating waste of time. With no further recourse, I took the printer to a nearby dumpster and bid farewall.

In short, don't buy this printer. And if you do, never, ever call HP for support. It will be a complete waste of time.


Jeremy Greenaway

January 20, 2009, 10:19 pm

This printer is mechanically appalling, and HP offer NO after-sales support whatsoever. Immediately it is out of warranty (one year), HP will wash their hands of it. No servicing. No repairs. Nowt!

I have had mine for 18 months. Within six months of purchase it shed bits of the paper feed (little knurled wheels and a rubber roller). I managed to replace the rubber, but not the wheels. In the most part I was doing A3+ straight-feed heavyweight paper giclees using HP inks and either HP or Hahnemuhle paper. So, all according to HPs requirements.

A few weeks after that, it started to give software error message, and stop halfway through a print cycle - costly on a long A3 width pano print! I was away for a few weeks on shoots etc and when I came back had a lot to get through. The B9180 did a couple of dozen A3+ posters for a client before it once again died. This time terminally. In total, it logged less than 700 print cycles. Repeated contacts with the on-line 'support' at HP US (none in Europe) failed totally to grasp the problem or provide a solution.

This cost more than 𧺬 new in 2007. When it did work, it was unbelievably noisy, violent - it would shake its trolley around the floor - and had horrendous ink consumption, constantly wanting to recalibrate itself.

Avoid this machine and HP printers generally AT ALL COSTS! Sadly, I sold my elderly but incredibly reliable Canon A3 colour printer just before this thing died. There's a message there somewhere!

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