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After testing HP's new flagship Photosmart Premium C309 a couple of weeks back, it's interesting to look at the mid-range model. Costing less than half the price, the Photosmart Wireless B109 still has some of the key features of its more expensive sibling, such as wireless connection, touch-button controls and the same print engine, and even gives it a run for its money on print speed.
All dressed out in high-gloss black plastic, a bit last year and an absolute magnet for fingerprints, the B109 is still a smart, well-designed device. The Contact Image Sensor (CIS) scanner sits low on the machine, increasing its height only slightly and to the left of the scanner cover is a convenient little control panel.
With a small, 37mm LCD display in the middle, it has three touch-buttons down either side, with fixed functions labelled Return, Cancel and OK down the left and soft function keys down the right, with labels coming from menus on the display.
HP makes no attempt to integrate the paper tray into the body of the machine, instead designing it to fold up against the front panel. Fold down and swing out the extra support and you have a feed tray for either plain or photo paper. Paper feeds out to finish up on top of the feed stack.
Below the control panel on the left are two memory card slots, for SD, MemoryStick and xD cards, but there's no PictBridge or USB socket, which is a shame. At the back is a USB connection, but no Ethernet. The only network connection is a wireless one.
Wireless installation involves connecting the machine temporarily via USB and HP thoughtfully provides a cable for this function, but other machines, including the Photosmart Premium C309, can manage to make the link without the need for a cable.
Drivers are provided for Windows and OS X and can be downloaded for various incarnations of Linux. Other software includes the HP Solutions Centre and a copy of Windows Live Gallery, which we imagine Microsoft is keen to get into the market.
The four separate ink cartridges, with designs very similar to those used in Canon PIXMA machines, snap into the semi-permanent head and after you've printed an alignment page and re-scanned it, you're ready to go.
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