- Review Price: £77.95
The small and neat all-in-one has been a staple of HP’s home printer offerings for several years, since its first effort, with the pastel ‘jelly bean’ control buttons. The latest sub-£80 C4580 has taken a few steps forward, but one or two back, as well.
This is a smartly styled all-in-one in ice white and pale grey, with what appears to be a slice scooped out of the left-hand top and front panels, revealing controls, a 38mm LCD display and twin memory card slots for Memory Stick, SD/MMC and xD cards.
When you pull down the front cover, it becomes the paper feed tray and an extra support swivels out from its back. Paper turns through 180 degrees and comes out to lie on top of the feed stack. Power is supplied from a separate, black-block power supply – it would be neater to have an internal supply, as with most Canon, Epson and Lexmark machines.
The driver, which can be set up for USB or Wi-Fi printing at installation time, is coupled to HP’s Photosmart Essentials editing software and IRIS OCR software for document scanning. A huge sticker on the top of the C4580 proclaims Easy Wi-Fi, but the setup instructions require you to first connect via USB, enter an SSID – and a WEP key, if your network uses security – and then scan for the printer.
This isn’t any easier than other Wi-Fi printers we’ve installed; in fact we’ve set up some Lexmark machines that don’t need to be connected via USB during Wi-Fi setup. This temporary connection can be inconvenient, if you intend to position the printer remotely from your PC, through lack of desk space.
Loading an HP printer is normally very simple, but in this case it’s quite fiddly. This is because there seems to be an obstruction inside the machine that makes it all too easy to under-insert paper, so it’s not in the right position for feeding. You can wiggle it into the right position – there are alignment marks for A4 and 15 x 10cm sheets – but a new purchaser might easily think the printer was broken.
Then there are the mis-feeds. Using the standard multi-purpose paper we use for all our printer tests, inkjet and laser, we saw several examples of two-sheet and multi-sheet mis-feeds during the 50 or so pages we printed. Sometimes the C4580 had the intelligence to feed them through separately as blank sheets, other times it fed several sheets and printed on the top one. Again, this mis-handling of paper is unusual for an HP printer.
HP quotes both draft and normal mode print speeds, claiming 8.9ppm in black and 5.3ppm in colour. Printing our 20-page black text document took 3:16, which equates to 6.12ppm and the five-page text and colour graphics test took 2:21, or 2.13ppm. Neither of these results is particularly quick, but they do well against similarly-priced competition.
A colour photo took 1:50 from a PC and 2:02 from an SD memory card, both of which are reasonable speeds for high quality photos, like the ones the C4580 produces. Colours are natural and definition is good, with foreground detail matched by subtle variations in backgrounds, where required. Using HP Advanced photo paper, results are superior to conventional photography and a good example of why the market has switched to digital prints.
Black text on plain paper looks good, too and while it will never rank with the dense blackness of laser print, it’s more than adequate for home and most business documents. Colour business graphics are sharp and well defined and HP’s Vivera inks do a good job of looking bright on uncoated paper. Text over colour is well registered and there’s little sign of ink running along the paper fibres.
It’s worth also mentioning colour photocopies, which come out very close in colour to the originals, with less of the fading so prevalent in this type of digital copy.
There are two ink cartridges in the C4580, one black and the other tri-colour. You can replace the black cartridge with a three-colour photo one, but from the photo results we saw, you would have to be very fastidious to need the extra tones. The best prices we could find for the two main cartridges, which are available in Standard and high yield Value versions, gives costs per page of 2.7p and 9.0p for black and colour, respectively.
The black page price is good, lower than several all-in-ones we’ve looked at recently, though the colour price is on the high side, unless you can find cartridges at lower prices than we could.
Unusually, it’s not all plain sailing with this HP machine and the problems with loading paper can make the machine awkward, particularly as it doesn’t have permanent paper trays and you need to load paper each time you use it. However, print quality is well up to HP’s high standards and print times are nothing untoward for an all-in-one in this price bracket. Wireless connectivity is a useful bonus, though setup is no easier than with other printers.
Score in detail
Print Speed 7
Print Quality 9