HP Photosmart C3180
Quick presentation and ergonomics
HP is by far number one in multifunction printers. They have a reputation for reliability and offering solid quality products. Knowing this, choosing one of their machines when we aren’t too sure what to take may seem like the right thing to do.
In the concrete good points, we have reduced bulkiness, which in the end is important. They also have cartridges with integrated print heads, which means they are changed regularly, assuring print quality throughout the life of the product. Changing the heads also means less risk of clogging. Epson and Canon owners know what it is to launch a manual head cleaning to correct failing magenta, a temperamental blue, etc. Here, theoretically you won’t need to do this.
The inconvenience of HP cartridges is that they aren’t too environmentally friendly. Already, they are monoblock and are changed as soon as one of the three magenta/yellow/blue inks are empty. This could mean that some of the others are still full. Next, we not only throw away cartridges that aren’t just foam and plastic like with Canon and Epson, but the whole system of print heads is made of metal.HP
users, don’t hesitate to send back your cartridges to HP when they offer recycling, or you may drop them off in some stores.
Coming back to the C3180, we have before us a particularly economic product and for this reason it is attractive. This low price is justified for at least two reasons: absence of a color screen, you have to upgrade to the C4180 for this option, the cartridges that come with the C3180, are the reference numbers 342 (color) and 336 (black), instead of the 343 and 337 (which can also be used with the C3180) and come with the C4180. These first two empty rather quickly. It’s not necessarily a good bet to save the few euros that make the difference between these two products, as the ergonomics aren’t as good and cartridges have less ink.
Quality of printing and scanning
HP’s reputation for quality in office printing is not exaggerated. However, they should not rest on their laurels too long because at one time HP was well ahead of the competition. This isn’t the case today. The precision of characters is still above average, curves are especially well formed and the C3180 is comparable to laser printers. On the other hand in graphics and images on 80 g/m² paper, there is a slight interaction between colors, which affects readability. On this point, the competition is sometimes better and even an outsider like Brother, masters the juxtaposition of colors.
In photos, if you go with the classic color + black combination, colors will be lively, rather true, but ink drops are easily distinguishable. No one will be fooled into thinking they come from a photo lab. However, if you choose to replace the black cartridge with the (expensive) photo one, prints become more costly but nicer and the ink drops disappear.
Another reason to go a class higher, is that HP limited the C3180, which is a common practice for this manufacturer. Product lines are identical in terms of the print motor and models are differentiated by additional functions. In fact, the more you go towards the entry level, the more the speed is limited.
Concretely, this translates into an office print speed that is 10% slower on the C3180 and photo print speeds that are twice as long. All of this for strictly the same quality.
Here it gets complicated. HP sells its C3180 with a 342/336 cartridge kit, but as we said above it can also take the more expensive but longer lasting 343 and 337. Should we make things even more confusing? We can add another optional photo for better image quality.
Cartridge 342 (color) + 336 (black) : 200 of office autonomy or 55 4x6 inch (10x15 cm). Office print /photo costs : 19 cents/36 cents.
Cartridge 343 (color) + 337 (black) : 350 pages of office autonomy or 85 4x6 inch 10x15 cm. Office print /photo costs: 13 cents/29 cents.
Cartridge 343 (color) + 348 (photo): 110 10x15 cm. Photo cost: 49 cents.
For photos, there is actually another interesting option, a kit composed of a 343 color cartridge + 60 sheets, for about 17.50 euros. This turns out to be 29 cents per print, ink + paper, and at the same time after the 60 photos, you will still have some ink left (because the autonomy of this cartridge is around 85 photos).
A serious defect?
The HP tool suite! HP has you install a bunch of extremely heavy tools, which load with Windows and can even affect your PC’s performances. For this reason, installation is long and uninstalling is even worse.
Another classic HP defect is that the scanner is of poor quality. In addition, its automatic processing of images is heavy and degrading. It’s suited for an occasional use to photocopy a document, but for fine editing forget it.