The C4180 is a compact All-in-one (AIO) device designed to produce fast general document printing but with the addition of an extra photo ink cartridge so you can print photos as well.

It's small size is achieved by using a u-bend paper feed design and this involves paper being loaded print side down, fed into the printer and turned back out and over, delivering the paper on top of the waiting stack of plain sheets.

On paper, claimed print times look great: photos in 25-seconds and up to 30ppm for text/general documents from the printers tricolour and black cartridge or tricolour and photo-cartridge.

That’s fine if you want basic, however use the borderless full A4 setting and the maximum (optimised 4800 x 1200dpi) print setting and then it takes around 17-minutes to print one A4 borderless photo. This does drop to 10-miuntes for a borderless A4 photo at the (lower) "Best" setting however either way its still considerably longer than that suggest 25 seconds.

It wouldn't be so bad if the print quality was worth the wait. In Best mode, we found obvious linear print patterns and even on the printer's top dpi setting, they are still all too visible.

On the upside, colour rendition is excellent making this a printer great for printing graphics over top quality photos.

As with most AIO models, the C4180 offers direct printing from a range of memory cards including CF, SD/MMC, xD, Memory Stick (and Duo) cards and everything can be viewed on the units 6cm colour screen. You can also apply basic edits to prints without a PC, which is a nice touch.

On-screen instructions provide simple steps to getting your photos printed and, if connected to a PC, the C4180 acts as a memory card reader so that you can upload your images as well if required.

Users can opt to use the C4180 with or without the PC when it comes to scanning or copying and the unit's A4 flatbed scanner provides an optical resolution up to 1200 x 2400ppi (an optimised 19200ppi resolution is available) while copying resolution is 1200 x 1200ppi.

48-bit colour depth and the top optical resolution can create massive scan files, over 500MB in some cases, and scanning quality is remarkably good overall.

Dust removal and colour correction add some nice tools to the scan options along with descreen (to stop moiré patterns) and invert colour settings. However, the copying quality is really only adequate.

Grumbles for us include the scanner lid not being articulated for vertical movement so anything thicker than a few sheets of paper means the lid angles upwards, leaking light, which can compromise your scans of larger items such as a book.

Another problem we encountered is a the paper feeder holds just 100 sheets while the delivery "tray" simply spits paper out back onto the waiting pile of unprinted paper. It also only holds 20-sheets. So handholding bigger print runs is essential.

Verdict

The HP Photosmart C4180 is an AIO built to a price. The use of HP’s new long lasting Vivera inks helps, as does the good scanning capability.

However, we found the photo print quality leaves something to be desired, meaning for us this machine is a compromise to far, even at this great price.