Color Printing, Ahoy!

Last weekend, I bought a printer. It’s an HP c410 — also known as the “HP Photosmart Premium Fax e-All-in-One Printer.” It’s the first printer I’ve bought in over a decade. MSRP on the printer was $299; Sam’s Club had it for $199.

The printer we’re all sharing at home right now came out of the trash, literally. It’s an old HP LaserJet that I pulled out of a trash dumpster back in 1996 while living in Spokane, and it still works today. Physically it’s connected to Mason’s computer (via a parallel cable), but from there it’s also shared across the network so any of our machines can print to it (assuming Mason’s printer is on). Other than paying for toner and paper, I haven’t had to put a penny into the thing. It doesn’t print in color and isn’t particularly quick, but it does still work.

Like many computer owners, in the late 1990s I bought a couple of different color ink jet/bubble jet printers. The best of the bunch was an HP Photo Printer, and man did that thing print nice pictures! Unfortunately I didn’t use it enough, the ink and the print head dried up, and I soon found it was cheaper to replace the printer than it was to replace the ink. Based on all the old ink jet printers I see at garage sales and thrift stores, I assume a lot of other people had similar experiences.

While computers are easy to upgrade, peripherals typically aren’t. There’s no simple way to turn a 4GB USB thumb drive into an 8GB thumb drive, so when given the choice I’ll buy the 8GB one every time. I learned that lesson back in 1996 when I bought a brand new Dodge Neon and saved a few hundred bucks by forgoing options like automatic windows and automatic door locks. I then spent the next four years driving that car and wishing I had automatic windows and automatic door locks.

Thus, the c410 HP Photosmart Premium Fax e-All-in-One Printer. Right out of the box it supports wireless printing. It even supports WPA/WPA2 encrypted connections, so I had no problem connecting the printer to my wireless network. (It also has a USB connection and an ethernet port, just in case.) The printer has USB, SD, and a couple of other slots on the front so you can insert a memory storage device, select the file you wish to print, and print it. I can’t imagine using this feature all that often, but I still think it’s neat. The “All-in-One” in the c410’s name refers to the unit’s flatbed scanner, copier, and fax capabilities. Having a copier around the house, even an ink jet one, seems like it might be handy. The scanner comes with a 50-sheet attachment and I’m looking forward to scanning in some magazines with it and see how it works. I honestly cannot remember the last time I sent or received a fax so that feature will likely never get used. Finally, the printer is compatible with HP’s ePrinterCenter, which means the printer has its own e-mail address, and will print anything e-mailed to it. (The software allows you to (a) configure the printer’s e-mail address and (b) restrict who can e-mail documents to it, so no funny business!)

The printer has a normal-sized (125 sheet) paper tray, and a smaller one for printing photos. I tried printing out a photo and the result was something that resembled a photo, so consider that test passed. It’ll also print on envelopes and legal-sized paper. If any a printer deserved the title of “All-in-One”, it’s this one. In fact, I can’t come up with anything I’ve ever printed in my entire life that this thing won’t print. Wait, strike that — it won’t print Print Shop banners on tractor feed paper. Anything else though, and I’m good.

Inside the box, inside the Styrofoam, inside the protecting plastic held in place with blue tape, the printer came stored inside a thin, nylon bag with handles on it. Likewise, the printer’s power supply came in a cotton-canvas bag with a zipper on it. I do not understand what HP is implying here. Do people really tote 23-pound printers around in thin nylon bags? When not printing, do people remove their printer’s power supply and store them in protective carrying cases? The printer alone weighs 23 pounds. It’s not exactly the ideal solution for mobile warriors. I doubt it would fit in an overhead storage bin on an airplane. I am completely befuddled by the inclusion of these sacks.

One online complaint I read about the printer was that the colors in photos printed on photo paper on this printer aren’t as vivid as the colors in a real photograph. To test this, from my iPhone I e-mailed a picture to my printer and it printed it out. Read that sentence again. I was so impressed by this technology involved that made this happen that I forgot to compare the colors in the printed picture to the last photograph I had developed in a photo booth, which would have been years ago. On the day the picture was taken I was wearing a blue shirt, and I was wearing a blue shirt in the photo I printed out, so there’s my review on the printer’s color capabilities.

Another online complaint I read was that the printer came shipped with only a little bit of ink. I think all manufacturers of ink jet printers have been doing this for about a decade now, so I cannot fault this model or this manufacturer for doing it as well. All the other complaints I read online (“It didn’t work”, “I couldn’t get the wireless to work”, “I hate HP”, etc.) didn’t apply to me.

On several occasions recently, we’ve had to borrow other people’s printers to print things out in color. As the kids begin getting older and doing more reports for school, I’m sure this printer will accommodate our needs. Sometime over the weekend I’ll post an update in regards to the c410’s scanning capabilities.

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3 comments to Color Printing, Ahoy!

  • Zachary Hibbard (TheCheesyAssassin)

    I had(actually, we still have it) a commercial quality b/w laser printer with 2 types of scanners, 2 commercial size paper trays, compatible with several media types. I also literally got this right out of the trash when the owner(he owned a computer repair store, go figure) could not get the paper feed to work(it was set on tray 3, which it completely nonexistent) he even threw in 2 toner cartridges.

  • AArdvark

    Find out if the ink expires. My HP photosmart keeps telling me my ink is old and needs to be replaced. The indicator graph says more then half full, so you can bet that’s not gonna happen. I call it ink extortion, just because I don’t print much.
    Also, it has a problem pulling the paper off the stack. The rubber coated bar that contacts the paper just isn’t grabby enough. It works better in the summer than the winter because of the humidity but I usually have to give it two or three tries before it pulls in the paper. I call it bad design.

  • My experience has been all these inkjet printers suck ass, and I’ve switched back to Laser/Lasterjet printers, which work consistently and properly.