There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the HP Photosmart C6380 — it is the biggest, brightest and most feature-packed multifunction in the Photosmart range. Surprisingly, while the C6380 might be the pinnacle of home printing and scanning in some ways, when it comes to print quality it isn’t the best. Despite this shortcoming, a raft of features will be certain to entice.
The Photosmart C6380 adopts similar styling to the Photosmart C5380, with an attractive white and silver two-tone colour scheme. The control scheme is minimal, but there are plenty of quick access buttons for photo editing and print settings without making the printer overly complicated. The staple features of an HP home multifunction are all there: a five-way navigational pad, a colour LCD screen and a multi-card reader supporting MemoryStick, SD, xD, CompactFlash and a PictBridge USB port.
Unsurprisingly, connectivity is comprehensive. On top of the standard USB 2.0 port for local connection, the C6380 also supports Ethernet networking, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and optional Bluetooth connectivity for connection to mobile phones and notebooks.
Unlike the Photosmart C4580, the C6380’s integrated Wi-Fi features include the ability to join an established Wi-Fi network without first having to create an ad-hoc infrastructure and fiddle with the Web interface, speeding up set up and making it easier for the technically inept. The only thing it doesn’t have is direct CD/DVD printing — a useful feature on the Photosmart C5380 that is unfortunately lacking here.
The C6380’s print times are inconsistent, often taking three or four pages in a batch before the printer can get up to its full speed. Overall, though, print speeds are quite fast. Text documents print at an average of 21.4 pages per minute in draft quality with a first page out in 17.3sec. At normal quality, this slows significantly to 10.5ppm. Documents with colour graphical elements are slightly slow, at 19.4ppm for draft quality documents and 6.3ppm for normal documents. Standard 4x6in photos print in an average time of 27.9sec, and A4 photos take 1min 16sec.
The impressive quality of the Photosmart C5380 has carried over. Using the same dual-drop ink cartridges as its less expensive counterpart, the C6380 offers excellent quality text documents that surpass most, if not all, inkjet printers and multifunctions in the home market. Colour documents with graphics have highly accurate and vibrant colour that doesn’t interfere with superimposed text.
Photo print quality is the only cause for concern with the C6380. Although the unit offers the same vibrant and accurate colour as we found on the Photosmart C5380, the banding issue that was non-existent on the less expensive model unfortunately rears its head here. It is slight, but perfectionists will be displeased with the drop in quality despite the price hike. For most others, though, this problem is hardly noticeable and it doesn’t distract from a photo as a whole.
In using the same ink cartridges as the Photosmart C5380, the C6380 also yields an identical cost efficiency of 19.9c per page — it could be better but it remains reasonable.
Scanning quality isn’t quite up to scratch for pro photographers, but it will do the job for documents. Though it certainly picks up detail, the C6380 produces dull colours that make the resulting image under-saturated in comparison to the source image. There are scanning options aplenty, however, with the ability to scan to a computer, memory card or USB stick.