Verdict: A versatile all-in-one device with loads of features and exceptional print quality.
Dimensions (WxHxD): 452 x 199 x 473 mm;
Interface: USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth;
Print resolution: 9600×2400 dpi;
Scan resolution: 4800 dpi;
Copy resolution: 4800×1200 dpi;
Direct printing: Memory card, PictBridge and USB.
Contact: HP India
Multifunctional devices have progressed by leaps and bounds in the past few years, and today’s advanced models have support for wireless printing, and higher print speed and quality. The HP Photosmart Premium C309g is one such versatile all-in-one device that packs in a slew of features, and is completely driven by an intuitive touch screen interface.
The HP Photosmart Premium C309g is a high-end MFD that delivers superior photo printing. It has four individual color cartridges and an additional standard black cartridge with higher ink capacity. The device sports a boxy design with rounded corners for a touch of elegance. Its all black with a matte finish, except for the scanner lid, which is glossy. Its most striking feature is a 3.45-inch tilt LCD touch screen with a backlit control panel. The feed tray, with a capacity of 125 sheets, is located in the front, and theres an additional photo tray for 4×6-inch sheets as well.
The C309g supports photo printing directly from digital cameras, memory cards and USB drives. There are two card slots (SD/xD and Memory Stick Duo) and a USB port. The device connects to the PC via USB, but you can also print wirelessly via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. A very useful feature is its built-in duplexer, letting you save paper by printing on both sides without having to flip sheets manually.
This MFD has a touch screen, and its no gimmick. The Home screen has the basic functions (photo, copy and scan) and one-touch access to Snapfish. The Wi-Fi signal strength indicator is displayed at the top-right corner. Touch-sensitive buttons are present on the sides of the screen for page navigation and relevant buttons are backlit. To the left are buttons for the Home screen, Back and left scroll, while buttons for Help, right scroll and Cancel are located to the right.
Menus are well organized and every item has a big, clearly labeled icon. The Photo section lets you view and print photos from a memory card, USB drive, or Snapfish. Images are displayed as thumbnails and you can crop images, add frames, adjust brightness, and apply color effects, all from the device itself. You can also save data from external sources to Snapfish or to the PC that it is connected to.
This device also has an option to save images/documents to a memory card or USB drive. You can even export the result to the PC as a PDF file. The copy function is straightforward. Just select the number of copies and hit Color Copy or Black Copy; the device does the rest for you. It can also perform two-sided copies using the duplexer to copy both sides of a sheet.
The secondary screen of the UI has Quick Forms, Ink and Setup options. Here, you can check the ink levels, and configure Bluetooth, LAN and Wi-Fi settings. The Quick Forms let you print calendars, check lists, graph paper, music sheets, puzzles, and ruled notepad paper.
Our test PC comprised an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 CPU running on the Nvidia GeForce 7100 chipset with 2 GB RAM. It took 7 minutes 30 seconds to install the driver and applications and the total installation size was around 750 MB. The main component is HP Solution Center, which helps you scan documents, transfer images from external devices, and configure settings.
The printer driver has presets for various types of prints – general everyday printing, borderless photo prints, etc. You can also manually choose paper size, print quality, paper type, etc. The HP Scanning application presents a simple user interface for scanning documents and photos. The scanner has an optical resolution of 4800 dpi.
The C309g is a stellar performer in terms of speed and quality. It printed 17 pages of text in a minute in draft mode, and 10 pages per minute (ppm) in normal mode; very impressive for an inkjet printer. Even color combi documents with text and pictures printed at a good speed – 15 ppm in draft mode and 5 ppm in normal mode. Best mode yielded good results, but it took more than 30 seconds to print a single page. Borderless photo printing was a bit slow at 1 minute 20 seconds per print, but thats no longer than most inkjet printers would take. Scanning and copying speeds were very impressive. It took a mere 10 seconds to scan the entire scanner bed at any resolution. Copying a black text document took 17 seconds and a color combi document took a little less than half a minute.
This printer delivers excellent print quality, provided you use good quality paper. On regular paper, prints suffered from blotting due to capillary action. This was a bit less on bond paper. On alabaster paper, character formation was so crisp that we could read 2 point font with the naked eye.
We printed text and combi documents and photos in draft, normal and best modes. The quality of prints in draft mode was very good; crisp and not too light. The quality of photo prints took our breath away. We printed color and black and white photos on 240 gsm glossy photo paper, and reproduction of colors and details was near perfect. Wed give it 4.5 out of 5, because weve seen better. The quality of copying was excellent in normal mode too. So much so that theres no real need to use the best mode.
The four color cartridges use HP Vivera ink, which delivers vibrant and waterproof prints. Each color cartridge costs Rs 596 (MRP), which means a total of Rs 2,384 for four photo cartridges. The black cartridge costs Rs 650 and yields 250 pages. HP claims the color cartridges yield 300 standard pages (combi documents) and 100 4×6-inch photo prints. Thus, a color combi print would cost you Rs 8, while a 4×6-inch color photo print would cost Rs 23. Likewise, a black text print would cost Rs 2.60. So while printing text documents isnt very expensive, think twice before printing a color photo, unless you have pockets deep enough to buy photo cartridges. Making the trip to a nearby photo studio would turn out a lot cheaper and the photos will also be of a higher quality.
The HP Photosmart Premium C309g is an all-round MFD. It offers lavish features and its an ace performer. Aside from the absence of a CF card reader and its inability to print text documents from USB flash drives, theres nothing to complain about. Printing photos is expensive, but thats the case with all premium photo printers. This MFD will set you back Rs 13,350, and we feel that its features and performance completely justify the asking price. Strongly recommended!