HP Photosmart Premium C310
The C310 is the least impressive printer in this group in terms of specification, but nevertheless it still produces good quality prints. Installation of the C310 is a simple process: power up the printer, open the printer case and a print head cradle appears out of the side wing. Then you simply remove the protective cover from the print head cradle and supplied ink cartridges.
The C310 has five inks - Photo Black, Magenta, Cyan, Yellow and plain old 'Black' for text printing. The supplied setup inks will prime the print heads and produce a limited amount of prints, but we'd recommended that you purchase a full set of inks at the time of purchasing the printer. The software installation took over 20 minutes on a fast computer, I can only deduce that the installation also looked to the HP site to ensure the latest drivers were installed, although there was no notification of what was happening. I let the printer do a recommended install.
|Clear instructions inside the C310's case explain exactly how to set the printer up.||The C310 uses five inks, but only four are used for photo printing - cyan, magenta, yellow and photo black.|
The HP C310 is visually the least appealing of the three test units, it may blend in perfectly in an office environment, but for home use it's perhaps too 'corporate' in its styling. The overall appearance is very boxy with minimal controls - just the power button and a touch-sensitive LCD screen. The impressive-looking 4.3" (10.9 cm) touch-panel LCD screen is used to navigate and set the printer's various functions as well as to preview photos. At the bottom left there is a memory card reader, but unfortunately for some reason best known to HP, it does not support CompactFlash card, only SD and Memory stick duo. The C310 also lacks any PictBridge port for directly linking a camera to printer.
Media is loaded via a two tray media cassette, the bottom section will hold up to 125 A4 sheets and the photo tray holds 20 sheets. The tray also doubles as the media catcher, there is a small arm that pulls out to stop media spilling out onto the floor.
For this review we used HP's Photo Paper Premium Plus. Our A4 (~letter-sized) borderless test print took 2 minutes 33 seconds to complete, a reasonable time but not particularly fast. The C310 print output is more saturated than the other two printers. Sophie has a nice skin color, but there is a strange dark outline on the side of her cheek - it would appear that the printer is applying a sharpening algorithm to the overall image. This is also evident on the color patches where a white halo now surrounds the solid colors. The RGB CMY BGW patches are over-saturated in color - particularly the blue which has taken on a slight magenta cast. The Cyan patch has turned into a light blue color, albeit a rather nice shade. The magenta and yellow patches are both too dark. On the plus side, color gradients are very smooth with no obvious stepping, and for a printer with so few inks this is excellent.
The B/W photograph and step wedge have a slight warm tone, magenta seems to be creeping in here. The blacks in the shadow area are totally blocked up, and all detail seems to have been lost. A poor performance compared to the other two printers in this review.
The cotton reels highlight the warm cast in the black reel as well as a magenta cast on the dark blue reel. Overall the colors are very flat and lack the roundness that is evident in the other two printers.
Reproduction of text is excellent, probably the best of the three printers in this review. The serifs in the characters have kept in all the detail and the definition in the letter “e” on the white on black text is near perfect.
The harbour scene lacks a dynamic quality, it is flat and lifeless, certainly not the best rendition in this review.