HP has been a competitive player in the MFP (Multi Function Printer) market for a very long time. As home users demand more features out of their printers, manufacturers have to implement features and improve performance for photo printing and more. HP’s Photosmart series of MFPs are designed specifically for home and SoHo users. The model we’re looking at today is the Photosmart C310a, which boasts of Wi-Fi capabilities and more.

Design and Build Quality
Although the Photosmart C310a is a bit of a household all-in-one printer, its looks are attractive. Like most MFP designs, there’s a lid that opens the scanning screen. Users can adjust settings and also use preloaded apps using the touchpad. Below the touchpad are two paper trays, one for the standard A4 size sheets and the other for 4×6-inch glossy paper for photo printing.

sturdy and attractive

Sturdy and attractive

The C310a has a glossy finish at the top – it gives the printer a classy look but it also attracts smudges. At the same time, it’s simpler to clean when dust does settle on it. The rest of the body is built with a matte finish. The build quality of the trays is sturdier than the Canon Pixma 6170. A SD/MMC port is housed at the lower left of the printer. There is no Sony MemoryStick, XD or USB support on the printer. The Pixma 6170 in comparison had all of these memory card reader features. Also there’s an Ethernet jack meant to connect the MFP to the internet

The C310a can print, scan and copy, as well. There is no fax feature though. HP has included apps like Snapfish, Crayola, tabbloid, DreamWorks and Web Sudoku. Not all of the apps work here in India. Snapfish lets you share and personalize photos over the internet; tabbloid lets you print blogs from different RSS feeds.

Very minimal memory slots

Very minimal memory slots

The interface is a lot more intuitive and a lot easier to use than HP’s OfficeJet 7500a’s interface. Quite often, there are times when an option is clicked, but it responds a little late, but on a whole the interface is quite smooth. The C310a can take print commands over the network using Ethernet and it also has Wi-Fi printing capabilities.

The C310a has good performance. Single printouts where warm-up is required take approximately 6 seconds longer than printouts where the printer is already warmed up. The print speeds are a little quicker than the OfficeJet 7500 we just reviewed. There’s a very tiny difference in quality between the normal print quality modes and the draft modes, which is supposed to save more ink. Text doesn’t look a lot lighter in the draft modes though, although the speed of the prints is 3 seconds quicker. Text in the normal mode is sharp and there’s very minimal blotting of ink visible under a magnifying glass.

Ports behind only include Ethernet, no USB 2.0 support

Ports behind only include Ethernet, no USB 2.0 support

While looking at the coloured printouts for which we used a high-quality PDF file, we noticed similar issues that we noticed with the OfficeJet 7500. While the saturation levels are lower while printing with the draft mode, the long vertical bands of lighter and darker shades are visible even on this MFP. In the case of the Photosmart C310a, there are fine black lines visible in some of the lighter colours. Colour saturation is higher on the C310a and is most obvious in the reds. In terms of details, they are similar to the 7500a.

The photo print quality is probably the strongest feature of the Photosmart C310a. We tried printing a photo on 4×6 sheets of paper. The colour is slightly oversaturated when it comes to reds and yellow, but otherwise, the C310a is very good. The details are present but we noticed fine grain across the print. This is only visible if you look at the print under a magnifying glass. To the naked eye, it’s almost as good as a traditionally developed and printed photograph. Scanned images show a little less detail than the OfficeJet 7500a. The scanner took 28 seconds to complete an A4 scan.

Good performance but a little expensive as well

Good performance but a little expensive, as well

The HP Photosmart C310a is a pretty impressive photo printer but we wish, it would support more memory card formats. For example, printing from a portable USB hard drive or flash drive could have been really convenient for the user. If your camera uses a SD card, then you won’t really have too many complaints about this printer. At Rs. 14,999 it’s not the cheapest printer. For example, Canon sells the Pixma MG5270 for Rs. 5,000 cheaper and has most of these features. If you’re looking for a photo printer that throws out quality prints, then you won’t go wrong with the C310a.

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