Multifunctional devices have progressed by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Today, they offer a lot more apart from standard features such as printing, scanning, copying, direct printing and so on. More 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 under the hood, and it’s completely driven by an intuitive touch screen interface. In fact, the only button on the printer is the power button.

As the name suggests, the HP Photosmart Premium C309g is a high-end MFD that promises to deliver superior photo printing quality. For that purpose, it has four individual color cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) and an additional standard black cartridge with higher ink capacity for printing documents other than photos. These cartridges are simple ink tanks and they fit onto a removable print head.

The device sports a boxy design with rounded corners for a touch of elegance. It’s all black with a matte finish, except for the scanner lid, which is glossy and has a wavy geometric pattern that augments the aesthetics. Its most striking feature is a 3.45-inch tilt LCD touch screen with a backlit control panel, which HP calls TouchSmart. The feed tray, with a capacity of 125 sheets, is located in the front, and there’s an additional photo tray for 4×6-inch sheets above the main tray. The output tray is the lid of the feed tray, which has a retractable plastic strip to hold printouts in place.

The Photosmart Premium C309g supports printing photos directly from digital cameras, memory cards and USB flash drives. There are two card slots (SD/xD and Memory Stick Duo) and a USB port to the left of the feed tray. The device connects to the PC via USB, but you can also print wirelessly via Wi-fi and Bluetooth. A very useful feature here, and one that very few printers offer, is a built-in duplexer. So you can save paper by printing on both sides of the sheet without having to flip sheets and re-inserting them manually. The printer handles two-sided printing automatically.

User interface
All the multifunctional devices we’ve tested so far have had buttons. So this is a first for us. This MFD has a touch screen, and it’s not a gimmick; it means serious business. 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 only the 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.

The menus are very well organized and every item has a big, clearly labeled icon. The Photo section has options to view and print photos from a memory card, USB drive or Snapfish. The images are displayed as thumbnails on the screen (six at a time) and you can choose what you would like to print and the number of copies. On selecting an image, you can crop it, add frames, adjust the brightness and apply color effects (black and white, sepia and antique) to it. Note that these functions are accessible directly from the printer without the need for a PC. You can also save data from external sources (memory card and USB drive) to Snapfish or to the PC that the printer is connected to.

Most MFDs scan the target image/document and send the result to the PC, but this device also has an option to save the result to a memory card or USB flash drive. You can even export the result to a PDF file on the PC. The copy function is very straightforward, requiring you to simply specify the number of copies (1 to 99) and hit the Color Copy or Black Copy option on the touch screen. The device does the rest for you. You can also specify the print quality, paper size and paper type. The most interesting feature here is the two-sided copy option, which utilizes the duplexer to copy both sides of a sheet. The secondary screen of the user interface has Quick Forms, Ink and Setup options. Here, you can check the ink level of each cartridge, configure Bluetooth, LAN and Wi-fi settings, clean the print head, and align the printer.

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