At first glance the HP Photosmart C4180 is very compact for an MFD, but once you make allowances for the hefty power brick and the paper tray that extends a fair way out of the front, it's actually not that small, although it will fit neatly on a shelf.

The paper feeds in at the front and then back out again, but there's no output tray so the printed output is dumped on the top of the stack of paper. This is an odd oversight as HP has taken care to include an advanced feature in the drivers that allows you to print jobs 'from last to first', so that the output ends up in the tray stacked in the correct order. On the subject of the drivers, every time you hit the print button you can expect a pop-up that reports ink levels without giving you any idea about print progress.

Installing the HP Photosmart Premier and IRIS OCR software is quick and simple and includes the option to check for online updates. However, we found the HP photo printing utility was too clever for its own good and made the job overly complicated compared to the Canon and Epson software.

In terms of image quality, 6x4-inch photo printing is a pain as the paper has to be inserted a long way into the printer and the output was streaky compared to the A4 photos we printed off.

Generally, we've found HPs print superb text and photos, but the C4180 output was quite dark and, even using the optional photo cartridge, we found that yellow appeared quite orange, while text output wasn't as sharp and clear as we would expect. If your needs are quite restricted, you won't mind the quality of the C4180. However, if you've high-quality expectations, we'd suggest looking elsewere. What Laptop Staff