The quality of photos isn't particularly appealing but the HP Photosmart C4480 multifunction works well as a cheap document printer and scanner.
Though strikingly similar in design to the Photosmart C4580, the HP Photosmart C4480 inkjet multifunction offers less features. There is a single USB 2.0 connection and a media card reader supporting MemoryStick, SD, xD and MMC cards.
Differentiating the HP Photosmart C4480 from bargain-bin inkjet multifunctions is a tiny 3.8cm colour LCD screen. The multifunction has quick access buttons for scanning, copying and printing. The LCD also displays photos from removable media, and transitions between images were surprisingly fast. Don't expect to edit images directly from the multifunction, but the LCD's inclusion means you won't have to print then scan index sheets to select photos.
Ink cartridge replacement is unnecessarily fiddly. Another design quirk is that the HP Photosmart C4480 inkjet multifunction's only input tray is situated underneath the output tray and only separated by thin plastic protrusions on either side, which rarely prevent input and output media from mixing.
The HP Photosmart C4480 prints fairly quickly given its price; it is capable of printing draft mono documents at up to 18.9 pages per minute. When printing at normal quality, the speed dropped to 6.1ppm. In our tests, colour documents printed slightly slower, at 14.1ppm in draft mode and 2.8ppm in normal; these speeds are still significantly faster than the business-oriented Officejet J4580. It takes taking 45 seconds to print a normal quality 4x6in photo, and 2min11secs to print an A4 photo.
If you aren't careful to have the output guide fully extended, the HP Photosmart C4480 is will simply spit pages out. Printing is also significantly louder than most other budget inkjet multifunctions.
Thankfully, the quality is good. While draft and normal quality text documents are overbold and fuzzy, text characters when printing in the best quality mode are crisp and very readable. The quality of colour documents is noteworthy, with text and colours combined well. Blues are slightly oversaturated, but otherwise the quality is commendable.
Photos are marred by noise and discolouration in gradients. The comparatively low print resolution means that A4 photos are the more likely to be affected than 4x6in photos, though we found similar issues in both tests. If quality isn't paramount, the HP Photosmart C4480 inkjet multifunction suffices. Otherwise we recommend a more expensive printer for printing photos.
Scans can be initiated directly from the HP Photosmart C4480 inkjet multifunction and are comparatively quick. However, the default scan options can't be configured and the results are underwhelming; scans frequently had noisy backgrounds and lacked detail.
The HP Photosmart C4480's price tag is certainly appealing, and the running cost even more so. As a cheap document printer and scanner the Photosmart C4480 serves well, though you may want to spend a little extra for better quality photos.