If you're looking for a multifunction printer that's loaded with features but still does a good job printing text and graphics-filled documents, HP's Photosmart C7280 is worth a look. This multifunction device includes print, scan, copy, and fax capabilities, with just about every connectivity option you could want.

The basics|

The C7280 is a six-colour (in six separate ink tanks) inkjet printer with a 100-sheet, letter-size primary paper tray and a secondary tray that holds up to 20 sheets of 4x6in or 5x7in photo paper (4x6in is the traditional 'photo size' you used to get from Boots).

The HP Photosmart C7280 also has slots for all standard memory cards, a PictBrige USB port for connecting a camera or flash storage device directly to the printer, and a built-in duplexing unit for two-sided printing.

But it's the networking capabilities that distinguish the HP Photosmart C7280 from other multifunction printers in its class: it comes with three ways for you to connect it to your PC or to a network.

You can use the USB 2.0 port for direct connections to your PC, or you can hook it up to either a wired ethernet network or a wireless 802.11g network, depending upon your office setup. And, if that's not enough, you can print using Bluetooth if you add the optional HP bt500 Bluetooth adaptor (available online for around £25 inc VAT).

Setting up the HP Photosmart C7280 is a breeze: step-by-step help on the unit's 2.4in LCD is supplemented with the well-written manual and quick-setup sheet.

There's also plenty of onscreen help for connecting the HP Photosmart C7280 to a standard or DSL phone line to use the fax capabilities, and the CD that comes with the printer installs the print and fax driver and all the appropriate scanning software.

Scanning smart

The HP Photosmart C7280 replaces the HP Photosmart C7180 at the high end of HP's all-in-one inkjet line.

The C7280 drops the HP Photosmart C7180's film-scanning capabilities for an automatic document feeder for the scanner and copier, which is a much smarter choice overall. Scanning 35mm film sounds good in theory, but it's rarely possible to get usable scans from an inexpensive flatbed scanner.

The ability to copy multiple sheets from a document is much more useful, and HP does an excellent job of integrating the feeder into the scanning software. Whether you're scanning 20 pages to your PC or making direct copies, the feeder will prove to be very handy.

HP's Scan Pro scanning software is quite basic, but includes such features as built-in optical character recognition (OCR) support and dust-removal and colour-correction tools for scanning photographs. You can scan files as TIFFs, JPEGs, and PDFs, and the Scan menu offers a variety of options, such as emailing scans.

Scanning documents was quite easy and produced good results overall. We had a few issues when scanning photos, however. Our first attempts produced lacklustre images with middling colour fidelity, and we had to tweak the driver settings to get better photo scans. In the end, though, the HP Photosmart C7280 is more about giving you some photo-scanning capabilities than being the best at it.

As a standalone copier, the HP Photosmart C7280 is a joy to use. You can make up to 99 copies of a document, and can scan them directly to a connected memory card or flash drive; if your PC is in another part of the building, you can also scan images directly to it over your network, which is a nice touch.

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