HP Photosmart C6380

An excellent all-in-one printer for the home and small office, the C6380 pairs great photo printouts with an easy to use interface.

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Though the design of an all-in-one is unlikely to stir any sort of emotional response within us, the C6380 is nevertheless a very attractive unit, bedecked in a crisp white finish with silver accoutrements. Paper consumables are all accessed from two trays at the front, with A4 paper sitting on the lowest shelf, and smaller photo papers loaded from the higher shelf, within a plastic container that is drawn into the unit during the printing process.

At a moderate 7.45kg, the C6380 is relatively lightweight, though the materials do not feel cheap. Sporting a 2.4-inch tilting screen at the top left and a flat bed scanner across the top of the unit, both feel sturdy rather than flimsy.

As an all-in-one, the C6380 has print, scan and copy functionalities (but no fax). Extra connectivity is provided through wireless (802.11b/g), Ethernet, and an optional Bluetooth adapter (not provided).

One of the big drawcards of the C6380 is its ability to print borderless photos up to A4 size. It has five separate coloured ink tanks, which are all independently replaceable, using HP's own Vivera ink.

At the front of the unit are the standard PictBridge connectors for all common memory card formats, and a USB port. We were disappointed not to see a document feeder provided with the C6380, though considering this is not generally a unit designed primarily for office usage, this is only a minor downside.

The C6380 can be used as a standalone unit or attached to a computer. Firstly, we printed some 4x6-inch (10x15 cm) prints from a standard SD card. Pleasingly, the time from pressing start to the final result emerging from the printer took roughly 31 seconds, though this time does depend on the size and the amount of detail and colour in the shot. We found that, depending on the photo, print time ranged anywhere between 31 seconds and 50 seconds per printout of this size, from a 14.7-megapixel source image.

Overall, the quality of the final print was particularly impressive. Deep blacks were characteristic throughout all the photos, skin tones were very accurate, and there was no bleeding of colour or jagged edges whatsoever. For an A4 photo page, the C6380 spat out a borderless colour print in 1 min 35 seconds.

After the standalone test, we proceeded to install the software on a computer. The process was painless, though it did take a good 10 minutes to fully install everything. Fortunately there was an excellent graphical instruction booklet provided in the box to take us through the process step-by-step. The included software does a good job of making the most common tasks (scanning, printing photos) as easy as possible, including a graphical display of ink levels without having to go into the printer settings.

During the printing process, we were very pleased with the almost whisper-quiet operation of the unit. Our hopes were dashed, though, when our ears were met with the clunking noises and loud operation after the printout had finished. The sounds did dissipate with continued use though, and we assume they were to do with aligning the cartridges and cleaning the print heads. Still, the noise was quite disconcerting.

Printing a single page of plain black and white text took 9 seconds, from sending the job to the printer to the final page being dropped on the document tray. The resulting text was highly readable, and even fonts in size 6 were easy to see. Surprisingly, larger fonts were not as crisp as their smaller counterparts, though this was only noticeable on close examination. A typical OCR scan took 16.5 seconds and the resulting document was very accurate and managed to determine most, if not all of our text correctly. Scanning a photo was similarly successful, but the finished image did have a small amount of graininess in high contrast areas. Colour prints on plain A4 paper were slightly disappointing, mostly because they didn't live up to the vibrant colours we saw when printing on photo paper. There were also some issues with the paper curling as the ink was drying.

Considering there are five separate cartridges that need to be replaced, the cost of consumables for the C6380 may present a problem for any sort of intensive workload. At the time of writing, cartridges for the printer were available at an average of AU$16 per unit online, though this still does work out to be around AU$80 to replace the whole set in one go.

The C6380 is an incredibly versatile and capable all-in-one, ideal for the home or small office situation that doesn't need faxing capabilities, or an automatic document feeder. Though there are a few problems (mostly to do with the noise of the unit during startup and post-printing) we can still recommend the C6380 as a versatile printer to cope with most photo, document and scanning needs.

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A MESS posted a comment   

After only two years of using this product. It is coming up with a print fail error. I spent over $100.00 in replacing all the ink cartridges as the printer instructed. Turned the printer on and off as instructed but to no avail.


Henry posted a comment   

Forget about all the bloody jargon -whoever previewed should be shot - full of jingoistic jargon - all I want is that the product "does what it says on the tin". Not interested in - noise of the machine - wireless connectivity- it's a bloody scanner/ printer and when I bought it, I was assured it was the "best" in it's range for printing/ scanning pics. As a former staff press photographer, now made redundant after 30 years, and now freelance - I really wanted a good printer to print my images - fairly cheaply from home that had quality and consistancy. Image quality is good but at what a price !!! I have already spent a fortune on cartridges - 10 A4 images at even 350 dpi and it erupts to tell me my ink needs replacing - wish I never bought it - way cheaper to go to my local camera shop and get my images printed there. Get real HP - cut down the bloody jargon and give us a printer that I can stand by without having to pay an absolute fortune in inks to achieve and print my enlarged images. What are you really doing to facilitate working photographers, who have lost their staff jobs thoughout the world because of your new technology, and now when we revert to you - you skin us alive with your costs of inks? Throwing this printer out the door - worst investment, economically I ever made. Great printer, good quality, but at what a price !!! It's Ok for family 6x4's but woeful in terms of ink costs for any sort of quality reproduction on a large scale - a total rip off and oh so expensive. Better to outsource my prints- and much cheaper !!! Enough said - and hope all the ordinary users are not taken in by all the jargon in this preview - Enough said - HP - get your act together and start looking after working photographers and not just the family user who is delighted with their small 6x4 print. Really angry about this investment as I go freelance - so sorry - to the customer - don't believe the jargon - costs an absolute fortune in inks - Enough said !!!


kylie posted a review   

The Good:Good quality prints. Good support

The Bad:wireless bad, uses too much ink, print head error, annoying software

I was NEVER able to connect thihs wirelessly to my desktop pc even after HP took control of my computer and tried it themselves. EATS through ink. Photo software difficult to use - really hard to import photos in so they could be printed. Scanner doesn't pick up pale highlights of my pencil drawings. Now after 18 months the print head is stuffed and needs replacing NEVER again.


kitch11 posted a comment   

The Good:It's been great, the few times it has worked

The Bad:Wireless functionality the worst

Do not buy this printer. I have owned it for just over a year. I've contacted HP approaching 10 times for the same wireless printing and scanning issues. Every time it seems to be fixed, once the printer is turned off and back on, everything stops working. After this experience, I won't be purchasing any more products from HP.


Brushy posted a review   

The Good:When it works its wonderfull

The Bad:Ink System failure Oxc19x0023

The printhead is a huge problem, I have spent hours trying to get the damn thing working, keeps on coming up with Ink System failure Oxc19x0023. HP replaced my first unit after 4 months of use and now the replacement is doing the same thing, just tried replacing all the cartriges but am $110 more out of pocket, can someone suggest a good printer, wireless, as i am over HP , I have used HP since they 1st came onto the market but never again.


BoDaddy posted a reply   

I have the the same exact problem!!! It took me 1 hour to order a new print head from customer service and I hope it will arrive and work.
Not HP again!!!


Tater posted a comment   

The Good:Everything, Print Quality ETC

The Bad:Ink Prices, Noise

My unit hooks up to wireless at parents home 225 ft away. Prints well, Photos are great. Ink cost seem high to me, but i get a fair number of pages with xl cart. Trying Refilled Carts. now for 45 a complete xl set including Reg Blk.
Over all i like this unit. Havent had the problems im seeing reported here.


cbrhpuser posted a review   

The Good:Generally works well, no problems with wireless conection

The Bad:Ink hungry, print-head problems, clunky software

Other than using a surprising amount of ink and my wife needing to frequently re-install software to get a wireless connection, no complaints up until a couple of months ago. I started getting a print system error (0xc19a0037). Checked (HP!) cartridges, cleaned head as instructed and it worked for a little while. I've just called HP service and they're sending a replacement (luckily still under warranty - just) surprised how easy it was to convince them to send me a new print head (HP have a guilt complex?). After a web search, seems this is a common problem, so I guess next time I'll be buying a replacement print-head myself (or maybe a new, non-HP, printer). Was told it costs about $33.


Richard posted a review   

The Good:Easy to connect wirelessly

The Bad:Eats ink, needs frequent cleaning

After 20 years of buying HP this has stopped my habit. It uses ink about 10 times faster than claimed and now refuses to print unless I clean the printer head every 4 or 5 pages.


jela posted a review   

The Good:looks good


My printer worked fine when I just got it but it ran out of ink after just no more than 50 pages and the ink is way to expensive when you have to buy it at LEAST once a month. It's pathetic, I just bought new ink and now it isn't even printing, when I go to print something it prints just a blank page OVER AND OVER again. NOT HAPPYYYY

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User Reviews / Comments  HP Photosmart C6380

  • A MESS

    A MESS

    "After only two years of using this product. It is coming up with a print fail error. I spent over $100.00 in replacing all the ink cartridges as the printer instructed. Turned the printer on and o..."

  • Henry


    "Forget about all the bloody jargon -whoever previewed should be shot - full of jingoistic jargon - all I want is that the product "does what it says on the tin". Not interested in - noise of the ..."

  • kylie



    "I was NEVER able to connect thihs wirelessly to my desktop pc even after HP took control of my computer and tried it themselves. EATS through ink. Photo software difficult to use - real..."

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