HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One C309g

The Photosmart Premium is a nifty little multifunction with the added novelty of a touchscreen. It does a great job of plain text, but it's a pity about its colour prints.


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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.


Thanks to a number of mobile devices that have introduced the wonders of touchscreens to a receptive audience (we're looking at you, Apple), it seems that the next device to receive the tactile interface is, curiously, a printer. HP's Photosmart Premium C309g uses a touchscreen to drive its every command when it is not tethered to a computer, and alongside Lexmark's recently released touchscreen professional printers, it sits at the precipice of a brave new world of printing technology.

Perhaps that's a little far-fetched. Still, it's a novelty that we're happy to run with — for now.

Design and features

Like a number of other printer manufacturers, HP has taken the "black is back" aesthetic to its latest range of Photosmart multifunction printers. This one (let's call it the C309g to be a bit more affectionate) is clad in matte black plastic around the sides, and glossy piano black at the top. The look and feel of the C309g is particularly appealing thanks to its streamlined and fuss-free exterior — and trust us, it's not that often that we fancy a printer.

At the front, things look fairly conventional for a multifunction until you realise that the 3.45-inch screen is in fact a touchscreen. There are no physical buttons, save a lonely power button next to the screen, and PictBridge connections at the front (Memory Stick/Memory Stick Duo/SD, xD, USB). There are two paper trays, the top for photo paper and smaller sheets, and the bottom tray for A4 paper and envelopes.

The touchscreen at the front of the C309g. (Credit: HP)

Inside sits a print head that takes five cartridges — cyan, magenta, yellow, photo black and plain black — plus a flatbed scanner that sits underneath the top flap. There's an automatic duplexer built in as well.

Equipped with Bluetooth and wireless connectivity the C309g can happily sit in one end of the house while your computer is at another. To complement the whole "eco" tag, a reusable accessories pouch is provided in the box, inside which you'll find the CD with the drivers and software, power brick and cable, USB cable and some sample photo paper to get you started.

Performance

As with most printer set-ups, installing software and drivers for the C309g will take a fair chunk out of your day. The C309g also takes an aeon to align and install cartridges when you first put them in the device. Make yourself a cup of tea or five while you're doing this.

Once everything has been installed, the HP Solution Centre is the central repository for printing needs on your computer, covering common options like scanning and printing photos. On the device itself, the touchscreen is the main way you interact with the printer. The resolution isn't as pleasing as the implementation on Lexmark's offering (the Pro805), but the HP's does offer the added bonus of having a touch border which has options illuminated around the edge of the screen (such as home, back and a help setting).

Via the touchscreen, the printer can connect to HP's online photo sharing and printing service, Snapfish. It's an interesting idea to be able to print photos that you may have uploaded while on the road and the process to connect and print from the service is painless and intuitive.

Plain text quality was excellent, with clear and crisp lettering from small font sizes through to large ones, serif and sans-serif fonts. The C309g took a little while to warm up, printing its first page within 27 seconds of being sent the document from Microsoft Word, but was incredibly fast with each successive page. On average, the C309g was capable of printing 10 pages per minute on standard quality.

The same quality that the C309g exhibited on text wasn't the case with photos, which was disappointing considering previous HP multifunction devices we have tested excelled at photo prints. Initial test prints on the included paper weren't great, with very large print droplets visible, weak colours and poor printing of blacks and darker tones. Then we shifted to larger A4-sized HP branded photo paper to see if it was just a once-off issue with the provided paper, but it wasn't. Colour accuracy, a strong point of previous printers like the Photosmart C309a Premium Fax, was fairly off, and they just looked dull compared to lab quality prints (and even prints from a recently tested single-function printer, the Epson Photo Stylus T50).

Despite the lacklustre print quality it only took 42 seconds for a colour 10x15cm print to emerge, which is quite quick for its class and pretty much exactly the same as the C309a's time.

Costs and consumables

As mentioned, the C309g uses five ink tanks that are available in standard and high yield capacities. The tricky part of working out a cost per page metric is that each cartridge has a different yield for different purposes. So a standard plain black cartridge will yield 250 pages, the photo black will yield 130 10x15cm prints, and the colour cartridges will yield 300 pages. The black cartridge in standard and high yield capacities retail for AU$19 and AU$54 respectively at the time of writing, so expect to pay 7.6 cents per page for standard.

Service and support

The C309g is Windows 7 ready, according to HP, with updated drivers available from the company's website. It comes with a standard one-year warranty. Additional documentation and troubleshooting/FAQs are available from the website.

Conclusion

Unless you're the type of person to use your multifunction printer as a stand-alone unit, without tethering it to a computer, you won't find much use for the touchscreen interface, even though it's intuitive and very well designed. However, if you want a printer to sit in a corner of the house with web access to print your photos (only via Snapfish) then the C309g will suit your needs very well.

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heh45
1
Rating
 

"used lots of ink printhead went out after very little use"

heh45 posted a review   
United States

The Good:scanner worked very good

The Bad:poor printer drinks ink, quit working bad printhead

this printer has always used ink like it was free. Now after a year or so
the printhead has died. I would not recommend this printer to anyone.
Printer never printed over 10 sheets per week.

redshoes
1
Rating
 

"WORST DECISION EVER"

redshoes posted a review   
New Zealand

The Good:nothing

The Bad:everythinh

I just brought this printer today, first of all it was the very last one (on clearance) so they had to sell me the display model, They took ink catridges from another printer and sent me on my way. I got home and started the setup, noticed i was missing the photo black ink catridge and it wouldnt let me continue setup without it. So i rang back the store and they said they didnt have any and I would have to wait,waiting was not an option so I called another store to see if they had any and they did. I took along the catridges with me and they looked up on computer of the one i needed. Both stores are under the same company so they could see that the store i purchased printer from actually had 9 catridges and they just werent prepared to give me one as they were 'low'. The lady gave them a talking too and I sure got the catridge I needed.

SECOND RANT...
I am now trying to do setup on the printer again, everytime it tries to do it's print thing. It wont feed through and print out where its supposed too. It just makes all this noise and feeds paper straight through the printer and spits it through the back. Then the error symbol pops up saying that there is no paper in the tray, when clearly there is!! I'm so frustrated and i've tried everything! I called HP call centre and the person was useless and I got no real help!!!! Since my printer was a display model, Im wondering If im missing an attachment at the back of the printer that is meant to feed the paper where its meant to go???

I'm writing this on the off chance that someone will come across this, that actually knows what to do? or has had the same issue and knows what Im supposed to do!

Grumble
1
Rating
 

"Would score it a zero, or even a negative, if that was possible ..."

Grumble posted a review   

The Good:Zilch, zippo, nothing, null, nada

The Bad:Lies about ink levels, is extremely thirsty, reinstalls itself every few days, often can't recognise a full page when scanning, tells me my cartridge is emply after printing 2 pages, power pakc blew up and no-one in HP Australia could/would help me get a new one, and on it goes

DON'T EVER BUY THIS PIECE OF CRAP! HP has lost me forever ...

 

HPHater posted a comment   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Hangs constantly

Have had other HP printers and was a fan, but this one never wants to print. I spend more time trying to make it work properly than what it is worth. Buy anything else, it can't be worse that this, a real POS.

 

ShopForStudents.com posted a comment   

Stop overpaying for your ink, I use the 564 also. We sell remanufactured ink that works beautifully in my printer and will in all of yours too. I have tested them myself and have reordered from the same source that we use to fulfill your orders and will donate 15% of every order to the school, sports team, student group, charity or non-profit of your choice. Save up to 75% on all ink and toners. Plus FREE Shipping and no tax outside Florida. Check us out! Great Fundraiser! www.ShopForStudents.com or email us at info@shopforstudents.com. Save money and help your community with www.ShopForStudents.com. Just click on ink and toner and find your ink, we have XL's that are a great deal. Then at checkout please tell us where the 15% should go. Take advantage of the free shipping, stock up now. Hope I helped everyone.

 

thomas posted a comment   

The Good:looks

The Bad:slow-as-heck print "cueing" which hangs computer, ink hog,

bought this printer for class last semester, and feel that the software is absolute garbage. None of my other printers (apple, epson, lexmark) "hang" my computer when I print, but the c309g does EVERY time!!!

This Print device "hangs" my computer while it "calculates the print job" and "sends it to the print queue"; Once I click "print", I am unable to load/close/do anything until the printer "queues" the print file. Printed a "1mb adobe acrobat file" which took about 15 minutes as the printer turned the "1mb file" into a "56mb print job"...queueing the whole 56mb (from a 1mb file?!?!)

Unable to scan in hi-res without booting computer and using control panel(why have an external touch screen interface if it is useless for adjusting internal preferences?)

Powered down multiple times in aggravation...feel like my computers been hijacked.

BEWARE OF HP PRODUCTS.

bosslady
5
Rating
 

bosslady posted a review   

The Good:print fine haven't done pics yet

The Bad:ink get gone too quick

Got printer in Nov.2010 print fine we do alot of printing haven't done pics yet scare won't have enough ink. Use ink like crazy. Sister has one she love hers wish I went a different way. Had Hp printer before love it everything but wireless so I replace with this. Good thing I got a warranty on it and I got it on sale not out of too much money. Might sale it and try another brand. Hp shame on you for this ink eating printer.

Wizard of Oz
4
Rating
 

Wizard of Oz posted a review   

The Good:When it works, the print quality is good.

The Bad:The most unreliable piece of junk I have ever seen.

Onwed C309g now for 6 months in multi-PC environment. Technically it still works, but it will go out from our home soon. Reasons for this is that I am fed up with reinstalling the software ('Device installation uncomplete', while it worked yesterday), scanning problems ('Update device menu'), lightshows(printer is blinking all lights and does not print, reboot needed). Whenever I start to print, I will first pray that this time it works, then I'll wait for the 'mechanics show', where the printer is doing some acrobatics with printheads, then get the print followed by the same acrobatics. It consumes more ink than you could understand from reviews. I recently bought a new PC and while the old one installed perfectly fine with Ethernet and XP, the same setup with new PC just failed, it could not install network features. So, I had to move things around to use USB instead. Other machines are connected with WiFi and varying results. Avoid HP printers, this comes from experience and I guess everyone can find similar reviews from the net.

NotoHP
1
Rating
 

NotoHP posted a review   

The Good:Looks Pretty

The Bad:Doesn't work at all.

Opps! my previous review didn't indicate the appropriate rating of 1. Sorry 1/2 is not available. The printer doesn't work at all brand new out of the box. HP wants to send a refurbished to replace the new unit, NO THANKS HP!

 

NotoHP posted a comment   

The Good:Looks Pretty

The Bad:Doesn't work at all...

Another HP piece of junk. Brand new out of the box hasn't printed 1 page or photo yet. It has a printer error code 0x61011bec that HP can't fix over the phone, they wanted to send me a refurbished unit in a week. I didn't buy a refurbished unit! Taking it back for a refund, I new better. My 2 year old HP laptop motherboard burnt, $450 to repair, so it works great to keep my pickup truck from rolling out the driveway while placed in front of the tire. My other HP all in one broke 1 mo. after it's warranty ended. I just new better, my bad!


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User Reviews / Comments  HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One C309g

  • heh45

    heh45

    Rating1

    "this printer has always used ink like it was free. Now after a year or so
    the printhead has died. I would not recommend this printer to anyone.
    Printer never printed over 10 sheets pe..."

  • redshoes

    redshoes

    Rating1

    "I just brought this printer today, first of all it was the very last one (on clearance) so they had to sell me the display model, They took ink catridges from another printer and sent me on my way...."

  • Grumble

    Grumble

    Rating1

    "DON'T EVER BUY THIS PIECE OF CRAP! HP has lost me forever ..."

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