Hewlett Packard PSC 2175  Thermal Inkjet Multifunction Printer

Hewlett Packard PSC 2175 Thermal Inkjet Multifunction Printer

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HP PSC 2175 is filling in HP's product gaps for multifunction dominance

Jul 10, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Paper Handling:

Pros:Fair price, good print quality, above average scanner, direct prints from memory cards

Cons:high ink consumption and costs, paper handling, speed issues.

The Bottom Line: If you accept the limitations of 8.5x11 originals, the 2175 is a good value overall that should leave most people satisfied!


It's time to buy my cousin a birthday gift... hmmm... he like taking photos and he likes his laptop. Hmmm... he's been looking for a printer to go with that new laptop of his. Hey, I know, let me look at some All-in-One printers!

The budget I set was under $200 for a quality multifunction machine that could produce above average text prints and above average photos. Speed was not an issue. I was quite happy with the 2210 that I owned and the 6110 that my parent's had so with the experience I've had with Hewlett-Packard's products in my lifetime, I decided to see if any new products or price cuts had occurred since I last shopped for a multifunction device. Lo and behold the 2175 model was recently released and carried by local Staples!

Price?

It retails at $199 in Staples. I paid $159 after a Staples Business Rewards coupon of $40 off $200 with free shipping. I also had a 2% rebate through ebates.com and another 2% from my AmEx Business Card. Please read my epinions article The Art of Buying... Getting your money's worth! for tips on saving additional money via internet shopping for electronics.

The Short Take

Overall, the PSC 2175 is a reliable machine that is an above average printer although it doesn't excel in graphics and photos like say the S900 and S950 printers from Canon (almost dedicated photo inkjet printers). Regardless, only the most picky of people would harshly criticize the 2175 photo output on High and Professional Quality Photo papers. Text printing is above average just like many of HP's inkjet models. It is a quality scanner although I'm not particular fond of the Director software used to access the scanner features. I felt that many adjustments had to be made after the scan.

Although there are many good points to the 2175, there are several limitations as well. You cannot scan or copy originals greater than 8.5x11 in size. Also, when scanning or copying, the 2175 (and most of the PSC models) will miss about a 1/4 inch border of the page around the whole page! The PSC 2175 consumes ink at a high clip... so you should be aware of this particular expense. By the way, I haven't found any third party ink cartridges as of yet for this particular printer engine.

Pros:

1) MRSP of $199
2) Flatbed scanner capable of 1200x2400 dpi scans at 48-bit color
3) Fairly small size for a multifunction device
4) 1200x1200 dpi printing (1200x4800 dpi max on photo paper)
5) Direct printing from flash memory
6) Accepts Compact Flash Type I and II, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/MultiMedia Card memory card through slots on front lower right corner of machine.
7) Uses the standard no. 56, 57, and 58 ink cartridges from HP.
8) USB only connection.
9) Direct copier functions with features such as enlarge/shrink functions

Cons:

1) Ink expenses very high
2) Poor multi-page scanning capabilities
3) Selection of images through a proof sheet for printing on 2175 wastes alot of precious ink
4) Tendency to pick up multiple sheets of photo paper when printing. Poor handling of thick paper types.
5) No cheap third-party alternative to HP inks.
6) Originals for scans and copies are limited to 8.5 x 11
7) Odd problem of missing scanning/copying 1/4 inch border around the edge of page.
8) You need to buy the USB cable!

How big is the PSC 2175? The specs.

The PSC is 17.8 x 14.1 x 10.7 in weighing about 18 lbs... why does that sound familiar... because it is the same size as the 2210 model! The 2175 shares the same body and color scheme but loses a few buttons on the control panel. As the 2210, it only accepts a USB connection... a USB 1.1 connection to boot. The PSC has a flatbed scanner with the controls to the right of the scanner plate... again, there is a loss of a couple of buttons like the Fax button from the 2210. The cover to the scanner plate can be removed to copy large books and the such.

Copying

The Copier functions are above average although the color reproduction tends to go more towards a red-yellow hue. You are limited to a letter sized original no matter what you do. There are three print settings which change the print quality which modify the print speed for the copies. The three modes are Draft, Normal, and Best... does that sound familiar? Best gives you the best quality but the slowest print speed while draft gives you lightning fast copies with noticably poorer print quality. There are also options to lighten, darken, text enhance, and color enhance as well as special copy functions like copying a photo, fit a copy to the page (auto enlarge/reduce), multiple copies to a page, and make a poster. So basically, you have most of the basic and several advanced features found in a regular analog and digital dedicated copy machines.

As with most inkjet based copiers, if you need to make many copies especially if you stick to B&W copies, you are better off getting a dedicated copier machine which will be much cheaper in the long run! The enlarge/reduce function set between 75 to 200% yielded good results but anything less than 75% were fuzzy (especially if the original text/graphic/photos were small to begin with). If you compare the reduce mode of the 2175 versus and analog copier like the Canon 750 model, you will notice a much higher quality in the copies from the analog copier. A digital copy machine showed an even more startling difference over the 2175. This and the high ink consumption in Normal and Best modes were the only major weaknesses of the PSC 2175 as a copier.

Scanner

Overall, a decent scanner. Quite capable of scanning photos with good accuracy and color reproduction. However, I personally don't like the Director software that HP uses to control their PSC models. It seemed to be more of a hinderance and a help when accessing the scanner functions. If you can bypass the Director software, do so. Try to have your graphics program access the scanner directly if possible. Remember, only letter sized originals for scanning and the maximum optical resolution is 1200x2400 dpi at 48-bit color. Overall, it is an average to above average scanner for everyday use.

Photo Card Access and Printing

It's nice to have all those slots for the various flash card memory formats (it doesn't accept the new XD-picture cards or the Memory Stick Pro). The 2175 is a decent photo printer especially if you swap out the black cartridge for the tri-color photo cartridge! However, getting to the particular photo you want can be a real pain as well as a huge waste of ink. The 2175 uses the same methods of accessing the flash cards as the 2210. If you know the number of the photo (i.e. you know that you wanted to print the fourth, ninth, and fifteenth photos on your memory card out of the seventy pictures on it), you could tell the 2175 to prints those photos only. Otherwise, if you need to search by seeing the picture, you are going to be printing a proof sheet. The proof sheet prints 20 thumbnail sized photos with the photo option below them. With a black pen you fill in the dots of the photos you want, their size, and what other additional options are listed. You then rescan the proof sheet and the 2175 will spit out the photos you indicated. At least the method is simple although it kills precious amounts of ink!

The PSC 2175 can read only one flash card at a time and it allows you to save the photos to your PC (if you connected your PC through the USB port) or to print the photos as I listed above. As I said, knowing the file name of the photo you want to print will save you quite a bit of ink. If you have to refer to the proof sheet first. You better keep some spare ink around. Admittedly, the proof sheet is a nice and convenient system... but it wastes the equivalent of 1 to 2 pages of ink that you can use to print your photos. Transferring photos from the 2175 to your computer is a slow process. I would recommend getting a dedicated card reader instead for transferring photos from your flash cards to your computer.

Like the 2210, you CANNOT make any adjustments (sharpening of the photo, color adjustments) to the photos prior to printing. That need to be done on the computer first.

Print quality? Overall, the quality of the photos are quite good although being able to adjust finer features of the photos directly on the PSC 2175 prior to printing would be desired.

Printer for your computer

As a straight printer, the PSC 2175 is on par with the DeskJet 5550 and the other PSC 2xxx lineup. There is a little fuzziness on text printing in normal and fast/draft modes but best/presentation mode looks quite good overall and is more than acceptable for presentations. The 2175 seems to favor a brighter color scheme in prints... with hues showing a little more yellow tinge and at times a slight red tinge. As a printer is quite speedy with about 5-6 ppm in black printing and 3 ppm in color in normal mode. I know that HP claims a speed of up to 18PPM in black and 13 in color. That only applies in draft mode! Normal mode is your more realistic print choice for reports and letters.

Draft mode is more for your personal scrap work. There are four modes to the printer side... best, normal, everyday, and draft. Best is the highest quality but lowest speed while draft is the fastest printing with lowest quality. The text quality in everyday mode still a bit of fuzziness that annoys me... so I don't like using it even though it is a bit faster than normal mode. However, everyday mode is better than the draft mode with a little slowdown.

Note printing photos is a slow process... since this will be set to best/presentation mode for printing! An 8.5x11 bordered print (effectively 8x10 photo) will take 4-5 minutes to print! Print quality will be very good and only the most discriminating will complain about the slight yellow hue to the flesh tones. Blues may be a little brighter than some desire as well. Note that if you switch the No. 56 black cartridge to the No. 58 tri-color photo cartridge, the yellow hue is lessened and the blues are more saturated (and to me more pleasing!). Printing photo on draft or everyday mode is not a good idea! It will print much quicker but the quality leaves alot to be desired. At worse, leave the printer on normal mode when you print photos. If you plan on keeping the photos and showing them to friends, presentation mode is the only way to go!

Overall, in normal and best modes, text print quality was good. Slight fuzziness in everyday and draft modes but acceptable. Graphics were clean although there was banding apparent in draft and sometimes on everyday print modes. I talked about photo quality already.

Ink Consumption

Note that the 2175 accepts two ink cartridges. One cartridge slot uses the No. 57 tri-color ink cartridge and the other slot uses the No. 56 black or the No. 58 tri-color photo cartridge.

Overall, the 2175 is as ink hungry as the 2210 especially if you print many photos and use the proof sheet system to do it. The PSC 2175 netted me about 75-80 pages of 2 5x7 prints per page before one color on any of the cartridges ran out (using a six ink color system). If I used proof sheets, this number decreases significantly. Although HP gives rather lofty numbers for the number of prints you can obtain from the cartridges, you rarely if ever get close to them. I would say 300 pages of black text (1 1/2 spacing) from the top to the bottom of the page is the average for the No. 56 cartridge.

If you're planning to look for third party ink cartridges, you're in for a shock. There isn't any. The best I could find was remanufactured cartridges (a company would refill a used cartridge) and these are still pricy. Some ink stores sold packages where you send your empty ink cartridge to a refill company that at best would helf the price from buying a brand new cartridge. I would also be careful of remanufactured cartridges since HP's inkjet printers use cartridges that combine the ink cartridge and the printhead. If you buy HP's branded cartridges, you are always using a brand new printhead which ensures that you get high quality prints. HP does not make those printhead for extended printing use. A remanufactured cartridge doesn't give you an idea of how many times the cartridge has been refilled so you take a chance with print quality. However, there are reputable third party ink companies that maintain a standard for what would be acceptable to use in a remanufactured cartridge. Personally, I have never refilled a cartridge more than three times.

The best way to buy HP branded ink cartridges would be to buy in blister packs of two or three at a time. If you purchase online, use the methods I describe in my epinions article The Art of Buying... Getting your money's worth! to find coupons and utilize ebates to lower the cost of your ink cartridges!

Paper Feeding

Like the 2210, the 2175 had a few problems with thicker and heavy paper types, especially some photo papers. The printer had a tendency to pick up an extra sheet of photo/thick/heavy paper while printing... especially when I placed it on top of plain copy paper. It seemed that the problem was less evident on HP's own paper but it still occurred. It's annoying and also wasteful of expensive photo paper and heavier stock paper so please be wary of this problem.

Parting Thoughts?

The PSC 2175 is an overall decent all-in-one machine that doesn't excel in any one area and retains all of the weaknesses of its predecessors and adds a couple of its own. For light to moderate copier use, the machine is fine. It makes a good photo printer as long as you use the No. 58 tri-color photo cartridge when printing. As a straight printer, it performs an admirable job although I still prefer the 5550 color accuracy over the 2175.

These days multifunction printers have gotten to the point that they can adequately perform the job of what used to be seperate components. Unless you have a need for professional level photo printing or scanning, the multifunction printers do a great job overall!

I have written several reviews on multifunction/All-in-one printers

The PSC HP 2210

The PSC HP 1210

The HP OfficeJet 6110

I am also trying to get my hands on one of Canon's high end multifunction machines based off the S900/950 print engine.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 159
Operating System: Windows

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