DCRP Review: HP PSC 2210 all-in-one
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally Posted: December 22, 2002

Last Updated: December 22, 2002

I must confess that I first learned about the HP PSC 2210 all-in-one from a television commercial. I watched as a woman printed out a contact sheet of digital photos (from her camera's memory card), bubbled-in circles next to the photos she wanted to print, put the paper in the scanner, and watched as her chosen photos were printed.

When I saw that, I knew I had to try it. I don't think printing digital photos gets much easier than that. The PSC 2210 ($299) isn't a one-trick pony though. In addition to its clever photo printing system, it's also a capable scanner, copier, and fax machine. Oh, and it can print boring stuff like text and graphics too.

The 2210 can work as a standalone device, or as part of a Mac/PC system.

Read on to learn more about the PSC 2210!

Look and Feel

The PSC 2210 looks like a big Deskjet printer. It's made almost entirely of plastic, and it feels decently put together. The dimensions of the 2210 are 18.2 x 8.7 x 14.6 inches (W x H x D), and it weighs about 18 pounds.

The bottom half of the 2210 looks just like a Deskjet. Up on top is the scanner, with the controls and LCD info display to the right. At the lower right you can see the memory card slots.

The paper tray at the bottom can hold up to 100 sheets. Opening the printer up to get to the two ink cartridges is a little awkward as well.

Let's take a closer look now.

Above you can see the scanner mechanism. You can scan documents as large as A4-sized.

Here's a closer look at the control panel. As you can see there are separate modes for copying, faxing, and scanning documents, as well as one for the photo card functions. Everything else here should be fairly self-explanatory. The LCD info display shown at the top shows the date when not updating you on the status of the current operation.

Here you can see the 2210's memory card slots. It can read the following cards:

  • CompactFlash Type I/II, including IBM Microdrives < 528 MB
  • Secure Digital
  • Memory Stick
  • SmartMedia

I'll have more on how all this works in just a second.

Finally, here are the ports on the back of the PSC 2210. There are two phone ports: one line-in, and the other for attaching a telephone. There is also a USB port, which you'll use to hook into a Mac or PC.

Despite including ink and some printer paper with the 2210, HP does NOT include a USB cable. Grrr...

Photo Printing

The PSC 2210's standout feature is its ability to let you print photos very easily. Assuming you have one of the compatible memory card formats, here's how it works.

First you just pop the memory card into the appropriate slot on the printer. The printer will read the card and then you have a number of options. You can transfer the photos to your computer (assuming you're hooked up via USB cable), or print them in two ways.

Choose to save photos to your PC, and they will be queued for later retrieval. To do so, you just use the HP Photo & Imaging Director to unload the images to your disk. This processed failed on my Mac OS X 10.2.3 system, but the card was mounted on the desktop, so I could've just copied them manually.

If you want to print the photos directly from the memory card, you have two choices: with or without a contact sheet. If you do the latter, you just choose one or all photos, and away it goes. But since the contact sheet is what makes the PSC 2210 unique, I'll expand on that.

With a press of a button, the 2210 will make a proof sheet of your photos, like the one above. It may take a few minutes to print the proof sheet -- it really depends on the resolution of the images on the card.

To print a photo, just bubble in the circle below it. Then pick if you want single or double prints, how large you want your prints, the paper size, and if you want a border. It's just like a Scantron test!

Put the proof sheet back in the scanner, press the Proof Sheet button, then tell it to scan it. That takes a few seconds and then it starts to print your photos! Very cool.

How long does the whole process take? From the time I hit the "scan proof sheet" button to the time an 8X10 inch print came out of the print, 6 minutes had elapsed. Obviously this number will vary depending on a number of things, including the original photo resolution, and the size of the print being made.

And the quality? That depends on which ink cartridge you use. For best results, replace the HP 56 black ink cartridge with the HP 58 photo cartridge. This will give you true six color (rather than four color) printing, and will produce the best results. Also, don't use plain paper, use HP's glossy or matte photo paper.

Using the six color inks and premium paper, the results are excellent. They are sharp, saturated, and photo-realistic. Prints rival those from my Epson Stylus Photo 1270, as well as those from dye-sublimation printers I have used in the past.

Obviously a scan of a 8 x 10 print isn't a good indicator of the quality, but I'm doing it anyway. If you are interested in the PSC 2210, I highly recommend going to a local store to see some real sample prints in person.

By the way, you can print photos from your Mac or PC as well, just like you would with any printer.

Normal Printing

In its standard ink setup (CMYK), the PSC 2210 can be used as an everyday printer. You connect the printer via USB to your Mac or PC. The printer is Mac OS X compatible.

HP claims B&W print speeds of up to 17 pages/min, and color prints speeds of up to 12 ppm, in "fast" mode. The higher the print quality you demand, the slower it'll print.

In real world usage, printers rarely hit those top numbers. Still, I was able to print the first two pages of this review, in color, in about 90 seconds. That time is from the moment I hit print in the browser.

As far as plain text printing, I printed out a 3.5 page text document in about 80 seconds, again including the spooling time on the computer. While not as sharp as a laser printer, most folks will be satisfied with the output from the 2210.

The Mac/PC printer drivers have a number of unique features, most of which are tailored to photo printing. These include:

  • Contrast enhancement
  • SmartFocus - enhances image quality and sharpness on low resolution photos
  • Digital Flash - enhances detail in dark areas
  • Sharpness
  • Smoothing

Scanning

The PSC 2210 is also a scanner, with an optical resolution of 1200 x 2400. They are recorded at 48 bit color depth.

If you've got a PC or older Mac, the scanner is TWAIN compliant. Mac OS X doesn't have much in the line of TWAIN support yet.

If you're not using TWAIN, you're using HP Scan. This is a simple-to-use piece of software that lets you scan into a variety of formats, including TIFF. One nice option is the ability to save a file as TIFF and immediately open it in Photoshop. You can use HP's Photo & Imaging Gallery software to browse and edit your scans as well.

As you can see, there are a number of adjustments you can make before an image is even scanned.

Doing a preview scan of an image takes about 25 seconds, measured from the time the preview button is clicked. A regular scan at the settings shown in the window above didn't take much longer.

Copying

You can use the PSC 2210 has a stand-alone copier, or use your computer to control it. You can make up to 99 copies per original, and can enlarge or reduce by 25-400%.

Speed varies, much like with regular prints. HP gives a range of 0.8 - 17 ppm, depending on the quality mode chosen, and whether it's black & white or color.

In my own tests, I made a color copy of the proof sheet you saw earlier in 78 sec, and a black & white copy of the Canon EOS system chart in 41 sec.

As I mentioned, you can also use your Mac or PC to control the copier. There are quite a few options available, as you can see. It's also a little easier to control the copier on the computer, in my opinion.

Faxing

Not a whole lot to talk about here, so I'll just give you a few basics. The PSC 2210 can fax in black & white or color. It sends an average page in about 6 seconds. It can store up to 60 pages in memory, and also holds up to 60 phone numbers. If you can't get through, it will redial up to five times.

The fax feature is the one thing on the 2210 that your computer cannot control.

Operating Costs

There are three types of ink available, and over 20 types of paper. Let's start with the inks.

  • hp 56 black inkjet print cartridge - $19.99
  • hp 58 photo inkjet print cartridge - $24.99
  • hp 57 tri-color inkjet print cartridge - $34.99

Unlike dye-sublimation printers, where you can really calculate the cost per print, that's much harder on inkjet printers like the PSC 2210. It really depends on what you print. When it's time for more ink, it will be costly, but they should last for a while.

There are tons of paper options available, ranging from generic white paper to premium glossy paper to greeting card paper. Rather than list them all, here is a selection:

  • hp everyday photo paper, semi-gloss, 8.5 x 11 inch, 25 sheets - $6.99
  • hp premium photo paper, glossy, 4 x 6 inch, 20 sheets - $7.99
  • hp photo greeting cards, white, half-fold, 10 cards & envelopes - $8.99
  • hp textured greeting cards, ivory, half-fold, 20 cards & envelopes - $12.99
  • hp iron-on transfers, 12 transfer sheets, 8.5 x 11 inch - $14.99
  • hp premium plus photo paper, glossy or matte, 8.5 x 11 inch, 20 sheets - $17.99
  • hp premium plus photo paper, glossy, 4 x 6 inch, 60 sheets - $24.99

The list goes on and on, believe me. The point is that there are a lot of options available. And before you ask, yes, the expensive paper does make a difference when you're printing photos.

Final Thoughts

The HP PSC 2210 all-in-one definitely lives up to the hype, especially when it comes to easy photo printing. The proof sheet system is very clever, and can be used by people of any age. The multi-function features of the 2210 like faxing, scanning, and copying may not get a lot of use outside of the home office, but they're a nice bonus to the 2210's impressive photo printing abilities. The trick to getting the best photos with any inkjet printer is to use the nice premium paper -- it really does matter. For the 2210 specifically, the photo ink cartridge is a must.

The 2210 can be operated as a stand-alone unit, or hooked up to your Mac or PC. It offers a lot of flexibility, and if I didn't already have a similar device in my home office, I'd be very interested in it. I wish HP would've included a USB cable though -- sheesh!

Be sure to check one out in person before you buy. Look at the print samples that I can't provide here. THe PSC 2210 is definitely worth a look.

Feedback

Jeff always appreciates your comments and questions. Due to my limited resources, please do not ask for a personal recommendation.

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