The HP Photosmart C4599 All-In-One printer is a limited editon inkjet printer with wireless network capability for under $200.  Right off the bat, it has promise.

We decided to take a closer look at the C4599.  Will it stand up to the test?  Find out below!

Photosmart C4599 Specifications

  • 3-in-1 device – print, copy and scan
  • Print speeds: 30 ppm in black, 23 ppm in color
  • Photos in 25 seconds (4 x 6”)
  • Print resolution: up to 4800 x 1200 optimized dpi
  • 1.5” LCD
  • Automatic paper-type sensor
  • Built-in memory card reader
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Energy Star Certified

The Basics

The first thing I noticed about the C4599 – even before I took it out of the box – was how little room it took up on my desk.  Even when I get compact printers in for review, they usually come in huge boxes with 2 lbs of Styrofoam.

The C4599 dimensions are approx. 17” x 11” x 6” and it weighs in at 11.16 lbs; small and light for an all-in-one machine.

I like the look of the C4599 as well.  It is mostly black with silver accents on the scanner lid and the paper tray door.  

The scanner flatbed is approx. 12” x 9”, I rounded up a bit.  It has labels for different media sizes around the outside of the glass.

Below the scanner, there is a door that flips open to the inside of the Photosmart C4599.  Here you can access the tray extender and load paper.

There is no paper tray with the C4599 because of its compact size.  The paper is loaded directly in to the printer; adjust the paper clasp on the left to fit the media size. 

 If you need to load new ink cartridges, there is a panel that opens above the paper area.

The control panel is located on the left side of the machine.  The power button, Wi-Fi button, and printer controls are all found here, as well as the 1.5” LCD. 

Below the control panel is the built-in memory card reader.  It supports Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, Secure Digital card, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital High Capacity card and xD-Picture card.

On the back of the machine, there is a USB port and the AC jack.

Setting up the C4599

The C4599 was relatively easy to set up.  There was a quick start guide to get the user started that goes over first time installation of ink, loading paper and use of the software CD. 

From there, the CD pretty much takes over; it installs drivers, software and helps the user with network installation if you decide to use the printer on a network.

The C4599 actually comes with quite a bit of software if you do the easy installation – some of it is useful, some not so much.   I would recommend choosing the advanced setup and deciding what software you want/need. For instance, I did not install the Customer Participation Program and Shop for HP supplies. 

The network installation was pretty painless and there are additional instructions in the HP Basics Guide – a separate manual from the quick start guide.

All in all, it took about 10 minutes to get the Photosmart C4599 set up and ready to print on a network.

Ease of use

The C4599 is a straightforward machine; it is not difficult to use although I did think the LCD was on the small side. It was hard to read because it was dark as well.  But the HP Solution Center software makes up for it; it was extremely simple to use. 

My favorite thing about the solution center was the ability to import your entire library of pictures into the HP Photosmart Essential library.   You can save them or not – I did not since it was for a review - but either way you can browse through every picture on your hard drive using the software if you so choose.

The HP Smart Web printing is useful as well.  It can help users print from the web without getting all the clutter of ads and color photos that can waste ink and paper. It automatically responds every time the user tries to print from the web but you can turn it off.

I didn’t download the HP Shopping software but it wasn’t a problem because users can buy HP supplies through the solution center.

The Photo projects are a mix of options that can be done at home or shipped to your home.  You can also have all the photos that you add to the Photosmart Essential library professionally printed and delivered to your home if you choose not to print them on your new C4599.

Printer Performance

HP says the C4599 can print up to 30 pages per minute in black ink.  The keywords in most print speed descriptions are “up to”.   I test each printer's black ink print speed with the same test job.  Each page of the job has only black text – no colors, no pictures.

The C4599 printed a measly seven pages per minute in normal mode.  That jumped up to 20 pages per minute in fast draft mode.  It took about a minute and half to print 30 pages in fast draft mode.

In all honestly, fast draft mode will save you time and money because it uses less ink and prints over double the amount of pages in the same amount of time.

HP’s draft mode is quite good as you can see from the picture.  The only noticeable difference is the bold headlines – in the draft mode version on the right the headlines are lighter.  As a student or professional, using draft mode on all black and white document print jobs - except for presentations perhaps - makes sense.

The text on the left is normal mode, the text on the right fast draft mode

The 48-bit scanner on the C4599 is decent when using the HP solution center software provided.  There are preset options and shortcuts or the user can manually set settings depending on what the job calls for and the user’s skill.  The optical resolution ceiling is 1200 dpi but don’t forget it is an all-in-one printer priced under $200 and 1200 dpi should be fine for the typical user. The maximum document scan size is 8.5 x 11.7 in.

The standalone copier was good; it took about 13 seconds to copy a document and print it from when I hit the copy button.  The copies were almost as good as the original if copying text.  When copying handwriting or photos, there is loss of quality but that’s to be expected.

The photo color was good, especially the reds, they were much brighter than other inkjets I’ve reviewed.  I did notice some clarity issues, specifically with the 4 x 6 in. prints.  In a couple of outdoor shots where there were blue skies or white snow it seemed like the printer was trying sharpen the image but instead parts of the snow and sky looked grainy.

The 8 x 10 in. prints of the same images were great so it was sort of strange.  And it only happened with three outdoor shots where there was a good amount of background space.

UPDATE: It may have been the paper I was using for those particular shots.  I went back and reviewed all the photos and the problem shots were printed on a different photo paper than the rest. 

The HP Photosmart Essential was helpful with editing and selecting photos for printing.  Honestly, to get a quality print, the camera the image was taken on and the size of the image are just as important as the printer and software included.

The built-in card reader worked, I could pull up images from the card and print without using my computer.  With a small LCD, it’s almost easier to use your PC.  Also, there was no PictBridge/USB option – but again not a huge deal since I’d rather print from my PC using the HP Solution Center.

Noise wasn’t too big of a factor with the C4599, it was fairly quite except when in fast draft mode, but most draft modes I’ve tested have been louder than normal printing modes.

Pros

  • Compact, stylish
  • Affordable all-in-one
  • Good printing solutions

Cons

  • Had some issue with grainy 4 x 6 in. prints
  • No paper tray
  • No PictBridge/USB option

Conclusion

The Photosmart C4599 is a decent choice as a home printer.  HP includes a scanner and copier along with the print capability and they have partnered with Apple and MySpace to give users printing solutions they can’t find elsewhere.

The photo quality was good and the print speeds in draft mode were decent for such a compact printer.  This might not be a great office printer since there is no paper tray, automatic duplexing or fax capability but it isn’t really targeted at that market.

Pricing and Availability

The HP Photosmart C4599 limited edition all-in-one printer retails for $149.99 on the HP website

Ink costs vary on HP's website depending on type of printing you want to accomplish.  The cheapest black ink and color ink cartridges start at $14.99 and 19.99, respectively.  If you want high volume black and color cartridges, the prices jump up to $34.99 and $40.99 but you do get more bang for your buck so to speak.

HP photo paper also varies depending on the quality.  The cheapest paper I found was a 20 pack of high gloss 4 x 6 in. with tab paper for $7.99.  The cheapest 8.5 x 11 in. paper was found in 15 packs of glossy or soft gloss paper for $10.99.

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