Tag: HP Photosmart Premium Fax C309

Buyer’s Guide–Buying a printer for your small business


You might be at that position where the computer printer at your small business is “on its last legs” or becoming impossible to run economically. On the other hand, you may find you are working your existing printer harder and need to consider a machine that is suited to your current workload.

Similarly, as the end of the financial year approaches, you will face advertising from computer resellers and retailers; and office-supply stores for technology like printers at very enticing prices, usually to allow businesses to buy capital equipment that can be quickly offset against their income for tax purposes. This can become more intense whenever the government announces significant tax breaks for business owners when they purchase capital equipment.

At this point, you could easily make a mistake concerning the purchase of a printer and end up buying the wrong machine for your needs. I have prepared this buyers’ guide so you can be sure you are getting the right printer to suit your business’s needs and be able to use a machine that gives you more “bang for the buck”.

Printer classes

Laser printers

HP LaserJet Pro 1560 printer

HP LaserJet Pro 1560 monochrome laser printer

A laser printer uses a xerographic dry-printing mechanism to print the image to the paper, in a similar way to how the classic photocopier worked. But they use a laser or, in cheaper printers, an LED to illuminate the photostatic drum with the computer-generated image to be printed.

Colour laser printers use four of these mechanisms to imprint the four colours and some cheaper versions may use only one drum and four toners to print the same page; which will take longer to come out.

This class of printer is typically known for printing many copies of “press-quality” documents and has started the “desktop-publishing” revolution.

It is worth knowing that some laser printers will use a cartridge which has an integrated drum as well as the toner supply while others like most of the Brother range will use a separately-replaceable drum unit. With the latter model, you may have to factor in the cost of the drum unit which will occur later on in the machine’s life; usually after 17000-25000 pages.

Business Inkjet printers

HP OfficeJet 6500

HP OfficeJet 6500 business inkjet multifunction printer

This class of inkjet printer is pitched primarily at business users and uses high-capacity cartridges and is optimised for a high duty cycle. They will also have business-target functionality like advanced fax functionality and the ability to work with advanced networks.

Consumer Inkjet printers

Canon PIXMA MX-350 multifunction printer

Canon PIXMA MX-350 multifunction printer with fax

Typically this class of network printer will be optimised for photographic printing and have inks that reproduce photos well. But on the other hand, they will be optimised for a low duty cycle with low-capacity ink cartridges. If they have fax functionality, this functionality will be very basic and as far as network connectivity is concerned, these printers will be suited to a basic small network.

Buying dilemmas that a business owner can face

As a business owner, you may face some buying dilemmas when you choose certain printers. This is especially as manufacturers design printers, especially multifunction printers, that effectively have similar capabilities to others of a different class. Here, the prices for the machines are similar and they may have similar print speeds or functionalities. But there may be certain key differences like the cost to run the machine or the machine’s prowess at particular print jobs.

The two main examples of this are: a high-end fax-equipped consumer inkjet multifunction like the HP Photosmart Premium Fax C410a ( an ePrint-enabled successor to the HP Photosmart Premium Fax C309a full-duplex inkjet printer) and a network-capable business inkjet multifunction like the HP OfficeJet 6500A Series; or a high-end business inkjet multifunction like the HP OfficeJet Pro 8500 Series and en entry-level colour laser multifunction like the HP Colour LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw.

High-end consumer inkjet vs a business inkjet

HP Photosmart Premium Fax C410 consumer inkjet printer

HP Photosmart Premium Fax C410 - a high-end consumer inkjet multifunction printer

A high-end consumer inkjet printer will be optimised for photo printing whereas a low-end networkable business inkjet will be primarily targeted at printing large runs of documents. This will affect ink-cartridge capacity, machine durability, functionality and printer throughput in many ways.

The former printer will typically have five or more inks and these inks will typically be in lower-capacity cartridges which need replacing more often than the four inks used in a low-end business inkjet printer. I would still suggest that businesses prefer the models with separately-replaceable ink cartridges because each ink can be replaced as needed.

As well, these consumer-level printers will typically have functions that make it easier to print pictures directly from a digital camera whether it’ is “tethered” by a USB cable or one takes the “film” (memory card) out of the camera. Some of these printers may offer the ability to print from a mobile phone via Bluetooth whether through integrated circuitry or an optional Bluetooth module.

HP OfficeJet 6500a business inkjet printer

HP OfficeJet 6500a - a modest-priced business inkjet printer

It may be worth knowing that some business-level inkjets are acquiring this kind of functionality but most of these printers won’t turn out the high-quality prints from digital cameras. Here, this functionality may be useful for applications where print quality doesn’t matter like hardcopy proofs that are used for “shortlisting” pictures for a project.

I would consider the premium consumer-level inkjet printer as a business printer if you rely on it for turning out high-quality digital prints whether from your PC or your digital camera and don’t do much printing on it. If you want the best of both worlds, you could get by with a dedicated photo-optimised printer for photographic jobs and a business-grade multifunction printer for regular business printouts.

High-end business inkjet vs an entry-level colour laser

An example of this situation is HP’s OfficeJet Pro 8500a inkjet and the HP Colour LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw.

HP OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus multifunction inkjet printer

HP OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus - a hign-end business inkjet multifunction printer

These printers have a similar throughput to each other when printing pages and also turn out a similar copy quality for the documents that are printed. It doesn’t matter whether the documents are ordinary text documents or documents filled with graphics. There may be some glaring functionality differences like the support for duplex operation or memory type. In this example, the OfficeJet Pro 8500a had “full duplex” functionality where it could print on both sides of a sheet of paper and scan both sides of a printed document whereas the LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw could only print or scan one side of a page. Conversely, the LaserJet Pro used flash memory for its fax-related features like no-paper receive, “fax vault” or send-later while the OfficeJet Pro used regular RAM memory for the same functions.

HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw colour laser multifunction printer

HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw - an example of an entry-level colour laser multifunction printer

The cost-per-page for an entry-level colour laser printer is slightly cheaper than a high-end business inkjet that is fed the high-capacity cartridges although manufacturers like HP are  implementing ink cartridges in these printers that have a similar or better cost-per-page to the laser printers.  On the other hand, the inkjet is more flexible with print media than the laser because it doesn’t use any heat to bond the marking material to the paper. This can make it useful for printing short-run documents to glossy material or printing out labels and transparencies.

Dedicated printer vs multifunction printers

An increasing number of printers on the market, like most of the printers I have reviewed on this site, are of the “multifunction” type with a built-in scanner mechanism. Here, these printers will be able to scan to the computer or work as convenience light-duty photocopiers. Most of the business-focused multifunction printers are able to work as fax machines and these units typically are equipped with an automatic document feeder.

Compare this with the dedicated printers which just print from a computer. This class of printer is typically represented by laser printers or some photo-grade inkjet printers pitched at the graphic arts users.

A multifunction printer can work well as an all-round “workhorse” printer for most office applications whereas a dedicated printer can serve “infill” requirements that the multifunction cannot achieve. For example, you could use a colour inkjet multifunction printer as the main office printer in a doctor’s office while you have a monochrome laser printer turning out health-insurance forms and accounts that are part of the workflow. Similarly, you could use an A3 colour inkjet printer for turning out plans, signs and similar documents while you use a regular A4 multifunction for regular printing needs.

Features worthy of note

Auto-duplex printing

A feature that is becoming common amongst a lot of printers is auto-duplex printing. Here, the printer is able to automatically “flip” the page to print on the reverse side of the paper. This has become popular as a paper-saving measure but some of us may find it of value as a desktop-publishing benefit.

This is demonstrably so with laser printers like the Brother HL4150CDN colour laser that I recently reviewed. Here, the printer can print “to the edge” yet work on both sides of the page. As well, laser printers don’t have to “dwell” for up to 15 seconds to allow the ink to dry, thus it doesn’t have significant impact on print speed. Infact the previously-mentioned Brother printer could work both sides of two pages at once and with this, there is effectively no throughput penalty if you intend to do duplex or booklet printing.

Some inkjet printers, namely HP printers, may require a non-printed margin at the top and bottom of the page for auto-duplex printing. This is perceived to permit reliable paper handling but can be a problem if you intend to print landscape documents or “work to the edge” in your documents. It is also worth noting that some printers such as cheaper high-throughput colour lasers may only be able to use this function for the common document paper sizes like A4 or Letter.

At the moment, it is worth noting that not many of these colour laser printers that have auto-duplex printing can print on both sides of small-page “flyer-size” documents like A5, DL or postcard. This is usually because the auto-duplex mechanisms are not able to reliably push the small sheets of paper through the colour laser printing mechanism in order to print on both sides of the flyer.

It may be worth knowing that some high-end A4 multifunction printers will be likely to have “full duplex” functionality. This means that they will have auto-duplex printing as well as an automatic document feeder that can scan both sides of a page. This typically leads to functions like automatic “both-sides” copying and faxing.

Use as the business fax machine

Brother MFC-7460DN monochrome laser multifunction printer

Brother MFC-7460DN monochrome laser multifunction printer

Firstly, most of the multifunction printers that appeal to the business user will have an integrated fax functionality. This can be of use if that old fax machine has nearly “had it” or is becoming costly to run due to its use of the thermal-transfer tape.

Infact, the purchase of a low-end plain-paper fax that uses this kind of printing is really a false economy because these fax machines will work through the thermal-transfer tape even if a page is partially written on. Instead, a fax-equipped multifunction printer uses the ink or toner when and where it needs to mark the document.

As well, it will save on bench space because you don’t have to have a separate machine to receive your faxes on. This is an important requirement for small offices and shops where this space can be at a premium.

It is also worth knowing that the inkjet and colour-laser multifunction printers that have the fax functionality are capable of receiving and transmitting faxes in colour to businesses equipped with similarly-capable equipment. Here, if you select “Colour Fax” on these machines, they will transmit the document according to “best-case” rules where if the receiving machine isn’t colour-capable, the transmission will succeed with the document being in monochrome. Other examples of these printers offering increased value for money as a small-business fax machine include the business class printers offering a “fax-vault” function where you can set the unit to hold received documents in memory and print them when required; or “print-to-fax” functions or “fax-to-computer” functions so you can fax a document from your computer or capture a faxed document to your computer without reprinting it.

Of course, these machines will have the expected fax functionality and can work with a dedicated fax line or a shared phone line, including support for “distinctive ring” dedicated-fax-number setups like Telstra’s Faxstream Duet.

What to be careful of

The two-cartridge colour inkjet printer

A lot of inexpensive consumer and small-business inkjet printers still use two cartridges for their printing setup. One of these cartridges is the black cartridge while the other is a “tri-colour” ink cartridge that houses the cyan, magenta and yellow inks in one plastic body.

The main problem with this design is that if one colour runs out in the colour cartridge, you have to replace the whole cartridge even if there is plenty of ink remaining for the other colours. It can become more exacerbating if you print material using your business’s trad dress which will be dominant in particular colours.

This may be OK for an occasionally-used printer but should be avoided if you use your printer frequently. Instead, look for a midrange printer that uses four or more ink cartridges with each colour in its own cartridge.

Wi-Fi-only network connectivity

Another feature common with inexpensive network multifunction printers is to provide Wi-Fi as the only network connection method. This is more so with the printers that are positioned at the consumer end of the market.

There are a few limitations with this setup. One is that you have to run a Wi-Fi network to obtain the benefits of network connectivity and this can be fraught with problems because of Wi-Fi being a radio based method. For example, walls made out of double-brick, cinder-block or reinforced concrete can play havoc with a Wi-Fi link; as can metal-reflective insulation. This limits the ability to connect the printer to your business network using alternative network technologies like Ethernet or HomePlug powerline networking.

As well, a lot of these printers require the user to configure them for the wireless network by connecting them to a host computer and running manufacturer-supplied software before they will work with that network. The exception to this rule for most of these printers is Wi-Fi network segments that use WPS “push-to-connect” setup, where you may push a button on the printer or select a menu option to start the configuration process. This is although the HP ePrint-enabled Wi-Fi-only consumer printers like the Photosmart Wireless-E B110a economy printer and the HP Envy 100 (D410) slimline printer do support configuration for non-WPS wireless networks from the control panel.

Recommendations for most businesses

General-office work

I would recommend a midrange network-connected business inkjet multifunction printer with four ink cartridges and auto-duplex printing for a “general-use” workhorse printer. It may be OK to use a high-end consumer printer or low-end business inkjet for low-traffic applications like a secondary printer.

A photo-optimised consumer printer like a Canon PiXMA or HP Photosmart may be good as a secondary printer for applications where you value high-quality photo prints with the full saturation. Some manufacturers may offer a dedicated photo-optimised printer but typically these can be very expensive and are pitched at the graphic-arts industries.

A dedicated monochrome laser printers can be useful for printing out forms or documents as what would be required of medical, legal or similar professions. Here, it would be wise to look for auto-duplex-equipped units if you turn out many multipage documents like most legal documents. As well, I would recommend that these machines are network-connected if you have or intend to have two or more computer workstations that will turn out the documents.

HP OfficeJet 7000 wide-format printer

HP OfficeJet 7000 A3 wide-format inkjet printer

If you don’t care about colour printing but turn out many documents, you could get by with a monochrome laser multifunction printer like the recently-released Brother units or the HP LaserJet M1212nf that I had previously reviewed. Then if you want to do colour printing at a later date, you could add on a dedicated colour printer like the HP OfficeJet 6000 inkjet; HP OfficeJet 7000 A3 inkjet or Brother HL-4150CDN laser “desktop-publishing workhorse”.

Promoting your business yourself

You may want to use a colour laser printer as a promotion tool for your business. I have infact written up an article about why it is worth considering these printers as a buying option. Here, it would be a good idea to stick to high-throughput colour laser printers like the Brother HL-4150CDN especially if you do a lot of your own short-run publishing, including “infill” print runs.

You may want to take advantage of the larger A3 page size as a paper size for signage and similar material. It may even come in handy within the office for turning out large spreadsheets or business charts that can have more detail. Here, you may look at a single-tray A3 multifunction like the HP OfficeJet 7500 for occasional A3 use or a dual-tray A3 multifunction like the Brother MFC-6490CW or dedicated A3 printer like the HP OfficeJet 7000 if you do turn out a lot of A3 material.

Brother MFC-6490CW A3 inkjet multifunction printer

Brother MFC-6490CW A3 inkjet multifunction printer


In simple terms, I would suggest that you check how much the printer will cost to run; such as the price of replacement ink or toner cartridges; the availability of high-capacity cartridges and the kid of cartridges used and other cost-saving practices like auto-duplex

Then make sure that your printer can suit your current needs as well as allowing for future needs.Here, you can then own and run the right printer that will serve your business’s needs for many years without being a drain on your business’s cashflow.

Product Review – Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Premium Fax (C309 Series)

I am now reviewing the Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Premium Fax all-in-one printer, which might be considered as a “bridge” product between the devices which are pitched at the consumer market and the devices pitched at the small-business market. HP Photosmart Premium Fax

The unit is finished in a gloss-white finish which may make it look the part with earlier Apple iPods or similar devices and has a good-quality fit and finish about it. You still get a CD full of drivers and software to run this printer on Windows and MacOS X but the best location for the latest driver and software files is at the HP support website.


The printer is similar to the other HP inkjet machines I have reviewed. Here, it is easy to access the mechanism which is important when loading ink cartridges or rectifying paper jams without requiring much effort to open the access lid or mess with stays.

The unit’s display, although a bit small like most colour displays used on “all-in-one” devices, is still bright and easy to read. It also can be angled up to suit your preferred viewing arrangement.


One major drawcard that this printer excels in is connectivity beyond the usual “direct-to-PC” USB connection.

Network and Camera Connectivity

It can be connected to an 802.11g Wi-Fi wireless network or an Ethernet network. This also gives it an advantage when you want to have reliable network printing or use of HomePlug or MoCA “no-new-wires” wired-network technologies.

You can enrol it to any 802.11g WPA2-Personal network either using Windows Connect Now (USB / memory-card configuration transfer) or from the unit’s control panel. When you enter the WPA Passphrase, you can “pick-n-choose” the characters on the LCD screen keyboard or enter it “SMS-style” using the numeric keypad.

There is a Bluetooth interface available if you want to connect your laptop or PDA to the printer for wireless printing. This also works as a method for printing pictures from standards-compliant Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and cameras. If you use an Apple iPhone, you may have to look through iTunes for an app that supports Bluetooth Object Push Profile.

There is a USB host port for use when you print from a USB memory key or a PictBridge-enabled camera. At the moment, this port can’t be used with external optical drives for printing from CDs. There is also a memory card reader for use when you want to print from your camera card. Here, it can work with SDHC cards as well as regular SD, MemoryStick, XD Picture Cards and CompactFlash cards.

The printer can work as a UPnP printer but this functionality hasn’t been fully exploited in the marketplace. As well, it can work as a DPWS printer which provides for full integration with Windows Vista and 7 computers.

Walk-up functionality

The printer supports walk-up functionality for printing from camera cards with image select on the machine’s LCD screen or from DPOF print-lists or a camera operated in PictBridge mode. This is improved with the use of a separate feed tray for 4×6 paper for use with turning out prints of “happy snaps”. Here, the machine can turn out these pictures very quickly, which is important when you print from your camera card or PictBridge-connected camera.

You also have copying functionality that would be equivalent to what was offered from top-of-the-range office copiers of the late 80s, save for the ability to work with A3 paper. This includes a “RADF”-type automatic document feeder that “turns over” the original page to copy both sides as well as double-sided printing.

You can scan images or documents to USB thumbdrives or memory cards using the control panel, but if you want to scan documents to a computer on the network from the control panel, you have to install the full software on each of the computers.

The fax functionality is similar to what was offered on the OfficeJet 6500. This is with the ability to work with separate or shared phone lines, including the ability to work with distinctive-ring fax numbers like FaxStream Duet; or answering machines. There is still the limitation concerning the memory capacity when it comes to delayed sending and the unit can only use its memory to hold incoming faxes in case of problems like paper / ink shortage.

There is also a “Quick Forms” function for printing out some paper-based games as well as pre-printed paper types like ruled notepaper, graph paper or music manuscript paper. With this function, there isn’t much configuration available with printing some of these paper types. For example, the music paper is only limited to 10 staves for portrait layout or 8 staves for landscape layout. This may be a limitation for some musicians who need to score music for the organ or write “vocal melody + piano arrangement” scores, which depend on having groups of three staves.


This unit is the first all-in-one that I have used which has a “double-sided” automatic document feeder. This feature, once reserved for some high-end office copiers, can allow you to save time in scanning documents that are printed on both sides. This would make the machine more legitimate for applications like creating digital archives of paper documents or making paper documents available on the Web.

It can support “pull-scanning” with Windows Image Acquisition but you would need to install the full HP software if you want to do “push-scanning” over the network. The reason is that most of the operating systems haven’t yet supported network-based “push scanning” or the ability to enumerate scan destinations to a scanner “out of the box”.


For a consumer machine, this unit is very flexible when it comes to printing. It has a separate photo tray for snapshot-sized paper and has a mechanism for printing on to optical discs that are capable of being printed on by inkjet printers.

There is the ability to save paper by use of an automatic duplexer that permits the printer to use both sides of the paper. This device will add 15 seconds per page to the printout time as it allows the ink to dry on one side before working on the other side.

Print reliability

The printer can handle large printing jobs of up to 100 sheets adequately, but it may be better to use wired network connectivity if you do this kind of printing frequently. I had noticed that there was a squeaking noise coming from the duplexer when it was doing a double-sided print run but this may be a problem specific to a well-used review sample that was “doing the rounds”.

If you are using the automatic double-sided printing facility in this printer, each side of the document may shift by as much as 5 centimetres to the other side. This may affect projects where you expect both sides to line up accurately and you may have to use manual double-sided printing for these projects.

Print quality

The document print quality is very sharp, of a standard similar to most of the good inkjet printers around. But when it comes to handling photos, the Photosmart Premium Fax is very accurate especially with flesh tones. Even throwing an older picture of a old friend’s “mustard collection” at this printer also showed up how it performed with an image of many different colours.

These photographic-quality tests were done using a full-size print on A4 sheets of the HP Advanced Photo Paper, so I can assess the quality of the prints more easily.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

The printer could benefit from WPS easy-setup for wireless networks now that most wireless routers that are on the market now support this kind of setup and device enrolment.  It could also benefit from Internet-based time synchronisation with automatically-updated daylight-savings rules so that users don’t have to make sure the clock, which is important for the fax function, is kept accurate.

This machine may be positioned as a “top-shelf” consumer all-in-one printer but could support the use of OfficeJet ink cartridges as an alternative or in addition to the Photosmart cartridges. This could then allow for use of higher-capacity document-centric cartridges for document printing while the photo-centric cartridges could be used for “high-graphics” work like photo printing. This would then improve the Photosmart Premium Fax all-in-one printer’s position as a “bridge” printer that stands between the consumer class and the small-business class of printers.

As I have said many times in this blog, including other printer reviews, printer manufacturers should look towards providing increased local non-volatile flash memory in to all of their network printer and all-in-one designs now that the cost of such memory has become affordable. It can be offered as a user-installed option like a separate card slot for SDHC cards or 2.5” SATA storage slot for hard disks and SSD drives; or supplied as standard with the printer. This can then increase capacity for such situations as deferred printing, scheduled “fax-to-memory” reception, scheduled fax transmission and large print or fax runs. It can also allow one to remove their camera card or PictBridge-connected camera while their pictures are being printed so they don’t appear to be tying up the machine and they can continue to grab more shots.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This all-in-one printer would be best placed as the main printer for a home office, especially where there is a likelihood for people to print photos from the computer or a camera. The fax function will also be considered important for users who run a small business or organisation from their home.

On the other hand, if you are after a networkable “all-in-one” printer and you don’t print many digital pictures from your camera, you may be better off going for an economy small-business model like the HP OfficeJet 6500 which I have reviewed previously.

Declaration of Benefit

After this review was published, I have taken up the offer of purchasing a new HP Photosmart Premium Fax printer directly through HP at a 50% discount as part of a standard agreement that they have with journalists, but this hasn’t affected my reviews concerning HP products.