HP PSC 2410 Photosmart All-In-One Print/Scan/Copy/Fax Machine
Company:
Hewlett-Packard Company
Price: $300 US
http://www.hp.com

In the interest of sanity (mine) I’m dividing into two parts our review of this exceptional multifunction device. First review will cover PSC 2410’s primary purpose: printing, scanning, and copying. Second segment will address memory card features, faxing, and bundled productivity/creativity software.

USB setup and software installation are smooth, placing HP’s “Photo and Imaging Director” software onto the computer. You’ll figure out how to do basic print/scan/copy tasks quickly if you’re familiar with them from previous equipment and software. I did my best not to use the printed manual at first, without any catastrophes, but I missed out on many less than obvious features.

An ENORMOUS compliment and THANK YOU goes to everyone responsible for creating the most impressive, thorough Reference Guide we’ve ever seen. With 150 pages of packed, straightforward information, this book (and it is a BOOK) should serve as a model for each competitor who considers a folded instruction sheet and PDF manual full-service. Baloney! Given the modest price of PSC 2410, HP intends purchasers to get maximum usage from the unit, if they are intrepid people who immerse themselves in the aforementioned full-disclosure Reference Guide. Bravo.

Speaking of price, be aware you are purchasing a “reverse cash ink cow” from HP. Expensive 17 ml or 19 ml PSC 2410 cartridges yield high-quality images and pages, but contain not a tremendous quantity of ink (I’m being generous here) for the demands of a power-printer. Is this a deal breaker? In a function-per-dollar competition, PSC is a winner, so it’s a tough call when pages-per-dollar (not very many!) come into question.

Styling and design incorporate HP’s new gentle curves. A front panel key pad disguises many hidden commands, so studying the Reference Guide is essential. Ditto for dozens of worthwhile components within the generous software suite. Special mention: PSC 2410’s tilting LCD mini-display, which will be covered in phase two of our review; and to the unit’s nifty built-in multi-card reader, which is becoming standard on photo printers. Yippeeeeee.

David Weeks and I remain unenthused regarding HP’s printer software and dialog boxes in OS 9 and X/Jaguar. We won’t beat this one unnecessarily, except to mention that more time was wasted on settings that didn’t stick and “print” attempts that didn’t communicate than with any other product, by a long mile. Panther’s new way of working with printers is supposed to fix the problems we encountered, so think positive.

NEWS FLASH: The entire review was written and ready to post before I had an opportunity to test this machine with OS X 10.3.2/Panther’s new built-in Printer Setup Utility. My computer recognized the HP and its driver in USB printer mode, searched for, obtained, and loaded a new driver (impressive!), and sent my first document to the printer, all in less than five minutes. This sort of compatibility is built into Windows XP, so it’s delightful to see Apple doing a first-rate job here. Now, back to our review, but keep my praise for Panther configuration in mind.

PSC 2410 has a wireless-capable sibling, PSC 2510, for buyers who need untethered printers. Several other models fill out the family tree at lower or higher price points, but PSC 2410 is possibly HP’s best value because of its talented fax machine, to be discussed separately.

The Macintosh community is quickly being welcomed into nearly every facet of HP’s lineup, which is wonderful. MyMac.com is in touch with the HP product manager responsible for getting their “We love Apple” word out. The following contents page has links to the entire story, which is updated frequently: http://www.hp.com/go/mac-connect. I saw most of these products at last month’s Macworld Expo within a very crowded and well-stocked HP booth just inside the front door of Moscone Center’s South Hall. Could have spent an entire day learning about all their latest goodies.

Here is the specific URL for PSC 2410, including a link for its impressive specifications.

Scanning takes two or three sessions to master. Without a TWAIN driver, PSC 2410 works best when scanned images are SAVED to your desktop for tweaking within Photoshop/Elements or comparable applications. Learning print settings requires a bit more mental effort, because HP’s options are neither intuitive nor consistent. If you’re not using X/Panther, be patient while you work through the kinks, which are unpredictable from our experience. Copying is the least straightforward, because no obvious ways to manipulate your copies exist. Again, the Reference Guide is your friend, and copies can be great when you know what and where to click or press.

With two ink cartridge wells, PSC 2410 is shipped for nothing-special color/black printing. Photographers and artists can purchase an optional third “Photo Color” cartridge of fade-resistant ink, which can be swapped in or out for fine printing. HP says it’s okay to store inactive, opened cartridges, which we intend to test during review round two.

Print speeds are fine, being neither exceptionally quick nor slow. HP’s many premium and ordinary quality papers give PSC 2410 users an extensive number of media options. MyMac.com has a high opinion of HP’s paper products, none of which were tested during this review. Warning: USB “A/B” printer cable needs to be purchased separately, which we still think is unfortunate.

Support is up to par with PSC 2410’s Reference Guide. One-year telephone support, limited hardware warranty, and extensive Internet resources add value to the product. We have been pleased with the results of our infrequent calls to HP’s phone techies during the past year, and hope this service continues.

Having a product to review for such a long time gives me a gut feeling regarding its usefulness and value for money. In OS 9, PSC 2410 is hard to recommend, because its software delays booting by a couple of unnecessary minutes, and printer software is furiously buggy. If only my G3 iMac has these annoyances, I’ll be surprised. On a faster OS X machine, especially running Panther, don’t expect comparable aggravation.

Hewlett-Packard is an enormous world-leader corporation that is making a significant effort to product affordable, versatile, consumer-level equipment, software, and supplies for the Macintosh community. They often get it right, and they sometimes get it wrong, but they get it done and get it out! MyMac.com says “The more the merrier.”

How will we ever rate such an accomplished all-in-one performer? Every day I’m asked if multipurpose printer/scanner/copiers (with or without fax capability) are better to buy than standalone hardware. I’ve used all of the above for years, and I stand firm that for most home and small office users an all-in-one machine provides superior value, functionality, integration, and space-saving worth any minor deficiencies in product specs. Notwithstanding PSC 2410’s printer annoyances, this combo device is consistent with my views.

With its outstanding printed manual, decent scanner/copier/keypad hardware (watch for potential minor color shifting) and software, good-quality but possibly buggy printer, and stingy ink supply, the feature set and purchase value of HP’s PSC 2410 is worth your consideration for these attributes alone. Once we factor in the components to be covered in the second part of our review, your decision on this multi-purpose product will be easier to make.

Our overall MyMac.com rating of PSC 2410 as printer, scanner, and copier is between 3 and 4, depending upon your computer and operating system.

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