HP Photosmart eStation C510 review

Full review: Inkjet printer with Android tablet and Apple Airprint

TODO alt text

Print quality is high, but its mediocre removable tablet doesn't impress

At almost £400, HP’s eStation C510 might seem horrendously expensive for a five-tank multifunction inkjet printer (although it’s currently £189 at Curry’s) but some very interesting features do much to justify the otherwise-high asking price.

First, there’s ePrint. If you connect the printer to your local network through WiFi instead of directly to your computer with USB (there’s no Ethernet option), you can print by emailing a compatible document to your printer’s unique email address. You can send from any email-capable device, with no additional software to install, and it works with PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, Powerpoint files, plain text and images saved as JPG, TIFF, BMP, PNG and GIF.

Secondly, the printer is compatible with Apple’s AirPrint. A compatible iOS device can connect to your eStation C510 and print from Safari, Mail, Photos, iWork, PDFs in iBooks and third-party apps with built-in printing at the push of a button.

Last, but most definitely least, is the detachable touchscreen Android tablet that functions as a control panel for the printer. It connects to your wireless network even when removed, and can surf the web, access email, log onto Facebook with a dedicated app and more. It’s a handy media player too. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good one. Like many older 2.1 Android-powered tablets chasing the popularity of the Apple iPad 2, it feels sluggish and cumbersome to use. It’s okay as a controller for the printer, but don’t think you’re getting a quality stand-alone tablet too like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer.

HP eStation C510: Ease of use

The HP eStation C510 is surprisingly easy to set up. A straightforward wizard helps you connect it to your wireless network, and to get ePrint up and running, you just register your printer online to set up your unique email address. After that, you can print attachments sent from any email-capable device.

HP eStation C510: Performance

Print quality is up to HP’s usual high standards, with crisp, clear text that remains readable even at very low point sizes. The fifth ink tank, a pigment black, keeps the colours bright and vivid for photo printing, though skin tones look a little yellow, and there’s a definite green hue at the darker end of our greyscale ramp. Nothing disastrous, but definitely shy of perfection. Output speeds are impressive, with a 20-page text document printing in around two minutes, 25 seconds, and a top-quality A4 photo in two minutes, 30 seconds, both under USB connectivity.

HP eStation C510: Verdict

Although the eStation C510 has some excellent features, you can’t help feeling short-changed by the Zeen tablet. If HP had been a little less ambitious and kept it as a printer control screen with applications, or invested a little more in its capabilities and produced a tablet that ran at an acceptable speed, it would be highly recommended. As it stands, it’s great if you’re interested in ePrint and AirPrint, but not for its main selling point, the detachable tablet, although if you can get it at £180, it's a good deal.

HP eStation C510 launch date: Out now, link HP
HP eStation C510 price: £190-400 online