Its September, back to school is right around the corner, lot of last minute activities are taking place to get ready for the new school year. Teachers in particular have a lot do both on the back end and in the class room. When I talk about the backend, it could mean, familiarizing with the new curriculum, creating lesson plans or other educational activities teachers have to do this time of the year. My brother has been a teacher of the Industrial Arts since 1997. Back then, everything was done by hand with a notebook and pen as tools of the trade. In the early 2000’s he started moving to a digital workflow, which included preparing notes in Microsoft Word and printing them out for his students. It was such a dramatic improvement compared to what he had to do before. Back then he probably had to go to a lab PC late in the night, prepare the notes, get one print off and then get photo copies done for the next day. This was likely done occasionally.
With time and the commoditization of computing, teachers are able to get better access to technology. My brother now has his own computer assigned to him in the staff room, he has personally moved from our family’s old ALR which ran Windows 98 and an Lexmark Z11 hand me down which died after years of intense use. He now uses a Dell Inspiron 15xx series notebook and just last week he decided it was time to once again retire his most recent printer, an HP 3000 series desktop printer with something more powerful and multi-task oriented. That is, the HP Deskjet F2480.
I am going to admit, I do not do a lot of printing these days, but there are the occasional moments such as printing a picture or my curriculum vitae. The HP Deskjet F2480 provides a wide range of functions to make any Home Office user happy. You can print, copy and scan in a sleek all in one design that’s not too big or small. The gorgeous black finish is subtle yet attractive and looks really attractive on my desk next to my laptop. Some of the immediate benefits I notice with the printer is its convenience, you don’t even need to turn your computer on to use it! Before I go on, lets talk a little bit more about setup.
System Requirements and setup:
|Windows Vista||Windows XP|
|800 MHz 32-bit (x86) or 64 bit (x64) processor||Intel Pentium II, Celeron or 233 MHz compatible processor|
|512 MBs of RAM||128 MBs of RAM|
|920 MBs of hard disk space||650 MBs of hard disk space|
|Microsoft Internet Explorer||Microsoft Internet Explorer 6|
|CD-ROM/DVD or Internet||CD-ROM/DVD or Internet|
The product box notes that for Windows 7, some features may not be available, for more information, go to http://www.hp.com/go/windows7 The installation DVD includes version 13.0.1 F2400 series drivers which notes Windows 7 support.
Installation is a 10 step process, from taking it out of the box to installing the driver software. For this part, I will deal with installation in Windows. Overall, hardware setup is very quick and easy, take it out of the box, open the ink compartment, remove the protective cardboard over the printer sensor, plug in the printers power adapter, turn it on, then let it adjust itself. After you have configured the hardware, make sure you insert a blank paper into the paper tray feeder, the next step is to install the included ink cartridges, remove the protective clear tapes, open the cartridge door, push cartridges into carriage until they snap. Close the cartridge door, wait 30 mins for alignment page to automatically print.
Once printed, open the scanner lid, place alignment page face down. Close lid. Press Start Copy Black button. The alignment process will ensure the best quality. What’s interesting, a lot of this is done independent of Windows. It was really a breeze. Now, finally, on to using it with Windows 7.
Those buttons are so retro.
Before connecting the printer to your computer, you must install the device driver first. You will need a USB cable (purchase separately) no wireless printing support. The printer setup screen is very simple, with a welcoming layout, although I must say those buttons on the screen are quite ancient and look like something out of Windows 2.03, I notice on the setup pamphlet, the Mac OS X setup is more elegant.
After clicking Install, I encountered a User Account Dialog, which I haven’t seen in ages since upgrading to Windows 7. Next was a prompt informing me I was installing on Windows 7, although there was no indication about why I got this prompt except for a link to more information about HP F2480 and Windows 7. Next up was an alert screen informing about alert dialogs during installation and I should ensure I approve them. Setup also recommended I disable my firewall and Antivirus. A bit drastic I must say and I decided not to do that, not out of fear, but I think its just pointless.
Sorry, but no.
I have to say, I started getting a bit annoyed with the amount of screens that required an action from me, this so far was proving to be the most obnoxious installation experience I have encountered in a long while. Although this screen had to do with the End User License Agreement, getting to the business of installation was becoming more like a hurdle.
I hope this is the final one!
Installation in progress.
Cobranded Windows Live Photo Gallery software included
I notice during installation, the HP software advertises Windows Live Photo Gallery for managing photo and print projects, although HP includes its own programs for such projects too. I notice when I installed the printer on a Windows Vista system, the software automatically placed a shortcut to Photo Gallery on the desktop. Installation took quite sometime, approximately close to an hour, I realized something was definitely wrong. Why is it taking so long? Look for yourself:
Yes, the problem was Adobe Flash hidden behind the installation window. There wasn’t even a icon on the Taskbar to indicate a program had halted the installation. Why do I need to even install Flash to install a printer? HP, ridiculous, ridiculous! Anyway, the installation proceeded with approximately 8 more task to complete. I have to say, in all my years of installing HP printers, this is probably a very disappointing experience. It lacks intuitiveness and simplicity. The time it takes is too much, just for 3 common task: printing, copying and scanning. I stop tracking how long it took to install after this.
The next phase was connecting the printer. You have the option of skipping this step, but I recommend you do it from now just to move things ahead.
Connecting the printer to my Windows 7 PC for the first time.
Windows Vista/Windows 7 integration – Photo Print Gadget
Even after this process, there was still more installation to complete, again, another example of how unintuitive the installation experience is. During this last, I notice that the installation added a Gadget to my Gadgets gallery. Called the HP Photo Print Gadget, it’s a handy little program for quickly dragging and dropping your photos for printing. You can easily specify print size and paper size on the fly.
Another dialog fooled me into thinking the installation was still in progress. A window advertising Windows Live Photo Gallery integration, it was not until I closed the dialog, the software installation wizard said I click finish. After 10 wizards, I finally had it installed, but not without another screen prompting me to register. I notice the registration screen is modal and I could not switch between programs until I closed the registration screen, weird.
Post Setup Task
After exiting the HP 2400 Series installation software, the HP Solution Center software launched automatically. Solution Center is a control panel like utility for all HP related devices, you can monitor ink levels, device status, order supplies and get help in a centralized location.
Working with Windows Live Photo Gallery
I noted earlier that the HP 2400 installation software provides a cobranded copy of Windows Live Photo Gallery. Since I recently upgraded to the latest Windows Live Photo Gallery Wave 4 beta, I was interested to see how it worked out with the printer.
Windows Live Photo Gallery wave 4 is the latest version of Microsoft’s easy to use digital photo management, editing and what I call, social solution. This new version features innovative features for geolocation, facial recognition, ability to publish to popular photo sharing services such as Flickr and social networks such as Windows Live, Facebook and even your Skydrive and Windows Live Messenger feed. Photo Gallery 4 also features the Scenic Ribbon which makes it easier to find functionality once buried under menus. Organization is a welcome feature and I prefer way more over the previous version in the menu structure. Accessing the print options is more logical and quicker, just click File menu and click print. My first task was try out scanning features of the printer.
Photo Gallery makes scanning a Photo very easy, just place the photo on the Flatbed scanner, in Photo Gallery click the ‘Import’ icon located under the ‘Home’ tab. Next the ‘Import Photos and Videos’ window will appear, display the source device from which you will obtain the media you want to import into Windows Photo Gallery. As you can see, Photo Gallery displays the HP Deskjet F2400 Deskjet, if you had your digital camera connected, it will also be shown. You can also import from other mediums such as DVD and CD’s.
Next, we click import. The New Scan window will appear on screen. Here you will see a number of options, such as the name of your Scanner which you can quickly change if you have another one connected, the type of content your scanning (Profile), Source. You can also choose the Color format, file type you want to import in and resolution which is the level of quality you want to import it at. The higher the DPI (or Dots Per Inch), the better the quality of the photo. Other tools we can see in the above screenshot such as Brightness and Contrast allow you to import with just right quality you want. But before we go any further, lets start working those tools at the bottom of the screen, Preview and Scan.
Preview allows you to get and sample of what the photo will look like when you scan and before you import it. You can see a preview of the Photo in the above screenshot. Now, I can go ahead and scan as is, but, why not make a few adjustments. You will notice there is a lot of white space, so what I will do is reduce the size of it. The four anchors shown in the window indicate that you can crop the photo to just the right size.
Now, I have my photo cropped to accurate dimensions, I can proceed with scanning and have it imported into Photo Gallery. Scanning takes only a few seconds, but the higher the quality it might take a bit more time than a few seconds. Once scanning complete, the Import Photos and Video displays a dialog with options to add Tags to the photo. This allows you use key words to quickly find and sort your photos in Photo Gallery. You can also quickly change options to where you would like the Scanned Photo to be stored.
Scanning and Tagging
After clicking Import, the photo will show up in your Windows Picture Library. You can double click to open in Photo Gallery and do other common task such as rotating, adjusting appearance or add effects. As you can see, my photo which was taken in Land Scape with a Film camera, needs to be rotated. Also, there are some white spaces at the edges. Lets fix those:
A few more adjustments to be made.
At the bottom of the Photo Gallery preview window status bar, you will see some quick tools for making on the Fly adjustments. One of them is the Rotate options. My Photo above will be rotated counter clockwise to quickly adjust it in its appropriate orientation.
Now that my photo is in the right orientation (land scape), I just need to remove that piece white border at the edge. To do that, click the ‘Edit, organize, or share’ button the Photo Gallery toolbar. This will take you to the Edit Tab in Photo Gallery. To Crop a Photo double click it then click the Crop button under the Adjustments group. You will notice a geometric frame appears on screen. Use the adjustment anchors to drag and adjust them outward until you achieve a satisfactory result or the white edges in my case are no longer apparent.
Once this is done, click the pop out menu below the crop button on the adjustments group and click ‘Apply Crop’.
Applying Crop Action
After applying Crop.
This is not a Photo Gallery review, but I just wanted to show you some of the tight, easy integration between the HP F2400 and Windows Live programs. I was curious to find out if there was any Device Stage support. Sure enough, there is, but the features offered are limited. If you don’t know about device stage, its really a way for manufacturers to offer unique content about their devices providing seamless integration with Windows 7.
Using the HP F2480
I have been using the HP F2480 just for a short time, but I am entirely impressed by its capabilities, documents print very fast and output for photos is high quality. Images scanned then printed are crisp and rich in color. You can make further adjustments in Photo Gallery to control contrast, brightness and other editing task and don’t forget you can scan at a higher DPI for the best quality. I like that HP has focused on integrating with Photo Gallery and extending its capabilities with tools to further enhance documents and photos. The HP Solutions Center is a great part of using the printer, you can quickly check ink levels, tinker with settings for both the scanner and printer. HP even makes it easy to order products for your printer such as ink cartridges.
I have always been skeptical about All In One Print devices, but after using the HP F2480 I personally am looking into getting one of these. My HP Deskjet 840c has done its time. The scanner is one of the most attractive features of it, I have a lot of pictures that I want to preserve and this is a great solution for archiving digitally. Are there any low points? Yes, the software installation experience needs to be simpler, more cohesive, informative and take less time. Once you are over the installation/setup hurdle though, there is a great experience ahead.