First impressions of HP Photosmart C5280

By | August 23, 2007

A few days ago, I described the experience I had trying to buy an HP Photosmart C5280 All-in-One (printer, copier, scanner) and Photo Value Pack under a promotion being offered by HP. The printer arrived today, and I set it up. My first impressions of the printer itself are quite good — it’s a really nicely engineered piece of equipment, which is what I’ve come to expect from HP printers (but not HP Compaq laptops; avoid them like the plague!). On the other hand, HP dropped the ball big-time on the Mac OS X support, and that’s really a shame.

The printer was extremely easy to unpack and set up. The set-up instructions included with it were clear and concise, and it came with sample photo paper so we could print some photos right away. In no time at all, I’d printed some beautiful prints directly from an SD card, and the printer was connected to the Mac with the software installed.

The next step was to try printing from the Mac instead of directly on the printer, and this is where things got dicey. When I tried to print from iPhoto, the Photosmart wasn’t listed as an available printer. When I tried to add it using the Mac OS Printer Setup Utility, the correct driver for the printer wasn’t listed.

I tried running the HP Software Updater to see if there was a driver update that would fix the problem. It said there were no updates.

I tried searching the HP support Web site with relevant keywords (“Mac OS driver”, “Printer Setup Utility”), and found only a single article telling me to go through a convoluted process to reset the Printer Setup Utility’s cache. Said process wiped out the settings for all the other printers, and still didn’t fix the missing driver problem.

I tried HP’s on-line support chat service, and the support technician to whom I was connected told me, in rather broken English, that the chat technicians are only trained in Windows and I would have to call during business hours or send email and wait for a response to get Mac support.

Finally, I did a Google search and quickly located a thread in which other people described my problem exactly. One of them pointed out that there was an updated version of the printer software on the HP Web site which would solve the problem, and provided a link to it. I downloaded that software, uninstalled the old software and installed the new, and presto, everything started working properly.

In summary, HP had many opportunities to make this printer work properly with my Mac, all of which they messed up:

  1. They could have shipped working software with the printer.
  2. The “check for updates” tool they ship with their software could have told me that a newer version was available, i.e., performed its core function properly. So what the heck is it there for?
  3. They could have had a useful article on their support site about the problem.
  4. They could have had chat technicians on duty who know how to support the Mac.

Dealing with this was only a minor hassle for me. It would have been a much bigger hassle for my wife, who’s the one who actually uses the Mac and who is far more typical of Mac users than I am. If HP thinks that they can pull stunts like this and still succeed in the Mac market, they should really think again.

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18 thoughts on “First impressions of HP Photosmart C5280

  1. Manolo

    I have the same problem than you paola, dont have find any answer…

    Reply
  2. paola

    Unable to scan documents on my HP Photosmart C5280 All-in-one. Was working fine and just stopped scanning and stopped giving me the option to save to file. Now the only options I get are – Scan & Reprint and Scan to Memory Card. I need to scan and e-mail a document. Please Help.

    Reply
  3. jik Post author

    Mac’s market share grew to almost 10% in 2008 and continues to grow. No, it’s not as large a market as Windows, but it’s still a huge revenue opportunity.

    In any case, your theory that they’re intentionally trying to exclude Mac users is absurd, because if that were true, they wouldn’t bother to invest the effort into designing, implementing and releasing Mac drivers for the printer — they would simply declare the printer unsupported on the Mac, which many vendors have done with many kinds of hardware and software in the past.

    Reply
  4. joe

    I think that’s the point, they don’t expect to succeed in the mac market, they don’t care about mac users. You’re expecting the same service to macs as pc’s? Macs are a much smaller slice of the pie and their business model is to exclude people from using their platform/hardware. I’m finding it hard to find a reason anybody SHOULD support macs.

    Reply
  5. Plinio

    Hi guys,
    I’m trying to install the C 5280 in MAC OS 10.5.5 and the HP software doesn’t recognize the printer.
    I’ve tried to install directly from System and with the HP software.
    Does anybody have any idea how solve this problem?

    Tks antecipated from Brazil…

    Reply
  6. Henry

    Thanks jik for leaving that comment about vista. After googling “HP vista c5280 driver” this was the only site I found helping me out.

    Reply
  7. Mark

    Thanks to the pointers to the updated HP drivers. It fixed one of my problems with my MAC (unable to scan) but I still can’t print from iPhoto to the photo paper tray. Any pointers on how to do that? I can drag the picture into the Photosmart software and print to the photo paper tray but that is so kludgey! I also failed to print on a CD but haven’t tried that yet with the new driver.

    Anyone solved this yet?

    Reply
  8. trfall

    Hey did you ever find that driver 2.0?? Same situation here with Airport.

    Reply
  9. Steve

    I have installed an older version of the driver (2.0) on my MacBook Pro and it works fine through USB and Airport. The new driver (2.3) on my wife’s PowerBook G4 works with direct USB but fails on Airport connect. Weird but true and I can’t seem to figure out why and I can’t find the old driver to download and try on my wife’s machine… Help!

    Reply
  10. jik Post author

    I’m not sure what the previous comment has to do with my problems getting this printer to work on a Mac, but I’ve approved it on the off chance that somebody having the same problem as the author of that comment might stumble across my blog and find the comment helpful.

    Reply
  11. Don Peters

    I have been having same problem as everybody else. I finally found some help. This problem is with Vista and not HP or other printers. Vista has problems reading driver install files. This will be corrected in a SRp-1 hotfix next spring. You can go to this site; http://support.microsoft.com/kb/937187 and request the hotfix now.

    I did this, Microsoft sent me the hotfix, I installed, then I intalled the HP C5280 software. Perfect. I saw parts of the install program I had not seen before. Everything works.

    Anyone havig printer problems installing Vista drivers should check this site out.

    Reply
  12. jik Post author

    Yes, it does seem rather slower than advertised, but I wasn’t naive enough to believe the speed estimates when I bought it ;-).

    Reply
  13. Michael A. Burstein

    We haven’t set up our unit yet, and we’re going to need that driver software. Would you be willing to email me the link you found so I don’t have to go searching for it?

    Reply
  14. jik Post author

    I just sent a copy of this blog posting, slightly edited, to the CEO of HP through their Web site. We’ll see if anything comes of it.

    Reply

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