Why won’t my HP C5280 All-In-One print decent photos?

By | April 7, 2008

In August 2007, I bought an HP PhotoSmart C5280 that wouldn’t work with my Mac, because HP shipped buggy software and didn’t bother to actually tell anyone, and I had to jump through ridiculous hoops to find and install the fixed software.

When I started trying to print photos, which was the primary use for which I purchased this printer, the photo quality was abysmal. My attempts to get HP to do something about it met with a great deal of difficulty.

Since my last blog posting on this, I have dealt with two HP escalation engineers. I have on numerous occasions been promised call-backs which never came. HP has sent me two replacement printers, for a total of three printers I’ve tried, and numerous color and photo ink cartridges, for a total of seven cartridges I’ve tried. I have wasted around seven hours of my time, countless sheets of paper, countless 4×6 photo sheets, and countless ink on alignment pages, test pages and prints.

None of this has helped. Every single alignment page I’ve printed has shown gaps in some of the patterns. Every single self-test page I’ve printed has shown missing lines in the test grids. Every single photo I’ve printed has shown uniformly spaced lines across the entire photo.

To confirm that it’s the printer, not the photo, which is at fault, I’ve made a print from an SD card with the C5280, and then taken exactly the same SD card over to CVS and made the same size print of the same exact image. The print from CVS looks great; and the prints from the C5280 are garbage. Anyone who knows anything about inkjet printers can tell immediately from looking at the prints that some of the jets are not working properly. And let me repeat — this has happened with three different printers and seven different ink cartridges.

Lest you think I’m making this up, here’s a scan (100 DPI, blown up a bit so you can see it better) of a small section of the best print I’ve been able to generate from the various printers and ink cartridges I’ve tried.

Here’s the same section of the photo at 400 DPI, so you can better see the lines (I included the 100 DPI scan first to show how obvious they are — if you can see them in a 100 DPI scan, then they are surely easily visible to the naked eye):

The vertical lines you see are clearly visible in the actual physical prints — they are not scanner artifacts. As I mentioned above, this is the best of all the test prints — the lines are even more obvious and annoying in all the others.

The HP engineers with whom I’ve spoken have told me repeatedly that the problem I’m experiencing is highly atypical and they can’t explain why I’m having it. I find that somewhat hard to believe, given that the problem has persisted through three printers and seven ink cartridges.

Furthermore, if the same customer called over and over again about a problem which they’d never seen before, do you really think they’d send that customer five replacement ink cartridges and two replacement printers without so much as asking for a credit card number to ensure that all the printers but one would be returned?

Also, at no time during this ordeal has any HP employee asked to see sample output from the printer that shows the problem I’m trying to solve. It hardly seems likely that they would be willing to send all these replacements without any proof of an actual problem. Rather, it seems likely that the problem I’m experiencing is far more common than they’ve admitted.

Before HP sent me the third printer, I asked them to stop wasting my time, and instead send an HP service technician to my house to solve the problem. They refused. Tomorrow, I’m going to call HP again. This time, I’m going to demand one of the following:

  1. Send an HP service technician to my house. If the technician cannot solve the problem, take back the three printers, all the photo cartridges, and all the photo paper I’ve purchased, all of it directly from HP, and give me a full refund for all of it.
  2. Send FedEx at HP’s expense to pick up the printers, cartridges and photo paper and give me a full refund.

We’ll see what happens.

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2 thoughts on “Why won’t my HP C5280 All-In-One print decent photos?

  1. jennijames

    I cannot tell you the problems or time I have spent trying figure out why my C5280 printer will not scan to my computer or print pictures from my Kodak Gallery. I have to scan to a memory card then load with a sandis or for pic’s use the “save as” then print them. The quaility isn’t as good. I also bought it primarily for printing pictures and I am so disappointed in this product. I gave up trying to get help from customer service or using their suggestions in their written support. I don’t know how companies can put out such poor products and stay in business. I never had these problems with my Dell All in One! I have learned my lesson, but cannot justify buying a new printer yet. Good Luck trying to get a replacement!

  2. abbasegal

    What are we looking at in the pictures? If you had a scan from the good CVS print (the same place, obviously), it would be easier to see what is going on…

    BTW, I recently purchased a brother all-in-one MFC-465CN. (It has both USB and network capability). The picture quality is quite good, but it oddly can have problems printing text — it seems to be worst in the “fast” modes, but it will sometimes start printing a page, get 1/3-1/2 of the way through, and then hiccup, spit out the partially printed page, and start the page over. It never happens with photos, or even text in “Fine” mode, so I almost suspect that the print head is moving too fast and somehow gets out of sync. Anyway, I admit I don’t have your stick-to-itiveness or I would have taken it back already (also any arguing I’d do would probably have to be in Hebrew), though once I figured out the “fine” mode workaround I have been less frustrated, and I do like the printouts it generates.

    I don’t know if this is an endemic problem or just my printer, or even if you were thinking of a Brother if you give up on HP, but I thought I’d let you know.


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