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HP Photosmart Premium Fax (C309)

I was tired of scanning documents by lifting a lid, so I wanted to get something with a document feeder. Then I figured I may as well get a “photo printer”.

First I verified this thing had XP x64 drivers, because evidently I’m the only fucking donkey shitter that wants to use every-day devices and software (thanks, stupid-ass iTunes) on this OS.

So I buy the thing. First surprise is that it’s the size of two desktop computers stacked atop one another, and still comes with an external “power brick” AC adapter. What a fucking crock. I hook it up via Ethernet, and install the “software” to my surprise, there was no software, just a driver. Now I realize that HP offers the full software only for XP 32 bit (and possibly Vista, but I don’t give a flying fuck). No worries, I figured, this fucking ass shit printer has a control panel with LCD screen and three trillion buttons.

So I stick a slim piece of paper (a check) in the feeder. Thankfully, the paper-guiding fences don’t adjust past about a large envelope’s height, so my printed check is going to go through there like a drunken bitch on his way to find a toilet to puke in. Whatever, I say, it’ll be fine. So I use the clickedy clackedys to “scan to computer” on the LCD screen. “Go to the computer and start the scan software”, says the fuck-tard ass shithole. Thanks bitch, I like going to the printer so it can tell me to go back to my fucking computer.

I stick a USB jump drive and tell it to scan to USB. That works, but it slower than shit. It’s like a fucking mouse is sitting in there fucking drawing that shit. Still, everything comes out fine, but it defaults to JPEG, which I don’t want, and because the checks I’m scanning are going in short end first, they are rotated 90 degrees in the images.

So I fire up my XP 32bit virtual machine. Of course I had the network set to NAT, so I have to change it to IF, because even though the HP software installation will find the printer on another subnet, it refuses to let you use it. Then I have to cancel the installation, which takes about 5 hours, so I can shut down the virtual machine, because if you just “save its state” with Virtual Box you can’t change any of the settings. It’s been about an hour by now. The first thing I uninstall is another “add all your pictures to my library so I can fuck you later” piece of software. Thanks for reinventing the wheel into a cracked square, HP.

If you press up, down, up, down, left, left, ok, print, copy, you get this picture in vivid color.

If you press up, down, up, down, left, left, ok, print, copy, you get this picture in vivid color.

Finally I get all the software installed. It’s nagging the shit out of me, popping windows out of nowhere. Then I finally go to use it. I stick 3 checks on the feeder, and try to scan them. The software is nice and pretty, but confusing as hell. Before fucking around with any settings, I just go to scan to PDF, and it opens up the HP scan utility, with another fucking splash screen. Then it lets me pick where to save the files, etc., and of course it has stupid defaults, like color scanning, and saving to the “My Scans” folder. Anyway, it scans the things, and it works; they’re all wavy because there’s no guides to feed them in correctly, but whatever.

I start going through the options, because I noticed that it doesn’t remember that I don’t want them saved to “My Scans”, and that I want separate files, not multiple pages in one file. There’s all this shit that implies I can “send new shortcuts to the device”, but I don’t know where the hell they are, because they are not in the scanning menu of the ass-fuck.

Finally I find a place where you can change the defaults like whether or not to save to “My Scans” or somewhere else. I change a few of them, like making picture scans save to TIFF instead of JPEG, etc. I go to close the window and it says I need to save the individual changes. Thanks assmunch. I go to save, and I can’t overwrite the “shortcuts”. I’m not going to fucking rename this shit you fucking dick willow. So I cancel it all.

I start getting annoyed with the time-sinking window fades and animations and stupid splash creens that appear, so somewhere else I find some options where scanning a document doesn’t ask any questions, it just does it. But then I can’t pick where it saves them (goes to “My Scans” again) and it fucking irks me. God damn it.

At this point a couple of scans have ended with the last check stuck in the machine, the printer saying it’s scanning, but not actually doing anything, the software saying it can’t scan because another computer has control of the thing, and me having to power it off, which takes some 10 seconds, and power it on, which takes some 20 seconds before the PC recognizes it again.

I tried scanning the checks the other way, so they wouldn’t be 90 degrees, though at some point I saw an option to “auto rotate” and “straighten” (surely neither of which work; we’ll see). Once you could tell the first one almost didn’t make it to the second drive roller because there’s a long streak in the scan (the paper wasn’t moving but the rollers were), and then it sucked two checks in at once. The second time, one got stuck deep in the rollers and I had to carefully yank it back. They are simply too short to reliably go through.

This prompted me to install WordPress and write this.

To summarize:

1. This thing didn’t solve my problem at all. Document feeder/easy scanner my ass. The software has made it a pain in the ass to do anything; forcing you to open the “HP Solution Center” instead of just the HP scanner utility, making you watch 8 fucking splash screens go by, only to have the stupid thing get stuck in a loop or eat your fucking paper for lunch.

2. I don’t think the hardware is bad, but the software is a great example of marketing ass donkeys asking for easy software and the engineers having their heads up their ass or simply refusing to do a good, integrated job out of spite. Either way, the customer gets fucked.

3. I think this is also an example of putting in too many things into one device, and ending up with everything at a mediocre level. Ethernet, USB, Wifi, Bluetooth, LCD screen, keyboard, fax, scanner, printer, document feeder, and I can’t just walk up to the damn thing, put my originals in, scan to a file, and go to work. It’s supposed to work, as far as I can see from the vague manual, but it doesn’t.

4. The two pieces of 5×7 photo paper it comes with yielded some incredible prints. One was from a 10-megapixel high-end point-and-shoot, and it came out like a high-quality lab print (though I’ve never had digital photos printed anywhere). I also printed a 180 MB TIFF scan from medium-format slide film and it came out great.

Overall, I give this a fuck-me-in-the-shit rating. Had I known the scanning was going to be such a fucking bitch, I would have spent a bit more on their new large-format photo printer (printer only) and enjoyed some presumably great 13×19 prints. For “scanning” small things I will still have to lift the fucking lid and put them in. At least other papers I can drop in the feeder—though I can’t tell right now how often it will jam or suck in too many sheets at once.


  1. Nick Johnson

    what a breath of fresh air. The software is such a disappointment. I can’t even get the fucker to print two documents in a row.

    Posted on 05-Jul-09 at 22:18 | Permalink
  2. Lisa B

    Your review saved my sanity even if it didn’t solve my jammed C309 ADF problem. It’s my fault it jammed. I used paper that was too stretchy and fragile. What GSM is the minimum? HP don’t tell you. They just very informatively say to use paper that isn’t too stretchy and fragile. You have to find out the hard way.
    The forums are full of pissed off users vowing never to buy HP again. Lots of software complaints, not just about it chatting to us too much and flooding our screens with gorgeous but way too basic diagrams, but not working at all. period.

    Everything on HPs site is by model, yet a whole bunch of models share this design of ADF- can I search across that? No.

    I ran out of color ink. It keeps telling me and I click OK. I know I know. I’m only trying to print in b&w for the time being, haven’t you noticed? So shut up already!!

    The online operator cut me off after answering my psc 2355 questions with C309 answers, and vice versa. yeah, my other HP not working either. HP don’t have a vista driver for it.

    And the 244 page manual I downloaded, full of gorgeous diagrams, has 3 mentions of Auto doc feeder.
    One is about paper jams. Yay! It says something along the lines of “If the paper jams in the ADF, remove the jammed paper.”

    Nothing about how to loosen the platen to get paper stuck at the tail end out.

    One of the forum users suggests writing to senior management. Guess I’ll have to email bec i sure as hell can’t use my c309 to do a damn thing.

    Posted on 03-Nov-09 at 12:13 | Permalink
  3. Bumcusser

    I’m glad I was able to help, if only a bit. I am surprised by how much documentation there is, and yet is says mostly nothing. For example—does having a document feeder automatically mean you can scan any paper as long as you want, since the paper moves by the scanner instead of the other way around? Fat chance in hell. Last time I tried it, I don’t think it could even do legal. It is, of course, just another stupid software limitation.

    Posted on 08-Nov-09 at 21:11 | Permalink
  4. Lisa B

    HP came and swapped my printer over with another C309. The technician spent 45 minutes trying to remove the jammed paper. Got more out than I did but not all of it. He couldn’t open the ADF mechanism either because all the screws are welded over. We had to put my empty color ink carts back in to get past the software to do a diagnostic page! The software has serious design flaws. I can’t believe it was allowed to be released. Didn’t they test it on any users at all? It’s just illogical: e.g. I installed it on a different computer and something didn’t completely install, so I kept getting an error message that could not be closed and refused to budge from the middle of my screen. Had to end process every time I used the PC. Decided to remove and reinstall the sw. Well, that’s really slow and it restarts the computer whether you want it to or not, but not after a few flash screens jammed in your face to tell you what it is doing and ask are you sure etc etc. Yeah I’m sure I wanted to remove the software because it didn’t properly install. Why don’t they program their own software to detect when it’s not complete? There are 5 of their sw things that I want to take off but right then I had not time for 4 more restarts.
    Then I got surveryed by HP on the service call, so I gave good feedback on that, (esp since the technician showed me where on the site to get the Vista driver for my other HP), and I gave HP a long list of my specific complaints about their nagging dolled up productivity killing software, the uninformative manual, the chat assistant who needs further training (I think I just got unlucky with her), ….. and begged them to go read their own user forums and COME TO THIS SITE – and pay attention to how frustrated people are.
    Meanwhile, I’ll keep revisiting here to laugh at your C309 vents and help me cope – instead of weeping from frustration alone in my office!! Hope someone big in the HP marketing department visits and gets worried enough to force a rewrite of that stupid stupid stupid software.

    Posted on 20-Nov-09 at 22:55 | Permalink
  5. Bumcusser

    It’s good to know you have enough attention from them to get a technician out—no doubt with much of your time spent on the phone and waiting for email replies.

    I hope I can continue to entertain you with my experiences. Unfortunately I don’t use the printer much.

    Recently I took apart the printer this one replaced—an HP PSC1200. Now I’m regretting it. At least that printer did exactly what it claimed to do, and software intervention was minimal.

    Posted on 21-Nov-09 at 21:10 | Permalink
  6. Lisa B

    Good point about the paper length.

    The technician told me not to use recycled paper in the ADF. However, I think with today’s focus on enviro-protection, that’s exactly what many users would hope they can do. They say nothing in the manual or sales lit about what the limitations are. The other thing I was disappointed by was it’s claim to print x pages per min. Well, it probably does but has to think about the print job for an age before starting. I count the time from hitting print – to getting the page in my hand. Any other measurement is pretty meaningless to me, and surely many other users.

    I’ve scanned successfully to usb with the replacement but haven’t printed anything yet because haven’t got it speaking to the pc yet.

    At least their live service was good. Everything happens fast here in Seoul. The hard part was making the call in Korean! I have enough now to kind of get around the site, but not enough to email them. Anyway, I worked up the courage. No call waiting or punching around menus, you get straight through to a living person. The operator insisted that I tell him what the printer’s little screen was saying (‘no ink’). Then he told me to put new ink carts in. Duh! I didn’t have enough vocab to say much other than ADF ate the paper and I need engineer visit. I think he didn’t understand me and I got mad (very very bad in this culture even though “customer is king”) and yelled. He was then immediately sympathetic and booked the serviceman. I felt horrible about how I treated him so apologized. Full marks to the actual HP people here. They are polite, prompt, helpful, and able to handle overwrought foreigners with scrappy survival Korean. They even sent a free set of ink carts with the replacement printer. Maybe I’ll write the CEO of HP Korea to praise and thank the service guys and ask if the HP US have any plans to get the C309 software upgraded to something acceptable. If I do, I’ll let you know. 🙂

    Posted on 21-Nov-09 at 23:56 | Permalink
  7. Lisa B

    Here’s a thought: If the printer doesn’t do what it was advertised to, or what a reasonable consumer would expect given the product category etc etc, in this case because the software is such crap, isn’t that grounds for sending it back, getting a full refund and being compensated for damages (lost hours, emotional distress!).

    Posted on 22-Nov-09 at 00:04 | Permalink
  8. lolidiots

    lol you’re all fucking retarded assholes. i hope you wake up tomorrow morning on fire. lol, idiots.

    Posted on 09-Feb-10 at 14:40 | Permalink
  9. bob

    C309 – mine works the crappy way hp wants it to. Worst of the bad 1] try printing only with black. buried in the software it continues to drain colors to make black…this is after a long telephone support conference to try to set it to REALLY ONLY USE BLACK CARTRIDGE. 2] Scans are HUGE. I reduced DPI and still get 100k per 1 page. That is ridiculous. A 10 page pdf scan should not be 1 meg or there should be a giant sticker on the printer box not to buy it if you really want to scan multiple pages. 3] there is no LARGE black ink cartridge. the printer burns through ink from the tiny cartridges like it drains from a hose. 4] I dont mind HP making its money by charging $40 for 2 small black ink cartridges, but for convenience they should be sized large enough not to require many trips to the store. 5] color printing costs are so high I would be a real fool to use this printer for much color. 6] the printer sounds clanks and bangs to get going.
    good things: its quality printing for an inkjet is good and the doc feeder works

    Posted on 21-Feb-10 at 13:48 | Permalink
  10. Old Salt

    My sentiments exactly
    Truly enjoyed your story

    Posted on 18-Apr-10 at 07:14 | Permalink

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