HP Of­ficeJet 3830

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS - Cliff Joseph

At first glance, HP’s new Of­ficeJet 3830 looks like an ab­so­lute bar­gain of a printer. Cost­ing £60, this com­pact mul­ti­func­tion de­vice of­fers home users and small busi­nesses a re­ally af­ford­able printer, scan­ner, copier and fax ma­chine. It also in­cludes a 35-page doc­u­ment feeder, built-in Wi-Fi, and even sup­port for Ap­ple’s AirPrint so that you print from your iPad and iPhone.

The 60-sheet in­put tray and 25-sheet out­put tray are small, but should be ad­e­quate for a home of­fice. There’s no eth­er­net for wired net­works, but that’s only a mi­nor omis­sion, and the only po­ten­tial deal-breaker is the re­liance on man­ual du­plex (two-sided) print­ing, which re­quires you to turn the pages over and rein­sert them into the pa­per tray in or­der to print on both sides.

For those want­ing to print from their phone, just down­load the HP All-in-One Printer Re­mote App (avail­able for An­droid, iOS, Win­dows) or the HP ePrint app (also avail­able for Ama­zon de­vices), and you can check the printer’s sta­tus as well as scan and print re­motely and wire­lessly.

Per­for­mance is pretty good, too. HP doesn’t quote speeds, but we got 11 pages per minute when print­ing text doc­u­ments, which is pretty good go­ing for a printer in this price range. Colour print­ing was slower, at just 4ppm for mixed text and graph­ics, while a 4x6in photo print took a full 60 sec­onds, but that’s still fine for oc­ca­sional colour work.

Text qual­ity was good, but didn’t have the crisp, smooth out­lines pro­vided by the best inkjet print­ers. HP only spec­i­fies a print res­o­lu­tion of “up to 1200x1200dpi ren­dered,” which ba­si­cally means that it’s a low-res printer that uses some clever al­go­rithms to try and en­hance print qual­ity. We’d say that the Of­ficeJet 3830 will be fine for print­ing rou­tine letters and re­ports, but if you re­quire top qual­ity text out­put then it might be worth pay­ing a lit­tle ex­tra for an inkjet or laser printer that pro­vides higher na­tive res­o­lu­tion.

We couldn’t fault the colour and photo out­put, though, which was ex­cel­lent for a printer that only uses three coloured inks (cyan, ma­genta and yel­low). But it’s those ink car­tridges that give the Of­ficeJet a sting in the tail. We took one look at the two tiny ink car­tridges – one for black and a tri-colour car­tridge con­tain­ing the three colour inks – and im­me­di­ately started to worry about the run­ning costs.

The good news is that colour print­ing isn’t too bad at all. Shop around online and you can buy a two-pack con­tain­ing both stan­dard­size car­tridges for £22.98, while a two-pack with the high-yield XL car­tridges cost £39.98. The stan­dard-size colour car­tridge will last for about 165 pages, which works out at a quite rea­son­able 7p per page, while the XL car­tridges pro­vides 330 pages and brings that down to a com­pet­i­tive 6p per page.

Un­for­tu­nately, the black ink car­tridges don’t pro­vide such good value for money. The stan­dard black ink car­tridge lasts only for a mod­est 190 pages, which comes to a whop­ping 6p per page. The XL car­tridge in­creases the yield to 480 pages, but that still works out at just over 4p per page, which is well above av­er­age for an inkjet printer.

There is another op­tion, though. The Of­ficeJet 3830 is on HP’s In­stant Ink scheme, which charges a flat monthly fee for a fixed num­ber of pages. There are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent op­tions avail­able for In­stant Ink – start­ing at only £1.99 per month – but they still tend to favour colour print­ing, and leave mono print­ing look­ing rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive.

That shouldn’t be an is­sue for most peo­ple, and the flip side is that it’s no more ex­pen­sive to print a photo than a sin­gle page of black text. You can en­rol in the scheme when you buy the printer, but you don’t start pay­ing un­til you re­ceive your first In­stant Ink car­tridge. There’s no con­tract, ei­ther, so you’re not tied into any kind of sub­scrip­tion – you can stop pay­ing when­ever you like.

Car­tridges are iden­ti­cal to those you’d buy off the shelf - not a low­erqual­ity ver­sion. You’ll also get a pre­paid en­ve­lope to re­turn your empty car­tridges. For many peo­ple this fixed cost is a nice way to bud­get for your print­ing: you can print 600 ‘pages’ per year for £24.

Ver­dict

The ini­tial pur­chase price of the Of­ficeJet 3830 is ob­vi­ously very at­trac­tive, and will ap­peal to many home users and smaller of­fices. Its run­ning costs are also good when print­ing in colour, so it will be a good op­tion for print­ing photos, or re­ports and pre­sen­ta­tions that con­tain colour graph­ics. How­ever, sim­ple mono print­ing is more ex­pen­sive, and the Of­ficeJet 3830 could prove ex­pen­sive to run if you print a lot of sim­ple text doc­u­ments. If you don’t need to print all that much, though, this is a great-value all-in-one printer

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