HP OfficeJet 3830
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.
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