Over the last few years, prices of printers have fallen dramatically and today, a basic printer is available for as little as Rs2,000. But when you want to do more than just print documents, it’s time to look at more options.
If you have a SoHo kind of set-up, chances are that at some point, you will need to add to the hardware you buy. So why spend money and precious space in setting up a printer, copier and scanner separately?
Especially when you can get something that has it all! HP’s latest All-in-One (AIO), the Deskjet F380 is ideal for homes and small offices. Unfortunately, it’s not the best for everything. This has long been the bane of the ‘All-in-one’ type of machines where the device is more the jack of all and master of none.
The F380 is a thermal inkjet printer and can print up to 20 pages per minute in the draft mode without colour. This number falls to nearly a fourth when you increase the quality two stages to ‘normal’.
In between there’s something called ‘fast normal’, but the difference in quality or time is not really discernible. In the case of black and white documents, this printer will perform above average. But when you start to push the boundaries, it doesn’t really stand up.
The printer is also supposed to be good at printing photos, but the biggest problem is the lack of ‘photo-ready’ features. Most of the good photo printers today (including some from HP) come with PictBridge readiness and the ability to read memory cards. The F380 lacks both these and as a result, photos need to be printed only from the computer.
Once you are past this hurdle, though, the quality is not the worst. There are surely better printers for photos, but remember, this is a device that is supposed to do it all! So printing photos is just one and not the main skill.
With an optical scanning resolution of 1200 dpi (dots per inch), this is not the most powerful of scanners. And the bundled software doesn’t support optical character recognition either. So it’s not good trying to scan documents you want to edit later. This is a good scanner for basic photo scanning for email or web use.
The scanner in this AIO has other uses besides scanning. Namely copying! To photocopy something, you have to place it on the flatbed and it is then copied using the printing output tray. To facilitate this, the AIO has 32MB on-board memory and to be honest, it suffices. But the cost per copy is very high and when one has options for getting a copy at 50p, this will hurt!
Watch out for
Functional as it may be in a limited set-up, the F380 is not the office workhorse. If that’s what you want, look elsewhere. This is good for the occasional print and the odd scan and copy. One thing we could not quite understand was the size of the printer cartridge this uses. It is unusually small and if the device is supposed to use the same tanks for copying and printing, the ink consumption will be high. And at Rs750 for a black cartridge, it’s not cheap either.
Installing the drivers of the F380 can be an exercise in itself. It’s slow and takes almost 20 minutes. Not what you would normally expect, but then it is installing three devices in effect. A battery of tests then follows before you are ready to print. And a word of caution: buy extra cartridges when you buy the printer. The ‘introductory’ or ‘starter’ cartridges barely last the various printing, copying and scanning tests!
The Deskjet F380 retails for about Rs5,200 (Bangalore) and is worth the investment if the use will be at home and not for printing hundreds of pages daily. Be patient, though, even when you are printing say, 22 slides for a PowerPoint it can take about eight minutes in Normal mode! Rating: 3/5