HP LaserJet 3380

Summary: The HP LaserJet 3380 is a good match for a very small-business operation that doesn't require colour printing.The HP LaserJet 3380 is the top-of-the-line model in HP's new series of four laser-based, cheap multifunction printers.

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HP LaserJet 3380
The HP LaserJet 3380 is a good match for a very small-business operation that doesn't require colour printing.

The HP LaserJet 3380 is the top-of-the-line model in HP's new series of four laser-based, cheap multifunction printers. The HP LaserJet 3380 combines a vendor-rated 20ppm monochrome laser engine with a 600dpi colour flatbed scanner and can perform most of the functions needed to run your home office. That includes both PC-based and standalone faxing, copying, scanning, and, of course, printing. We found the HP LaserJet 3380 to be carefully designed and well equipped, which makes it both versatile and easy to use. But while it is among the fastest multifunction laser printers we've seen, its merely adequate print quality is disappointing.

The two-tone gray, mushroom-shaped HP LaserJet 3380 printer stands 48 cm high but takes only 51 cm by 48 cm of desktop, about average, and at a mere 16 kilograms, it's easy to push aside when necessary. The components stack neatly, with the main paper tray at the base, a sunken output slot and control panel in the middle, and an automatic document feeder crowning the scanner lid on top. The left side of the printer pops open to reveal a slot to add more memory, two phone jacks for a fax line and a pass-through, and a USB and parallel port.

Installing the HP LaserJet 3380 on Windows XP was simple and fast. The drivers also run on 98, 2000, and Me and on Mac OS versions 9.1, 9.2.x, 10.2, and 10.3. Installing and replacing the toner cartridge is easy. The cartridge and drum form one unit that drops into grooves behind a door about where the 3380's belly button would be. When you open the door, a lever lets you pull the cartridge to the front, so you don't even have to reach inside. Cartridges come in two sizes: a AU$93 model that is specified to last 2,500 pages, and a 3,500-page model that sells for AU$117.

We encountered a few minor design flaws. For instance, when refilling the main paper tray, you have to remove its cover to hold it open. And while you can remove the scanner lid yourself, useful when working with bulky objects such as books, removing the document feeder above it involves detaching a power cable and the clips that hold it in place, making it almost a two-person job. Nonetheless, we like the design of the HP LaserJet 3380 overall.

The HP LaserJet 3380 provides adequate paper-handling options for a single user. The main tray holds 250 sheets and has a 10-sheet bypass feeder, while the legal-size automatic document feeder holds 50 pages. Unfortunately, there are no additional paper tray options for this printer. The HP LaserJet 3380 comes with 32MB of memory, adequate for storing 250 fax pages should the paper run out, although you can expand the RAM memory by adding either a 32MB or 64MB module.

The control panel is among the cleanest we've seen. It separates functions into six groups: a set of nine speed dials, a set of fax controls, a numeric keypad, an LCD with arrow keys for navigating the onscreen menus, a set of copy-control buttons, and a button to launch scans and send them to your PC. The copy function has a command to collate multiple copies of multiple-page documents, and unlike most standalone photocopiers these days, the HP LaserJet 3380 scans the documents only once, which saves you time.

HP's software is basic. When you select the print command within an application, you choose either the 3380's print or fax function. If you choose fax, it displays a basic phonebook and lets you attach a cover page from a short list of designs. Phone numbers you store in the phone book on the control panel automatically sync with those in your PC, and vice versa. If you're picky about spelling names, you'll like this control panel because it provides both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as punctuation. Most fax machines offer you only all capital letters. As for the scanner, the TWAIN driver interface has controls for exposure and colour but is otherwise very limited. HP bundles the 3380 with ReadIris Pro OCR software.

The HP LaserJet 3380 is the fastest monochrome multifunction laser printer CNET Labs has tested. It delivered scores of 13.5 pages per minute (ppm) of text, about 3ppm faster than the Samsung SCX-4016 Laser MFP. In CNET Labs tests for printing graphics, this gap was narrower. The HP pumped out 11.8ppm, a mere 0.8ppm faster than the Samsung.

Unfortunately, the HP LaserJet 3380 doesn't impress us with its print quality. The text printouts were a little too dark, with slightly ragged letters, a problem similar to that found on inkjet printers. This combination made the small text sizes (6 point and smaller) bleed together. In addition, the graphics printouts were too light, giving images a dotty look. Even so, the graphics documents still had good contrast and gradient.

As a multifunction printer, the HP did well with scanning and copying. It scanned 2.0 pages per minute (ppm) of colour documents and 3.1ppm of grayscale documents. That's about 15 percent and 25 percent faster than the Samsung, respectively. The HP LaserJet 3380 is a laggard at copying, clocking in at 4.8ppm, while the Samsung copied the same document at 6.0ppm.

The quality of the HP LaserJet 3380's scanned images was inconsistent and slightly out of focus on both the colour and grayscale scans. The colour scans had excellent colour matching and very good gradient, while the gradient of the grayscale scans was poor. Despite all this, the HP made decent-looking monochrome copies.

Laser multifunction performance (pages/min)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Copy speed  
Grayscale speed  
Colour scan speed  
Black graphics speed  
Black text speed  
Samsung SCX-4016 Laser MFP
6.01 
2.77 
1.66 
11.70 
11.46 
HP LaserJet 3030
5.23 
2.80 
1.90 
9.91 
10.77 
HP LaserJet 3015
4.14 
1.32 
1.32 
9.83 
12.41 
HP LaserJet 3380
4.83 
3.08 
1.98 
11.80 
13.51 

Print and scan quality performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Grayscale quality  
Colour scan quality  
Graphics quality  
Text quality  
Samsung SCX-4016 Laser MFP
2 
2 
3 
3 
HP LaserJet 3030
3 
2 
3 
3 
HP LaserJet 3015
2 
2 
2 
3 
HP LaserJet 3380
2 
3 
2 
2 

The HP LaserJet 3380 was tested with the factory settings of the software driver, which can be adjusted to address the above-mentioned problems.

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.

HP offers a Web site brimming with access to user forums, e-mail support, live chats with HP technicians, and driver and manual downloads. The HP LaserJet 3380 comes with a brief setup guide, a detailed manual on the fax features, and an extensive onscreen manual in both PDF and HTML.

HP LaserJet 3380
Company: HP
Price: AU$1,090
Distributor: Selected resellers
Phone:  1300 305 018

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware

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