The HP OfficeJet 3830 is a low-cost, entry-level printer with very reasonable running costs but offering impressive features, functionality and savings – especially when you sign up for HP’s Instant Ink subscription programs.
PROS: Very inexpensive. Light and compact design. Low running costs with Instant Ink subscription. Good quality photos and documents. Touch-screen interface.
CONS: Without Instant Ink subscription, running costs are exorbitant. No auto-duplexing. Lacks flash memory and Ethernet.
A close cousin to the HP OfficeJet 4650, the HP OfficeJet 3830 has all the features that makes any entry-level all-in-one (AIO), is a capable machine, but has formidable competitors. By entry level we a printer that does not support two-sided printing, Ethernet networking, among other noteworthy features. The OfficeJet 3830, however, has a few things going for it, not only is it inexpensive to buy, but also costs less to use –for as long as you opt for HP’s Instant Ink subscription program.
If you opt for that, then you have an AIO inkjet that prints well, and is a good alternative for the pricey expensive inkjets out there. If your printer needs are for low-volume printing and copying in a small or home-office or student dormitory, the OfficeJet 3830 is worth a long look.
For the small office, the OfficeJet 3830 is by all standards the most business-oriented AIO printer that doesn’t cost much. Measuring 8.5 by 17.7 by 14.3 inches (HWD) and weighing 12.4 pounds, it is almost the same size and girth as most budget business-oriented inkjets. Compared, the Canon TR8520 is fairly smaller, but weighs almost five pounds more than the OfficeJet 3830. If in your choices, you must have a small and light printer but don’t fancy a mobile printer designed for travel, the smallest AIO I know for now is the HP DeskJet 3755 AIO printer (5.6 x 15.9 x 5.1 inches and 5.1 pounds). For the petite size and portability, you’ll have to give up the automatic document feeder (ADF) and do with a little print speed.
As for paper handling, the OfficeJet 3830 features a single rear 60-sheet paper tray, with a 25 sheets paper output, a very small paper capacity when stacked against several competitors. The Canon TR8520, for instance, has capacity to handle up to 200 sheets from two input sources of 100-sheets each. On the other hand, the Brother MFC-J985DW has a 100 sheets handling capacity, while the Epson ET-4750’s single paper drawer holds a maximum of 250 sheets.
With a 35-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), which is not auto-duplexing (something I didn’t expect at this price, though), the OfficeJet 3830 gets a feature that’s rarely seen among entry-level printers. However, with a print engine that doesn’t support auto-duplexing, it means that you can’t print two-sided pages without having to manually flip them over in order to print on the other side. Not surprising though, since of all the machines mentioned here, none of these AIOs has auto-duplexing document feeders.
Additionally, the printer features a 2.2-inch monochrome touch screen, which wraps up the entire control panel. The panel is easy to use, is very responsive and, well suited for the maximum monthly duty of 1,000 pages, and a recommended 250 pages per month.
Surprising, this is the only business-oriented from HP that I have reviewed sans an Ethernet port. That’s not to say that an Ethernet port is a must have, especially for an AIO designed to support less than five users. Nowadays, almost any device you encounter ranging from laptop, desktop, smartphone or even tablets support Wi-Fi and/or Wi-Fi Direct, which is the protocol supported by the OfficeJet 3830.
The OfficeJet 3830 also features a USB port for connecting to a single PC, alongside Apple’s AirPrint and HP ePrint. It also gets a couple of HP mobile apps as well as other workflow profiles, all accessible once you connect to the AIO wirelessly. The USB connection doesn’t connect the printer to the internet, as such it does not support mobile apps.
HP bills the OfficeJet 3830 at 8.5 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome papers and 6pp for your color pages. In testing it’s possible to exceed the manufacturer values, with a 13-page Microsoft word document yielding 9.8ppm, exceeding its rating by more than 1ppm. For a budget entry-level AIO, this is quite impressive, albeit about 3ppm slower than the Canon TR8520, 5.6ppm slower than the Epson ET4750 and 5.5ppm faster than the HP Deskjet 3755.
For color prints, the OfficeJet revolves around the 6ppm rating, and a further 2.7ppm in a combination of the 13-page Word document, a couple of color-laden PDFs, Excel and PowerPoint documents. You might be wondering why the value is lower than the 6ppm rating, the rationale behind it is that the prints are a mix of color business documents that are more complex and contain a much higher ink coverage percentage that the copies used by manufacturers.
Print speeds are average for colored 4-by-6-inch snapshots, whereby the OfficeJet manages an average of 51 seconds, which is fairly slower that the other AIOs used for comparison here, but fine for a small office operation. Even with the low purchase price, the print and copy quality are pleasant, and so is the printer’s photo output quality.
HP Instant Ink
However, with the excellent output there’s a caveat. If you happen to run lots of complex prints on the OfficeJet 3830 without a subscription to HP’s Instant Ink delivery program, it might prove to be a very-expensive-to-use AIO in the long run. It averages 9 cents for monochrome pages and 21 cents for color pages, and this is when you have purchased the more expensive XL-size cartridges.
When you use Instant Ink, the printer monitors its own ink usage and makes orders for replacement cartridges as needs, allowing you to print up to 300 pages or photos each month for as low as 3.5 cents per page. Where this printer becomes a real-bargain is when printing photos, as a large as 8-by-10 inches at about 3.5 cents per photo, value that even competing AIOs cannot beat.
The Bottom Line
There are obviously many contenders here when it comes to entry-level AIOs. The trick is to find one with the right feature mix for the right price. If print quality is your primary requirement most of the AIOs I have mentioned in this review will serve you well, but the HP OfficeJet 3830 churns out exquisite photos and documents. As designed, it has capacity to print up to 250 pages per month and the HP Instant Ink service makes it a robust, low-volume AIO printer. All these add up to the OfficeJet 3830’s profile as a sensible choice for small and home-based offices as well as for student residencies with minimal print and copy needs.