The HP LaserJet 3030 is convenient to set up and operate. It measures a modest 19 inches wide by 14 deep and stands only 14 inches high, making it a tad smaller than the HP LaserJet 3380. That's because the LaserJet 3030's scanner glass and document feeder are letter-size and its paper tray holds considerably less paper--only 150 sheets, with no option to add a second tray. Busy small offices will find the constant need to feed it more paper quite frustrating.
The whole top half of the system opens on hinges to expose a slot for the 2,000-page drum/toner combination that costs $70 (or an expensive 3.5 cents per page; 2 cents per page is normal for laser printers). Be aware that the HP LaserJet 3030's scanner lid does not come off completely, which unfortunately prevents you from scanning large, bulky documents, such as newspapers and books.
To share the LaserJet 3030 on a network, HP sells a range of Ethernet and wireless adapters, costing from $129 to $336, which is about average price for network add-ons. HP also ships the printer with 32MB of memory, the maximum it can hold, which will be sufficient for most uses, but busy small businesses will want even more memory.
Installing the HP LaserJet 3030 software is almost automatic. Simply connect a parallel or USB cable to your Windows XP PC, power it on, cancel the Windows Add Printer Wizard, and insert the driver-installer CD. The rest is quick and automatic. The LaserJet 3030 also supports Windows 98, 2000, and Me, as well as Mac OS versions 9.1, 9.2.x, 10.2, and 10.3. After the system is ready, you can install the bundled OCR software, ReadIris Pro, which converts scanned pages into text for editing.
For a pint-size price, the HP LaserJet 3030 provides many full-size features. For example, the control panel is divided into several distinct button groups. There's a set of speed-dial buttons; a set of controls for setting up and sending faxes; a numeric keypad for entering fax numbers, copy quantity, and other numbers; buttons to run the copying function; and a button to send scans to your PC. A two-line LCD in the center of the control panel displays clear, hierarchical menus, navigable via nearby arrow keys.
Unfortunately, the copy group lacks a collate button. That's because the HP LaserJet 3030 automatically collates multiple copies of multiple-page documents and provides a menu command to suppress collation if necessary. That adds some inconvenience if you ever want more than one copy of individual documents.
You can fax from either the computer desktop or, when the computer is turned off, from the printer itself. The HP LaserJet 3030 also does a good job of synchronizing fax features between the device and your PC. For example, you can add names and numbers to the fax phone book at the control panel or within HP's simple fax software, and the entries will be updated in both directions. You can also set up broadcast faxes and fax-forwarding using either interface.
Unfortunately, the fax component doesn't support remote retrieval, that is, routing incoming faxes to a different number. Instead, you have to change the forwarding number locally before you leave town--a hassle for solo business travelers.
The HP LaserJet 3030 performed slower than expected in our CNET Labs tests. It printed text at a sluggish 10.7 pages per minute (ppm), very slow for a laser printer these days. With graphics, the LaserJet 3030 printed almost the same, averaging 9.9ppm. Overall, the HP LaserJet 3030 performed about 10 percent slower than the Samsung SCX-4016.
On the other hand, the HP LaserJet 3030 offered consistently good print quality. Though not perfect, its monochrome print output was the best among the recent batch of laser multifunction printers we tested. The text and graphics prints looked sharp and clean at a cursory glance. Under a loop, we found the text a little hairy but insignificantly so. Graphics had great contrast and even shading with a decent level of detail in our test photo and line drawings. Upon closer scrutiny, we saw some banding on the graphical elements but not enough to cause trouble.
|Copy speed||Grayscale speed||Color scan speed||Black graphics speed||Black text speed|
Scanning and copying performance
The HP LaserJet 3030 performed much better in our CNET Labs scanning tests. It captured up to 1.9ppm on color documents and 2.8ppm on grayscale documents. Both scores were slightly higher than those of the Samsung. The HP LaserJet 3030, however, did not keep up the momentum for copying. At 5.2ppm, it was about 0.7ppm behind the Samsung.
The HP LaserJet 3030's scan quality was mixed. While the grayscale scans displayed good contrast and gradient, the color scans had bad gradient and a dull look overall. Both color and grayscale scans were out of focus, so the images were blurry. We did not evaluate the quality of the photocopies produced.
|Grayscale quality||Color scan quality||Graphics quality||Text quality|
Learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
HP offers a corporate-style warranty and technical support for its consumer-targeted printers. For the LaserJet 3030, HP offers an industry-standard one-year warranty, plus free, 24/7, toll-free phone support for the life of the warranty. HP also sells numerous warranty upgrades, including a $179 plan that extends the warranty from one year of standard support to three years of next-day exchange.
In either case, you'll find HP's printed setup guide and detailed onscreen manual useful. Online, HP provides a model-specific Web site, which has an extensive knowledge base, downloadable drivers for the LaserJet 3030, and links to e-mail and chat access with HP technicians.