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 $65 model that is specified to last 2,500 pages (about 2.6 cents per page), and a 3,500-page model that sells for $82 (about 2.3 cents per page).
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 color 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.
Scan and copy performance
As a multifunction printer, the HP did well with scanning and copying. It scanned 2.0 pages per minute (ppm) of color 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 color and grayscale scans. The color scans had excellent color matching and very good gradient, while the gradient of the grayscale scans was poor. Despite all this, the HP made decent-looking monochrome copies.
|Copy speed||Grayscale speed||Color scan speed||Black graphics speed||Black text speed|
|Grayscale quality||Color scan quality||Graphics quality||Text quality|
The HP LaserJet 3380 was tested with the factory settings of the software driver, which can be adjusted to address the above-mentioned problems. Learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
At more than $700, the HP LaserJet 3380 is no casual purchase, but HP supports the product well with a yearlong warranty and toll-free telephone tech support available 24/7. HP also sells additional support options. For example, a three-year, next-day-exchange warranty costs $179.
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.