The HP 3630 is one of the most widely used All in One printers currently on the market, and advertises itself as “The perfect solution for everyday printing, scanning and copying” and at only £29.99 it seems like a bargain. Let’s see if that rings true!
It has both wired and wireless printing capabilities, and an option to print directly from your phone or iPad using Wifi Direct. This means that you can print directly even if there are no wireless routers available to connect your phone/tablet to.
The printer has a very attractive, modern white design with light blue accents, however the plastics used do feel rather thin and slightly flimsy. This isn’t a particularly negative point though, as printers like this aren’t designed to be constantly transported around. For the price paid, I’m not sure I would have expected anything more.
- Maximum print resolution: 4800 x 1200dpi
- Maximum scan resolution: 1200 x 1200dpi (24-bit)
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 158x438x310mm
- Weight: 4.2kg
- Maximum paper size: A4/legal
The on-board monochrome LCD screen is a very simple affair that allows basic functions like photocopying via a single button press and shows rudimentary diagnostic information such as ink levels, but this is really all that’s necessary as most printer functions are controlled via the PC software.
- Power cable
- USB cable
- 2 ‘Starter’ ink cartridges
- Driver/Software disk
- Warranty and information on ink refill purchases
Setup of the software and drivers was a relatively simple affair, with on-screen prompts to guide us through the process easily. However, there are a few “Extras” that are automatically installed unless “Custom installation” is selected. These include the “Product improvement study” and “HP Photo creations” which is a simple application that enables the user to turn photos into calendars, books or greetings cards. It also tried to install Google Chrome. Packaged apps like this shouldn’t be welcome in printer installation software!
Set up and Connectivity:
In order to set up the printer on a wireless connection, it is necessary to first plug the printer into a PC or laptop on the network so that the network settings can be transmitted to the printer. From here, the process asks to identify the wireless network and prompts to enter the password.
After this setup has complete, the USB cable is removed and the (Mandatory) registration of the printer to your home address requires completion.
A test page was then printed out (in German?!) and a blank explorer window appeared on the desktop with a rotating circle that never actually loaded. We had to kill this via task manager, but after loading the software from the desktop icons it appeared that this was the “HP Printer assistant” that can control all aspects of the printer from one application.
Printing can easily be done from your phone or tablet by downloading the HP Print service plugin from the phone’s app store and following the on-screen prompts.
Print quality and speed:
The first thing we noticed on full colour prints was the quality – it was quite remarkable for a budget home printer, with vibrant colours and very little banding on the pages. The black and white text prints were very deep black, leading to slight concerns about the amount of ink used for these, but they did look fantastic. If ink levels are a concern however, “draft” settings can be used, which still look great but use around 30% less ink.
The speed of printing on normal mode is relatively fast, at around 10 pages per minute when printing text, however photos and complex images can take over 3 minutes when selecting the higher qualities.
It is worth noting that there is no duplex setting on the printer (double-sided) and the maximum page size is A4.
The printer software also includes a “Quiet mode” which is enabled by default. This tends to slow the printing down slightly but with little to no difference (to our ears!) in loudness. We would recommend that this option is turned off and left off.
Below is a photograph of a high resolution test image printed out on normal quality settings:
The scanner produces reasonable quality and resolution scans for a home device and the speed can vary tremendously, with a 300dpi scan of an image taking 30 seconds whereby a 1200dpi (max resolution) scan took over 2.5 minutes to complete.
Scanned images can be saved as a number of different file types, from JPEG to PDF. The image below is a scan of a holiday snap we took on a disposable camera. The first image is 200dpi and the second is 1200:
For a budget scanner, these scans are quite acceptable for occasional usage - primarily at the higher (slow) resolution. If you need to perform regular high quality scans, it would take far too long on this all-in-one printer - not surprising given the price of this device.
Gone are the days of simply buying a new printer when the ink runs out due to it being cheaper than buying the actual ink. The printer comes with ‘Starter’ inks which have around 10% capacity of the normal cartridges and run out FAST.
Unfortunately, printing text can be expensive. The standard black ink cartridge (302) will only last for around 190 pages, and costs around £11., working out to around 5.5p per page. There is also an XL cartridge costing twice as much yet yielding 480 pages that reduces the price by 1p per page to 4.5p per page.
The standard colour cartridge costs around £13 and lasts for about 165 pages, which works out to around 8p per page and the HP 302 XL colour cartridge costs around £25, with up to 330 pages which maintains the same price per-page as the standard cartridge.
The DeskJet 3630 can also be used with HP’s “Instant Ink” subscription service, which involves paying a monthly fee that allows you to print a select number of pages.
The basic package will cost £1.99 for 50 pages (4p per page), with two more tiers costing £3.49 (100 pages, 3.5 p per page) and £7.99 (300 pages, 2.6p per page) respectively.
This involves the printer being set up via the desktop software to communicate directly with HP and monitoring your print usage, allowing you only to use the amount of ink you’ve signed up for. When the printer recognises that you’re about to run out of ink, a new cartridge will automatically be shipped out. There are allowances to run over the limit of pages, but these will add increased costs to your plan.
Although the Instant Ink service seems like a good deal, it doesn’t seem entirely practical for a home-use printer unless the device is used very frequently (in which case a laser printer or something more robust may be applicable anyway).
Overall 4/5 – A fantastic little all-in-one printer with a multitude of options and great printing and scanning quality. The inks are a little pricey but they work out average for an inkjet printer. Recommended!