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HP Deskjet 3050A review

Kat Orphanides
27 Sep 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
39
inc VAT

HP's little Deskjet is cheap and cheerful - great for occasional home document printing

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At this price, HP's Deskjet 3050A is one of the cheapest MFPs we've ever seen. Despite its budget leanings, it has integrated Wi-Fi, a square 5cm mono LCD screen, automatic print head alignment and support for HP's ePrint, which means you can send documents directly to it from mobile devices and via Google's Cloud Print service. Build quality is a little flimsy and its paper tray can hold just 60 sheets of A4. However, it's also very compact, making it inconspicuous.

HP Deskjet 3050A open

Typically for a budget printer, the 3050A has just two ink cartridges, one black and one tri-colour. This is a notoriously expensive way to buy ink - page costs work out at 3.3p per mono page and 8.3p per page of mixed black and colour printing. Those prices don't take into account the fact that you'll have to change your colour cartridge as soon as any one colour runs out. However, running costs are less of an issue if you don't print very often.

The print engine can print at resolutions between its native 600x600dpi and a maximum enhanced resolution of 4,800x1,200dpi. If you enable maximum dpi in the printer's Advanced settings, you'll have to wait around 4 minutes for a single 4x6in photo. Enhanced resolution prints look a little sharper, but the improvement isn't sufficient to justify the extra time.

Heavily illustrated colour documents looked fantastic, with very slight white speckling in areas of dense colour, but otherwise were sharp and vibrant. They print at a slow 1.7ppm, though. The lettering on our text documents is pin-sharp in both draft and standard quality. In fact, although draft text is almost twice as fast at 11.6ppm, it's virtually indistinguishable from standard quality mono text at 12pt sizes.

HP Deskjet 3050A display

Photo prints are bright and colourful, but they're a little grainy and there's faint banding if you look closely. This becomes more pronounced as ink begins to run out. Dark areas in particular aren't as intense a printer with a photographic black cartridge - one very dark area was more red than black. There's no support for borderless printing, which further limits the 3050A's potential.

The good news is that the 1,200x1,200dpi scanner is good enough for most home document and photo scanning. Colour and shading were accurate but 1,200dpi scans were noticeably banded; 600dpi is the highest resolution we'd recommend using for accurate reproduction.

The scanner interface isn't as unwieldy as some of HP's previous attempts, but it's still restrictive. You can only choose from a set range of scan resolutions, so we were unable to carry out our 150dpi test. However, we liked the ability to add extra pages to our scan before saving it. Mono copies had stark high contrast, with little gradation in dark areas, but were easy to read. Colour copies looked great, with accurate colours and sharp text.

If you print a lot, or plan on printing photos or scanning images for graphical work, you shouldn't buy this printer. However, it's perfect for printing the odd map and scanning the occasional bill. It doesn't cost much to buy, produces good-looking document prints, is compact and covers the basics. At this price, you couldn't ask for much more, so it wins a Budget Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
Maximum native print resolution4,800x1,200dpi
Max optical resolution1,200x1,200dpi
Output bit depth24-bit

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A46ppm
Quoted speed, colour A44ppm

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.01m 26s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.06m 3s

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfacesUSB, 802.11n wireless
Optional printer interfacesnone
Size249x427x406mm
Weight3.5kg
Noise (in normal use)50dB(A)
Duty cycle1,000 pages

Paper Handling

Maximum paper sizeA4/legal
Maximum paper weight280gsm
Standard paper inputs1
Standard paper input capacity60
Maximum paper inputs1
Maximum paper input capacity60
Duplex (code, cost if option)No

General

Printer technologythermal inkjet
Supported operating systemsWindows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.5 - 10.6
Other inkjet features5cm mono LCD screen, automatic print head alignment, Google Cloud Print, print from mobile devices
Other inkjet optionsnone

Buying Information

Price£39
Consumable parts and prices£16.49
Price per colour A4 page5.0p
Quoted life of supplied black cartridge190 pages (ISO/IEC 24711)
Quoted life of supplied colour cartridge(s)165 colour pages (ISO/IEC 24711)
Quoted life of supplied photo cartridge(s)N/A
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.johnlewis.com
Detailswww.hp.co.uk

Print Quality

Number of ink colours4
Number of ink cartridges2
Maximum number of ink colours4
Maximum number of cartridges2
Quoted photo durability50 years
Quoted photo durability sourceHP

Tested Scan Speeds

Full scan area preview11s
A4 document at 150dpiN/A
A4 document at 300dpi30s
6x4in photo at 600dpi28s
6x4in photo at 1200dpi1m 50s

Tested Copy Speeds

Time for single A4 mono copy 1.018s
Time for single A4 colour copy 1.040s
Time for 10 A4 copies using feeder 2.0N/A

Photo Features

PictBridge supportNo
Direct (PC-less) printingNo
Supported memory cardsnone
CD printingNo

Copy Features

Maximum number of copies20
Max mono copy resolution600x600dpi
Max colour copy resolution600x600dpi

Fax Features

Max mono fax resolutionN/A
Fax memory (maximum mono pages)N/A