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Lifewire / Jeffrey Daniel Chadwick
Light, compact design
Amazing quality photo prints
Document feeder for copying
Decent document printing times
A great buy for budgeteers
Tri-color cartridge drains quickly
Small control panel
If you have a home or small office, the HP OfficeJet 3830 is a good pick for both an occasional-use machine or a reliable, workhorse printer.
The HP OfficeJet 3830 is an AirPrint printer that provides great value for both occasional and moderate printer users. It includes what you need for most small office and home printing, scanning, and copying tasks. The quality of the prints are surprisingly high for a budget printer and it performs consistently, quickly and accurately. For printers under $100, this model is hard to beat.
The OfficeJet 3830 looks like the younger brother of the larger, more hefty all-in-one machine at a large office. It does all the same stuff, just on a smaller scale. You can use this printer to copy, print, scan, fax, and most other functions you’d expect from a high-end printer, but at a much lower price tag.
The HP OfficeJet 3830 is about as compact as all-in-one printers get. It measures a mere 11.3 x 17.6 x 2.9 inches and should fit nicely on nearly any surface. Plus, because it’s wireless, there’s a lot more options for where you can place it around the house and office. Weighing in at 12 pounds, it’s also quite light and can be moved around with ease.
The top of the device has a document feeder for copying and faxing. This is very useful if you need copies made quickly. Our test model handled a consistent feed of a 100-page text-based document with ease. It never jammed or grabbed more than one sheet of paper. Because it’s designed for 35 sheets of paper, we did have to manually feed it, but not for very long.
It’s the perfect price for people who only print and scan occasionally, or anyone on a budget that needs a cheap, dependable inkjet printer.
This inkjet printer uses the traditional tri-color and black cartridges. This is fine if you don’t print color that often, but it only takes one ink tone to run low before you have to buy a new one. Replacement costs can add up quickly if you plan to print a lot of color documents or photos—the tri-ink cartridge that came with our test machine needed to be replaced after only a single day of heavy use.
The control panel on the OfficeJet 3830 is a small but adequate 2.2-inch touchscreen that provides you an at-a-glance view of the printer’s status and gives you easy access to copying, scanning, and faxing. You can also access various housekeeping tools through the setup menu.
It also has a couple of extras that could come in handy. The Printables section on the control panel allows you to print simple documents including calendars, checklists, notebook-ruled paper, graphing paper, or blank sheet music. There’s even a template for Sodoku puzzles, which could make for a convenient distraction during your lunch break at the office.
If nothing goes wrong, it shouldn’t take you more than 25 minutes to set this printer up. The setup guide is entirely pictorial and easy to follow...for the most part. When we set up this printer, we incorrectly installed one of the ink cartridges and caused a carriage jam, and resolving that minor mishap took longer and caused more frustration than it should have.
Nevertheless, once we corrected the mistake the rest of the setup was a breeze. Downloading and installing the HP software was simple, and the printer itself had no issues detecting or connecting to our Wi-Fi network.
Printed documents were decent quality, both in color and in black and white. Every text character and graphic was well defined and crisp. Colors were solid, consistent, and evenly distributed. We didn’t see any print lines, smudges, or formatting issues that would degrade the quality of the print.
The OfficeJet 3830 prints documents at a pretty quick clip. When we tested it, we printed a black and white copy of a 100-page screenplay. It took 11 minutes and 12 seconds to complete the task, an average of 6.72 pages per minute.
We also used it to print color-intensive documents such as calendars and newsletters and found that it takes an average of 45 seconds to print a single-page color document.
While the OfficeJet 3830 does a great job at printing photos, using it for that purpose drains the tri-color ink cartridge very quickly. We printed about a dozen 4x6 prints with this machine and three 8x10s in full color. We got a low ink warning on our computer after we printed the third 8x10.
However, the quality of the prints we did get were amazing. The photo that was probably the culprit for draining our tri-color cartridge is an extreme closeup of a person’s face. The clarity of the image is astounding—every skin crease, pore, whisker, and eyelash is probably more detailed than you’d see if you were standing a foot away from them.
That level of detail from a printer this price and size is mind blowing.
Even the details of the eyes, down to the blood vessels and imperfections in the iris, were perfectly clear. The kicker is that if you look closely at the person’s eye, you can see the reflection of the house he’s looking at. That level of detail from a printer this price and size is mind blowing.
The speed of the photo printer is a bit slower than the others we reviewed, but not by much. On average, printing a color 8x10 photo takes about four minutes and a 4x6 took just sixty seconds. By comparison, the Pixma printer we tested printed 4x6s in 25 seconds and never exceeded a minute to make any particular photograph.
When we tested the scanner we found it to be simple to align and use. We scanned various legal documents, such as tax forms as well as old pictures that needed to be digitized. We found the scans to be imperfect, with some minor loss of detail, but still good quality and usable.
This printer handles copying much more efficiently than the other desktop all-in-one printers we’ve reviewed. This is mainly due to the paper feeder on the top. The feeder enables it to grab one sheet, suck it into the machine, copy it, spit it back out, and immediately grab the next sheet. It’s a snappy, effective process—we copied our 100-page screenplay in six minutes and 33 seconds.
Compare that to the Pixima TS9120, which lacks a document feeder. Copying with that machine requires you standby and manually change out each individual sheet of a document as it copies. Copying a 100 page document could take upwards of an hour with that machine.
The results with the OfficeJet speak for themselves—our copied screenplay was nearly identical to the original.
The OfficeJet 3830 can be used as a totally wireless machine. However, unlike the other wireless printers we tested, there is no option to physically connect it to a computer or network via ethernet cable. You can physically connect via USB, but you’ll have to buy the proper cable, since it’s not included in the box.
If you use Apple products, you’ll find AirPrint to be a very convenient way to use this machine. Once it’s setup, any device running iOS or macOS will be able to use this printer without having to go through the traditional connection routines. All you have to do is be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the printer.
When we tested this AirPrint printer, we sent documents to it from a MacBook Pro, an iMac and two iPhones (X and 5S). The OfficeJet showed up in our list of available AirPrinters every time we looked for it and responded almost immediately after we sent it a printing task.
You can also send documents to this printer via Wireless Direct. When the OfficeJet 3830 is on, you’ll see a network named “DIRECT-FA_HP OfficeJet 3830” on your device’s Wif-Fi menu. When you connect, you’ll be able to print documents and photos immediately. Wireless Direct allows you to connect up to five devices at a time to this printer.
One wireless option found in some other AirPrint printers that’s absent in the OfficeJet 3830 is a memory card reader. This feature would allow you to print photos directly from an SD card, convenient for photographers who want a quick print of a photo from their camera without interacting with a computer or other device.
HP Utility is the software that you’ll use to interact with this inkjet printer from your computer. It’s simple software with a basic interface that anyone should be able to use with few problems. You can use it to access any HP printer in your network and get information like how much ink you have left. It also allows you to clean your printheads, align your printer, and run quality diagnostics.
While you don’t need the HP Easy Scan application to send scanned documents and photos to your computer’s hard drive, it does give you more control and access to more features. For example, you get a number of presets for photos, text, and color documents, and Easy Scan enables you to crop and straighten scanned items before you save them to your computer. It also lets you adjust image values of scanned photos like exposure, contrast, and brightness. This comes in handy when you’re scanning photos that need minor, quick edits.
HP also provides a mobile app you can use with the HP OfficeJet 3830. The HP Smart app is available in the iOS App Store and Google Play. Not only does it enable you to print documents and photos stored on your mobile device, it can also save scans to your computer, mobile device, or cloud service, or forward them through email.
HP Smart also allows you to connect cloud storage and social media services. This is great because it gives you access to all the photos you’ve posted on Facebook and Instagram over the years. Plus, syncing with services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote puts all the documents you’ve been storing in one place.
At around $50, this is a very budget-friendly machine. Considering that it does everything you’d expect from an all-in-one printer, it’s the perfect price for people who only print and scan occasionally, or anyone on a budget that needs a cheap, dependable inkjet printer.
If you do use it regularly, the ongoing costs of ink are a real concern. Considering that our tri-color cartridge was used up in about a day of testing (granted we printed a lot of documents and pictures), and replacement cartridges can cost upwards of $65, it can get pricey overtime.
HP offers a subscription ink delivery program called HP Instant Ink. You can choose from subscription ink replacement plans starting as low as $3 per month. If you plan to use this printer with any frequency, it's definitely worth considering.
We tested the OfficeJet 3830 simultaneously with the Canon Pixima iX6820. If you’re choosing between these particular printers, we recommend the Pixima iX6820 for those who demand high printing quality, but don’t need an all-in-one machine. The OfficeJet, however, packs a number of conveniences that the iX6820 lacks, like the touchscreen functionality, and if you do any volume of scanning or faxing it’s the better option.
Versatile, cheap, and dependable.
The HP OfficeJet 3830 is a worthy buy if you need a small, affordable printer that does everything. The quality and functionality are surprisingly robust given the price—as long as you’re judicious with your color ink.