HP Deskjet 3630 Review – HP brings the Deskjet brand to a new generation of personal printers
I first used the Deskjet Plus in 1989, and 26 years later, we’re not a long way from that original highly successful concept. HP’s new Deskjet 3630 is still built around a combined ink head and reservoir in the cartridge, and produces reasonably rapid output on a good range of stock. And in this variation, it also comes with a scanner to add extra scan and copy functionality to the standard printing skills.
Seeing this printer after covering HP’s Envy 4520 printer was most enlightening, because they’re effectively built around the same print engine, but the designers took rather different paths. While the Envy was low, angular and wide, the Deskjet 3630 is taller, takes up less desk space and has a decidedly curved aesthetic. It’s also a creamy white, making this seem much more like something you’d put in a home than an office.
But the biggest change is that there isn’t a paper tray on this design; instead HP opted for a rear-angled feed, and this isn’t as elegant.
I had some problems with it, because the feed failed to cleanly pull individual 15 x 10cm sheets of gloss from ten sheets I put in. And it has auto paper detection that wrongly identified A4 as Letter sized.
Oddly, the one area where I thought I’d have problems, wi-fi, worked flawlessly. As there isn’t a big enough LCD for inputs, to connect the Deskjet 3630 to your wireless network needs you to initially use USB or WPS. I used the latter, and it worked really well and very quickly, and once visible on the network, the drivers automatically installed.
The LCD panel is postage stamp sized and gives you the number of copies you’ve selected, wi-fi signal strength (if wi-fi Direct is in use), ink levels and it reports any errors. As the LCD is mono, it assumes you know which of the two ink level relates to color and black, though I’d just assume the lower one is more likely to be color.
Ink comes in the same HP 302 cartridges as the Envy 4520 uses, and sadly that means all the colors are in one cartridge and black in the other.
The standard-sized HP 302 tri-color cartridge is rated for 165 pages at 5% coverage, which I found translated into just six A4 borderless prints before it was exhausted.
If this sounds expensive, and it is, HP has included this printer in its new ‘Instant Ink’ service option, where you pay from a month to have HP send you cartridges automatically when the levels reach a critical point. This will save you money over direct purchasing. However, given how rapidly they can empty, I’m not sure how you’d be protected from running out in practical terms.
Overall, unless you buy printers for their looks, I think this isn’t as good as the Envy 5420, which brings you a slicker experience for just a tenner more. Mark Pickavance
HP Deskjet 3630 Review – Verdict
A very basic printer, scanner and copier for home use..
HP Deskjet 3630 Review
HP Deskjet 3630 – A bargain in every way but several
When inkjet printers were first introduced, they cost a small fortune. Then they started to get cheaper. Then they got really cheap. Eventually, they were practically being given away. Eventually, of course, we began to twig what was going on. They weren’t charging us much for the printer, but they were charging us a small fortune for the ink.Today, printer ink is still, pound for pound, one of the most expensive liquids you can buy (up there with Chanel No5 perfume). So you’d still be right in thinking that when you buy a very cheap printer, like this one, it’s the cost of ink that you should really be looking at. With HP’s 302XL cartridges, at about £18 for black and £18 for color if you shop around, printing a standard page of text and color graphics on the Deskjet 3630 will cost you 9.3p. You could save a bit by subscribing to HP’s new Instant Ink service, but the plans are so arbitrary and complicated that it’s hard to be sure.Those cartridges aren’t horrendously expensive, and for 40 quid you’re getting a very attractive printer, complete with the almost obligatory glass under the top lid for scanning and photocopying. HP’s breadbin-style design is a thing of beauty compared to the usual dour black box, and although there’s no touchscreen, the basic controls are easy to use. There’s no memory card slot or double-sided printing, but Wi-Fi is built in for access from your PC, phone and tablet.To set up the Deskjet 3630, however, you first have to connect it to a computer via USB while you install HP’s software, and that’s when things start looking less attractive. Unless you untick the option, Google’s Chrome also gets installed as your default browser (along with HP’s Smart Print web extension), something you might not want. Then the printer starts in the slower-performing Quiet mode, which you can’t even change from the Print command, only in the separate HP Toolbox app. Other advanced options are also difficult to track down – a typical failing of HP’s current software.With Quiet mode disabled, the Deskjet 3630 printed our black-text document at a sprightly 11.5 pages per minute (ppm), but color pages fell to 2ppm and a 6x4in photo crawled out in an agonising four minutes. A color A4 photocopy took a whole minute. This is not a machine for anyone in a hurry.
HP Deskjet 3630 Review – VERDICT
It looks nice and is cheap, but slow output and software complexities put us off.
HP Deskjet 3630 Review – SPECIFICATIONS
4800x1200dpi maximum print resolution • 1200x1200dpi maximum scan resolution • USB • 802.11n Wi-Fi • 158x438x310cm (HxWxD) • 4.2kg • One-year warranty.