Following this year's #HPInstawalk, iAfrikan managed to get a unit, from the affordable HP DeskJet Ink Advantage range of printers, to play with for about a month. This specific model is the 3635 with multi-functions of print, copy and scan. This high quality photo and document producer is ideal for home use and small offices – that’s if your budget is low and your business doesn’t require performing heavy print jobs on a daily basis.
The printer boasts funky HP colours (HP blue and white) with the shape of an oil tanker. On the top left is a Control Panel with a 7-segment LED Display and icon LCD. These include standard popular icons (for example Wireless button, Ink Alert and Information button) but without a User Guide the purpose of some of the icons are not easy to figure out. The rest of the top surface is covered by the flat-bed scanner with a lid that lifts like the average car bonnet.
The input tray is at the rear end and slides up and down for loading paper and is equipped with a small paper width guide for different paper sizes (A4, 21.59 x 27.94 cm, 10.16 x 15.24 cm or 12.7 x 17.78 cm). The different textures of paper you can load includes among others, high-quality photo paper, professional business brochures with glossy finishes and everyday printing paper.
The output tray extender located in the front end slides out anti-clockwise to stick out like a blue tongue that catches your prints. I must share that discovering how the extender slides out was a mild embarrassment. I wanted to pull it straight out similar to my own home office printer before consulting the manual. The mechanics were fortunately strong enough to resist my earlier attempts and ultimately avoided a costly accident.
Without a manual, it’s not easy for the average non-techie to get things going. The Setup Poster however covers the basics and you can get printing within minutes.
The power connector is located at the rear end together with a USB 2.0 High Speed port for direct connection to a computer. For initial setup, you’ll need to install the printer software that comes with the installation CD or, like in my case, download it from the internet. From then on connecting to the printer is simply plug-and-play.
Loading paper is as simple as sliding it into the top input tray and adjusting the paper-width guide. The loader is rather thin and makes this printer non-suitable for huge print jobs. I was able to fit in 40 pages without risking a paper jam.
The big highlight for these printers is their wireless capabilities and mobile printing. I was more interested in running my tests through this connection so I dumped the USB setup.
The quickest and easiest way to connect to the printer is via a Wi-Fi Direct connection. This is as simple as turning on the Wi-Fi Direct button on the Control Panel and connecting to it using your smartphone or tablet, as you would any Wi-Fi HotSpot.
This HP 3635 printer is strongly recommended for small businesses with a low budget and for regular home use. Tweet
You can either print directly from your smartphone’s Menu options or use the HP All-in-One Remote App. It’s best however to use the App so that you can specify print properties or preferences. For Apple users, there’s support for using AirPrint.
A personal preference and recommendation for the small office, is to have the printer connected to a wireless router in a network instead of using Wi-Fi Direct for each device. You can either use a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) or configure it via the HP Printer Software. By following the manual, both of these are easy to setup for an entry-level techie but would be a challenge for the average target customer. However once initial setup is completed, connecting to the printer on a daily basis is simple.
For the WPS case, a challenge may present itself whenever there’s a system restart/refresh. You’ll need to insert a new WPS PIN into your wireless router configuration each time that happens. However, this configuration is rare and can be avoided if you have a WPS Push Button on your wireless router.
Still on the WPS challenge, you have to print a new “Information” sheet (2 pages) each time you access a new WPS PIN. This can be irritating if you’re conservative with your paper. An option to use a combination of a key sequence and the 7-segment display to reveal the PIN could have been included.
Lastly, with HP’s ePrint service, you can print by sending an email to the address assigned to your Web Services enabled printer. You could be at the opposite end of the world and remotely print for your family back at home. Down goes the travel postcards business.
All of the above Apps and services are free of charge.
Copy and Scan
These functions produce non-compromised copies and the scanning gave me high resolution pictures. You have the option to scan to PDF or JPEG. Below is some artwork of myself that I scanned as a test.
HP promises the following print speeds:
|Printing||Black and White||Colour|
|ISO||Up to 8.5||Up to 6|
|Draft||Up to 20||Up to 16|
In my case I was averaging 4 pages per minutes for black and white, and 1 per minute for colour printing. That’s because I was printing highly graphical memes. It does this with a little noise below baby-waking level. The quality of the prints are excellent and you can even produce borderless prints. I was tempted to print some of our own marketing brochures but roughly 20 memes into my tests the ink level indicator on the control panel was starting to wane.
This model doesn’t support multitasking. Your colleague can’t expect their print job to be completed while you’re busy scanning - another rare occasion in a small office.
Regular maintenance and performing Health Checks are provided via the Control Panel. The icons present the status of basic operational needs and you can print further details via the Information button. Replacing the ink cartridges is straightforward and HP gives you the option of buying the recommended cartridges online.
This HP 3635 printer is strongly recommended for small businesses with a low budget and for regular home use. At an estimated street price of R1099 it looks elegant, provides unique features like wireless mobile printing and makes printing high quality pictures cool again. HP’s earlier decision to split the company into two entities, one of which focuses on personal computer and printer operations, is proving positive with such products.
- Wireless mobile printing and scanning
- Cool overall design
- High quality printing at low cost
- Speed for graphics rich printing is slow
- Paper Input Tray
- Primitive Control Panel