The HP OfficeJet 3830 offers a user-friendly touchscreen interface, great color graphics, decent text quality, and all-in-one functionality for just $100. However, if you print more than a few pages a week its high ink costs will quickly negate all of those advantages. If you're looking for an inexpensive inkjet that can handle larger printing volumes without breaking the bank, the Brother MFC-J995DW would likely be a better choice. Its text quality isn't quite as good, but it is similarly user-friendly and it uses a fraction of the ink that the OfficeJet 3830 gobbles through.
HP OfficeJet 3830 Review
Pros: Inexpensive upfront, great quality graphics
Cons: High ink costs, no duplex printing
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The HP OfficeJet 3830 offers a low list price and some convenient features, but high ink costs and the lack of duplex printing are likely dealbreakers for anyone that prints more than a few times a month.
The HP OfficeJet 3830 couldn't recover from a poor showing in our operating cost testing, resulting in a mediocre overall score.
The HP OfficeJet 3830 performed surprisingly well for an inkjet in our text quality testing. It certainly can't match the precision characters rendered by a high-quality laser, but it does better than most of its inkjet siblings.
All of the text we printed with the OfficeJet 3830 looks quite bold and fairly well defined. The only real blemish is a slight waviness that is usually seen around the midline of the characters, but in bad instances can be seen throughout. When printing in a standard 12 point font this distortion is only visible upon very close inspection. In smaller fonts it becomes more conspicuous, but we found even 8 point sizes to be acceptable, if not perfect.
This text quality is a noticeable step above that of most of the other budget inkjets we tested, For example, both the Brother MFC-J995DW and the HP Envy 4520 produce blotchy text that can look quite blurry, especially at smaller font sizes. The one economical inkjet that can match the OfficeJet 3830's text quality is the $150 Epson XP-640 Expression.
This is where the OfficeJet 3830 mostly loses its viability for all but those that only print very occasionally. Despite a tantalizingly low list price of $100, high ink costs make this printer very expensive in the long run.
The OfficeJet 3830 prints black and white text pages at an almost astronomical rate of $0.09 per page. This is barely less than the $0.10/page you would pay at most office stores, and makes it the least economical printer we've tested when it comes to text printing. Color printing costs are a bit more reasonable at $0.12 per page. While this isn't a particularly cheap rate, many of the printers we tested fell into this same range.
These figures combine into an estimated lifetime cost of $820. This is orders of magnitude higher than competing models like the Brother MFC-J995DW ($275). Even the Editors' Choice Award winning HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw posted a lower figure ($641).
Ease of Use
We found getting the OfficeJet 3830 set up, connected to Wi-Fi, and spitting out pages to be quite simple. It also offers many of the convenient features present on modern, Wi-Fi enabled printers, like cloud printing, mobile printing, and the ability to scan directly to various cloud storage services.
While the OfficeJet 3830 does check all of our boxes for minimizing the inherent frustrations of using a printer, we did find some things to be a bit annoying (apart from the occasional Wi-Fi connectivity issues you'll find in any wireless model). For example, the OfficeJet 3830 cannot print in duplex. There is driver support to automatically print every other page of a document, so you can print just the odd pages, then flip them over and reload them into the machine, then print the even pages. However, this process is cumbersome and far less convenient than the other similar models that offer automatic duplex printing (the Brother MFC-J995DW) comes to mind).
Additionally, in our opinion the OfficeJet 3830 fails to take complete advantage of its touch screen interface. It does make navigating its multiple functions more convenient than other all-in-ones that opt for analog interfaces, but we don't think the menu options are as sleek as those found on the likes of the Brother MFC-J995DW or the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw.
Graphics and Photos
The OfficeJet 3830 definitely delivers on its inkjet pedigree when it comes to printing graphics and photos. In fact, only one model that can match its performance in this metric is the Canon TS9120.
Graphs and figures printed with the OfficeJet 3830 look bold with vibrant colors and crisp definition. This inkjet can handle pretty much any visible representation of data you need to print.
Photos printed on standard paper maintain impressive clarity and a fairly accurate color spectrum. If you're looking to print high quality photos on proper photo paper, we would recommend the Canon TS9120. It is the best option we've found that can handle both text and frameable photos.
The OfficeJet 3830 is one of the slowest printers we've tested, able to print just 3 pages per minute on average. This won't feel too limiting if you only print occasionally, and tend to print short documents when you do, but you'll be waiting a while if you use it to print your term paper.
If you're looking for an inexpensive color inkjet that can print the occasional graph or form and offers copying and scanning functionality, the OfficeJet 3830 is a decent value due to its above-average printing performance and low initial price of $100. If you're going to be printing more than occasionally, however, it might be worth sacrificing a little text quality for the much lower ink costs of the Brother MFC-J995DW
The OfficeJet 3830 is a great and inexpensive standby for copying, scanning, and occasional printing, but high ink costs and a lack of duplex printing make it less than ideal for those that rpint frequently.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata