HP Deskjet 3050 Review
The HP Deskjet 3050 is an entry-level printer with a slightly better than entry-level performance.
Meet the Deskjet 3050, an entry-level multifunction printer from HP. While it doesn't give pro-photo printers a run for their money, it certainly performs well for its price point. This is a printer that would do well in a dorm or next to a family computer.
Design & Usability
Built for portability, the Deskjet 3050 doesn't have much in the way of advanced features.
After you chuck aside the tote bag that the HP Deskjet 3050 comes packed in, setup of the printer is actually quite easy. After you assemble the power cord and plug it in, you can install the ink cartridges in their slots by opening the grey door on the front of the printer. Once this is accomplished, you can continue with setup by installing the drivers disc, and either set your printer up to work as a shared printer over a wireless network, or dedicated machine via USB using the setup utility. Follow the instructions and setup should be accomplished quickly.
If you're a wire hater, you're in luck: The HP Deskjet 3050 can make use of its onboard 802.11n wireless card to connect to your local network and be shared across multiple computers (provided the drivers are installed). If you do not have Wi-Fi, you can also install your drivers and use your printer as a dedicated device over a USB connection. There are no media slots worth describing on the front of the printer for DPOF or media card printing, but the HP Deskjet 3050 does have a USB input in the back of the unit.
Due to the Deskjet 3050 being fairly simple compared to other entry-level multifunction printers, the control interface is pretty self-explanatory. Located on the top of the printer, you can select which function you would like to use (scan, turn on wireless, etc.), or navigate the dot-matrix menu screen with the three option buttons.
Features & Performance
If you like individual ink cartridges, look elsewhere.
The HP Deskjet 3050 uses two ink cartridges: a black ink cartridge and a color cartridge. While this is a more or less standard feature on entry-level printers, it is a rather inefficient model of ink usage because if you run out of one color ink, the whole cartridge is now bound for the trash bin, including all that leftover ink. Needless to say, this does create a potential for wasted money down the line.
Like many entry-level printers, the HP Deskjet 3050 can't print on anything crazy like T-shirts or the like, but you can basically print on just about any sheet of paper that isn't more than 3 mm thick, or larger than executive-ruled paper. Common paper types supported are 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, letter, legal, ledger, tabloid, A4, and several envelope sizes.
Overall, the color performance is weak on the Deskjet 3050, with average color accuracy and a somewhat smaller (but still acceptable) color gamut. It doesn't have the best detail in pictures either, but the worst errors we found were almost microscopic in scale. Still, it does show some artifacting in high-contrast situations.
Works for an entry-level multifunction on a budget, but not a high performer.
If you're looking for an affordable pickup of a printer that can perform the basic office functions and isn't terrible at printing photos, the Deskjet 3050 is certainly worth a look. With good color accuracy, and the ability to fulfill several office functions, this printer is at home in a dorm or a low-use office.
That being said, it's important to remember that this printer isn't going to compete well with higher end models that are dedicated to the creation of professional prints, or multifunction printers that are designed to do it all: Remember, it's an entry level printer. To wit, the biggest shortcoming of the printer is the fact that it doesn't have the same level of internet support newer printers have, and that's a problem that won't go away. Additionally, relying on the wasteful CMY cartridge will waste money and ink in the long run.
Still, if you're looking for a basic printer that can accommodate a low workload well, the Deskjet 3050 is a fantastic budget choice. It doesn't have many bells and whistles, but it is a bargain, and should fit the needs of a student or family fairly well if you're looking to save some money.
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