Hewlett Packard has two ranges of multi-function device, one based around inkjet technology and the other around laser engines. The LaserJet 3150 is a member of the second group and is a fairly substantial machine using a mono laser engine and a separate scanning head. There are two, near-vertical paper bins set in the top surface of the machine and these feed and collect pages printed, copied or faxed.
A third slot, in front of the other two, takes pages for scanning and feeds out to a peculiar wire cradle which projects from the front of the 3150. This aspect of the machine, along with the fact that originals have to be fed facing backwards, show that not all aspects of its design have been thoroughly thought out.
The other main bug-bear is the LCD display on its front panel. Because of the many different functions the 3150 is designed to perform, this display is very important to its function, but it’s set too far below the machine’s top surface and without a backlight is often difficult to read.
The control panel also includes an array of 35 buttons, which enable you to dial from it, use phone memories and perform the other functions of photocopying and faxing, without having the machine connected to a PC. It’s generally well laid out and is easy and quick to use – a standalone photocopy of a mixed text and graphics page takes around 30 seconds.
When you connect up to a PC, though, the 3150 becomes even more useful. The Windows software, known as JetSuite Pro, offers several extra functions, including OCR. It will take a target page and scan it, distinguishing areas of graphics and text and reconstructing the layout in a word processor or DTP program. It did well with a sample page imported into Word, only making a slight mistake with the size of some of the graphics.
One of the key features of a multi-function machine like this is how it handles more than one task at a time. What happens if a fax comes in when you’re already printing a document, for example? The 3150 spools the incoming pages to memory and prints them out when it’s finished its print job, which is as it should be. Similarly, you can scan and print simultaneously, without upsetting the software.
Print speeds are a little sluggish when compared with a conventional laser printer and don’t really approach the quoted 6ppm unless you’re printing very simple pages. Running costs, at just under 2.5p per page, are also a little steep compared with a normal laser printer. Overall, though, the LaserJet 3150, a compact and generally well-engineered 600dpi device, is worth considering as a small office workhorse.
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