HP LaserJet 3150's Versatility Is Big Step Forward in Small Package

Article excerpt

For some odd reason - to be uncovered, perhaps, by years of analysis - I've long been searching for the perfect output system. I guess it began when I bought an electronic typewriter back in 1982. You could hook it up to a personal computer I was told. The part I wasn't told: the film ribbons the typewriter used cost $3.50 each and would yield about 10 pages.

But I digress.

In January, Hewlett Packard announced the HP LaserJet 3150, a $599 system it bills as a "printer/fax/copier/scanner all-in-one" unit. For once, I believe a major corporation could be accused of gross understatement: this isn't just a multi-function unit. It's a minor miracle, I believe.

For one thing, the unit occupies about 1.4 square feet of space on a desktop. That's not as compact as some might want, but it's superior to other similar machines I've used recently. What's more, the compactness does not diminish the unit's effectiveness: there's no compromise in terms of functionality.

Another plus is the 600-dots-per-inch print resolution. That seems to be the default these days, but somehow, HP seems to score better in overall quality and sharpness of images than anyone else. In one instance, I had far better success setting up the LaserJet 3150 to use the Stamps.com Internet postage service than I did with a competing "all-in-one" device from Xerox, which balked at printing an envelope in the way that service required.

The sharpness of images also applies to faxes received as well as photocopies made. The unit is "always on" in a standby mode, meaning that it's ready to make copies or print pages, without using too much energy in the process. The copier function - and the built-in fax - operates without having to have a PC turned on.

But when connected to the PC, the LaserJet 3150 truly shines. Place a sheet of paper into the scanner feeding slot, and a window pops up on the PC display. You can select functions to make copies, send faxes or scan text, and the systems, PC and printer/scanner/fax, will work in the background to process the request. …