The HP LaserJet 3015 copies; sends and receives faxes; prints in monochrome; and scans in monochrome or color to your PC. Built around a vendor-rated 16 page-per-minute (ppm) laser printer engine and a 600dpi color scanner, the LaserJet 3015 is affordable, easy to use, and just fast enough for occasional use, making it perfect for students and families. However, its text print quality isn't as sharp as the results we've come to expect from standalone monochrome lasers, and its color scanner captures detail well but not true color. Small businesses will be much happier with the top-of-the-line HP LaserJet 3380 instead. The HP LaserJet 3015 weighs a mere 20 pounds (very light for a multifunction printer), stands 18 inches high, and occupies a compact 16.5 inches wide by 13 inches deep--small enough that it won't crowd even a tight work space. Like most home fax machines these days, the LaserJet 3015 uses a vertical sheetfed scanner instead of the flatbed design used on the LaserJet 3030 and the LaserJet 3380, the other two models in this series. This sheetfed design keeps the price down, but it also means the HP LaserJet 3015 can't scan, copy, or fax pages that are bound in a book or a magazine, nor can it handle large stacks of documents.
The bottom of the HP LaserJet 3015 houses the 150-sheet tray with a 10-sheet bypass for envelopes, letterhead, and heavy paper stock. Unfortunately, there's no second paper tray option, so small offices will need to refill the primary tray often.
With a touch of a button, the top half of the machine pops open, exposing the combination toner cartridge/imaging drum, which costs $70 and is specified to last a mere 2,000 pages (that's a hefty 3.5 cents per page; laser printers usually print at 2 cents per page). The back sports a USB 2.0 port, a parallel port, and a telephone jack with a pass-through jack. The HP LaserJet 3015 installs itself almost automatically under Windows and also runs under Mac OS releases less than five years old.
One design peculiarity appears within the input document feeder: it pulls from the bottom of the stack instead of the top page. It didn't jam or pull two pages at a time, so HP must have worked out the mechanics carefully. However, we had a hard time remembering to put the documents in facing the right way.
Using the HP LaserJet 3015 is easy, in part thanks to its crystal-clear control panel. The panel separates each function into groups of buttons, including a set of seven speed dials, fax setup controls, and a numeric keypad. A two-line LCD has arrow buttons beside it to navigate the menus. The HP LaserJet 3015 comes with 32MB of memory, enough to hold about 250 monochrome fax pages.
Like HP's high-end enterprise printers, the HP LaserJet 3015 installs an HTML viewer with its drivers to monitor the printer's status from your PC, print reports such as fax logs, and update information, for example, adding fax numbers to the phone book that is shared between your PC and the device's own memory. The HP software suite also includes ReadIris Pro OCR, which converts scanned pages into live text on your PC; a basic send-fax interface that appears in the list of installed printers; and a simple TWAIN-scanner interface window with a few image-editing features.
The HP LaserJet 3015 turned in mixed performance in CNET Labs' tests. It printed 12.4 pages per minute (ppm) of text and 9.8ppm for graphics. This score is above average and very close to HP's claimed speed for the machine: 14ppm.
The LaserJet 3015's print quality, however, didn't impress us. Its text output was sharp and clear but looked a little too dark nonetheless, with hairy letters here and there. Its graphics output fared even worse, with inconsistent density in the graphical elements and images.
|Copy speed||Grayscale speed||Color scan speed||Black graphics speed||Black text speed|
Scanning and copying performance
In our tests, the LaserJet 3015 scanned color documents as quickly--or rather as slowly--as it scanned black documents, with a score of only 1.3 pages per minute, making it the slowest multifunction laser we've tested. With a fax-style or sheetfed scanner, the 3015 can't scan anything thicker than one single sheet. The printer, however, managed to copy at 4.1ppm, comparable to most laser multifunction printers we've seen.
Unfortunately, the printer's scan quality wasn't any better. The color images looked yellowish, washed out, and inconsistently tinted, even though the details were good and the images were sharp. We found the same problems with grayscale. The image offered great contrast in dark areas, but in lighter areas, the contrast was off, together with the gradient. Overall, the document was too bright and therefore somewhat washed out. We do not evaluate the quality of the photocopies produced.
|Grayscale quality||Color scan quality||Graphics quality||Text quality|
Learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
HP treats its consumer-grade printers with enterprise-grade service. The LaserJet 3015 comes with the industry-standard one year of limited warranty, plus 24/7 toll-free tech support. You can enhance this coverage by buying three years of warranty coverage for an additional $159.
The printer package itself includes a long, detailed fax-features manual and a brief but clear guide to the other features. These printed documents are supplemented by a more thorough onscreen manual. HP's Web site also provides a lot of product-specific information, support via e-mail, and driver updates.