The HP OfficeJet 6310 All-in-One has most of the basic features needed by a small office--fax, built-in networking, and an automatic document feeder (ADF)--along with a few bonus features, including handy media card slots. It also lacks some of the features that would make it a great small office machine, however, such as the ability to send fax blasts on the fly and expandable paper handling. Additionally, it suffers from middling print quality. The less expensive Canon Pixma MP530 trounces the OfficeJet 6310 in terms of task speed and print quality but lacks the media card slots and networkability. The slightly more expensive Canon Pixma MP830 is also faster, has somewhat better with print quality, and includes media card slots but, unfortunately, also lacks networking. (Both Canons have built-in duplexers.) So, which to choose? If you value fast print speeds and can't live without media card slots, go for the Pixma MP830. If you want the best print quality, stick with the MP530. You can network either of them with a router that has a built-in print server, and both offer faster print speeds and better print quality than the OfficeJet 6310.
The OfficeJet 6310's small form factor is a perfect fit for space-challenged homes and small offices. It measures just 18 inches wide, 15.3 inches deep, and 9.3 inches tall, and it weighs a mere 12 pounds. The flatbed scanner is big enough for originals up to A4 in size, but the built-in automatic document feeder lets you scan legal-size originals. The ADF can hold up to 35 pages, great for batch scanning, copying, or faxing.
Despite the office-oriented nature of this printer, it comes with media card slots and a USB port for PictBridge cameras, camera phones, or USB flash drives for PC-free photo printing. You can even transfer pictures between a media card and a flash drive without touching your computer. Accepted media cards include xD, CompactFlash, Memory Stick, and Secure Digital, among others. Some may require an adapter, which HP does not provide. You can also use the USB port with a Bluetooth adapter for printing wireless from a PDA or a cell phone, but you'll have to buy a separate adapter offered by HP.
The OfficeJet 6310's paper-handling options are limited. The input/output tray juts out of the front of the machine's body, with the output tray sitting atop the input tray. The input tray can hold up to 100 sheets of regular paper, and although there's no reason you can't use legal-size paper, the input tray lacks a paper support. Long sheets of paper will hang over the edge of the tray. On the other hand, the output tray has an extension flap and an extra flap that folds out to corral long prints. We'd like to see a second input tray for the occasional one-off print.
The control panel is very similar to other HP control panels we've looked at recently. Each function--scan, copy, fax, photo--has its own set of buttons, including start and menu. The fax section includes an alphanumeric keypad, five one-touch dial buttons, a speed-dial button, a junk-fax blocker, and an auto-answer button. The copy area includes a reduce/enlarge button and another that lets you toggle copy quality (best, normal, fast). Although HP's site says that the reduce/enlarge feature gives you a range of 25 to 400 percent, we found only a range of preset resizings, such as full page, legal to letter, actual size, fit to page, and fill entire page. The photo section has only a print photos button and a proof sheet button (in addition to the menu button), and the scan area, likewise, has only a scan-to button. In addition to all the task areas, the control panel includes a two-line, backlit text LCD and forward, back, OK, and cancel buttons. One oddity that we found is that in order to scroll through the main options in each menu, you have to press the menu button repeatedly, then use the forward and back keys to see the options for each submenu. It's more intuitive to press the menu button once to access the menu and use the forward and back keys to scroll through each menu and submenu. It's not a difficult thing to figure out, but it's not entirely intuitive either.
The OfficeJet 6310 employs a two-ink-tank design: one is a tricolor tank and the other is a black only. For printing six-color photographs, you can swap out the black tank for an additional tricolor photo ink tank. Changing ink tanks is simple: just lift up on the control panel and the printhead will slide into view. Pop out each tank and insert the replacement tanks into the labeled slots. The regular-capacity black tank (5mL) costs $15, while the high-capacity black tank (11mL) costs $20 to replace; the tricolor tank costs $25 and comes in only one size. (The high-capacity tanks are usually a better deal than the regular capacity ones.)
The HP OfficeJet 6310 can be used as a stand-alone printer via USB or a networked printer via Ethernet, and it works with both Macs and PCs. Installing the printer is a straightforward, if time-consuming, task. (HP printers tend to take a long time to set up because they install a huge amount of software.) This model lacks a duplexer, so double-sided printing is a manual operation.
Like most office all-in-ones, the OfficeJet 6310 includes a fax function. The faxes are scanned on the flatbed scanner or via the ADF. The included hard-copy user guide walks you through all the setup variations, depending on what type of line you have, what components (answering machine, for example), and how you want to handle incoming calls and faxes. The fax options are limited for an office-oriented device; while you can fax multipage documents using the ADF, you don't have the option of setting up a delayed fax or doing a fax blast on the fly. You can, using HP's Solution Center, program individual or group speed-dial numbers, but if you want to do a one-off blast, you can't just key in multiple numbers on the printer; you'll have to set up a speed dial group. When receiving faxes, you have the option of holding incoming faxes in memory and printing them later, but you can't password-protect this task, thereby negating any security you might gain from holding the faxes. If you subscribe to caller ID, you can add phone numbers to a junk-fax list stored in the OfficeJet 6310. Incoming faxes from those numbers won't be printed. Finally, you can forward faxes coming into your machine to another fax machine, convenient if you're away from your office for a while. Theoffers better fax options, including delayed fax and broadcast fax.