Not Exactly Portable
HP will have to refine the 350CBi before gung-ho business travelers find it attractive. This DeskJet supports Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT 4.0, 2000, MS-DOS, and Macintosh OS 8.1 or above. It connects only via parallel or infrared ports and features an integrated printhead. If you want to churn out color documents, you must swap ink cartridges. This a messy proposition to undertake while traveling and adds more items to your suitcase. The infrared adapter connects to the printer via the parallel port, adding yet another component to carry. To lighten the load, you could remove the 30-page sheet feeder, but manually feeding paper is a pain. The one feature we couldn't find fault with was the nickel-metal-hydride battery, which eliminates the need for a power cord but, again, adds extra weight.
Stick With Text
Though not especially mobile, the 350CBi offers the same lousy print quality associated with portable printers. On CNET Labs' tests, our jury rated text output at 600 by 600 dots per inch (dpi) on plain and coated paper fair, noting some letters were faint or fuzzy. Color graphics on the same paper stock were worse at the default 600 by 300 dpi. We found extreme pixelation on the gradation test (harking back to the days of dot-matrix printers). Also, the black produced by the color cartridge was lackluster and gray.
The HP 350CBi is economical, a plus for travelers on a budget. At only 4.8 cents per text page and 24 cents per color page, the HP is a real bargain. On performance tests, the HP is no speed demon, clocking in at 1.5 pages per minute (ppm) of black-and-white text at 600 by 600 dpi.
At $299, the HP 350CBi does not offer extraordinary features compared to the equally priced Canon BJC-85. Unless you really need a printer that can be set up in your hotel room, you're better off with a desktop model such as the HP DeskJet 812C, which offers better all-around performance for less money.