The HP OfficeJet 4315 is a prime example of the maxim: "jack-of-all-trades, master of none." As impressive as it is for a $100 machine to print, scan, copy, and fax, the OfficeJet 4315 performs all of its tasks slowly, and its print quality leaves a lot to be desired. It's a good option if you have very light printing needs--say, the occasional map and directions--but you also want to have an all-in-one machine on hand, just in case. The OfficeJet 4315 certainly won't take up much room in your office; it's small enough to stash in a closet, in fact. If you don't need the fax option, consider the equally inexpensive Lexmark X3350: it's faster and has a PictBridge port to boot. If you have an additional $30 to spare, spring for the Canon Pixma MP450; you'll get faster task speeds and far better print and scan quality, though you'll lose the fax capability. The HP OfficeJet 4315 is very compact for an all-in-one printer, due to the fact that it doesn't have a flatbed scanner; it uses the same pass-through mechanism for faxing and scanning. The gray-and-white unit is only 16.75 inches wide, 8 inches deep, and 7 inches tall--with all of its trays folded in--and weighs a mere 8.3 pounds. The three paper trays fold in, with the top two overlapping the top-mounted control panel. The rear tray is an automatic document feeder for scans and fax/copy originals, and it can hold up to 20 sheets. The top of the two front-mounted trays catches the copy and scan originals, while the bottom one serves as both an input and output tray. The input tray has adjustable paper guides and can hold up to 100 sheets. The printed pages fall out on top of the input tray, which makes it a hassle to refill the input tray mid-job. Unfortunately, the printer doesn't have a straight pass-through, which often proves problematic for thick media such as card stock, because it doesn't bend through the print mechanism as easily as plain paper.
The control panel has dedicated buttons to switch between fax, scan, and copy tasks; a numeric keypad and quick-dial buttons for faxing; and a group of faxing-oriented buttons, including speed dial, fax resolution, redial/pause, and answer mode. For navigating the menu, there are two scroll buttons, an OK button, and a cancel button. Rounding out the control panel are separate start buttons for black-and-white and color tasks. A two-line LCD helps you navigate the limited menu. Each task has its own menu options, and they are easy to navigate to cover all the bases.
A small panel on the printer opens to reveal the ink tanks. The OfficeJet 4315 uses two tanks: one black and one tricolor tank. A replacement black tank costs $14.99 and, according to HP, the tank prints up to 150 pages. A replacement color tank costs $17.99 and prints up to 140 pages. This comes out to about 10 cents per page for a black-and-white print and nearly 13 cents per page for a color print--expensive, especially for the black-and-white prints. You can bring your black printing costs down to about 8 cents per page by using the high-capacity black tank (double the volume) that costs $17.99 and prints up to 220 pages, though 8 cents per page is still pricey. These numbers are about comparable to those of the Lexmark X3350, but they're higher than the cost per page for the Canon Pixma MP450: 4 cents for black and 11 cents for color.
One major annoyance for us was the setup process for the OfficeJet 4315. Like most printers, it ships with CDs that include drivers and software. Setting up a printer is usually a matter of inserting the CD, clicking through a few options, and connecting the printer. Normally, this takes less than 5 minutes. With the OfficeJet 4315, though, this is a lengthy, 20-minute process--for the express install, no less (woe to anyone who chooses the full install). Luckily, this is mostly a hands-off process, but it's still ridiculously long. Both Mac and Windows operating systems are supported.The HP OfficeJet 4315 has limited features, which reflects its $100 price. When copying, you can make up to 80 copies and scale from 25 percent to 200 percent. When printing photos, you'll have to do so from your PC, as the OfficeJet 4315 lacks a PictBridge port and media card slots. You can make a couple of minor adjustments to photos directly from the print menu, such as remove red-eye or optimize the lighting. You can also print borderless 4x6 photos. The fax function boasts the most options. The machine can store up to 200 pages in memory, in case the input tray is empty when a fax comes in. You can store up to 80 speed dial numbers or send a broadcast fax. On the flip side, the OfficeJet 4315 also has a junk-fax barrier to block unwanted broadcast faxes coming from someone else. The Canon MP450 offers more options within each function, such as allowing for 2-to-1 or 4-to-1 printing or printing photos from a photo index sheet, though it lacks fax capability. Speed
The HP OfficeJet 4315 is not a stellar performer, either in speed or quality. It prints text pages at 4.14 pages per minute (ppm), and 4x6 photos at 0.49ppm. Scans are slow, too: it scans grayscale at 1.66ppm and color at 1.63ppm. Both the Lexmark X3350 and the Canon Pixma MP450 are faster at all these tasks. The only exception was copying: the OfficeJet 4315 was a speedy copier, with a rate of 5.08ppm.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Copy speed||Color scan speed||Grayscale scan speed||Photo speed||Text speed|
Quality is iffy, as well. On our tests, the text prints on cheap copy paper showed a lot of wicking, as evidenced by jagged edges, and switching to higher-quality inkjet paper helped only slightly. Text that was in bold or italics was shrouded with a slight shadow, and its edges weren't as clean as they could be.
The color graphics prints also suffered from poor quality. We saw a lot of blurring and smudged ink, and the text on this page looked even worse than the text on text-only pages. The color gradients showed banding, and the grayscale gradient was grainy. The photo elements were also grainy, though they showed decent color handling (flesh tones are a bit washed-out). And the printer couldn't handle bar code-type graphics, turning the distinct lines into a muddled mess. The 4x6 photos looked grainy to the naked eye, and colors were flat and washed-out.
The grayscale scan revealed compression in the extremes of the grayscale: details were lost in both the highlights and shadows. The OfficeJet 4315 did its best work with the color scan, surprisingly: it showed good detail and was decently sharp, but again, compression in the white end of the grayscale resulted in some lost detail.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Photo||Graphics on inkjet paper||Text on inkjet paper|