Pros: The HP 3512 is light, has a small footprint, and the price is right.
Cons: Can't run USB and Wireless at the same time (at least not on its own)
I hate change. I really hate it when something complicated breaks, forcing me to replace it. Change and more change. Most of the world would replace a broken all-in-one printer as soon as the saw something similar at a good price. I waited nearly a year and a half. When I was still working, I’d e-mail important paperwork to work and print it there. After I retired, we moved to an apartment complex with business center privileges. Of course, that meant getting dressed and leaving my apartment for no other reason than to print out a form or shopping list. This was a bit of a printing barrier, especially on those days when I really didn’t feel “fit for public consumption.” Finally, while helping my husband shop for school fundraiser supplies at Walmart, I saw the HP 3512 All-in-One Wireless printer, priced at $69. Our youngest was with us to help with housework and driving while my husband’s fractured ankle healed, and so I had the extra push I needed to make a decision.
Most people can’t wait to hook up a new toy. I dreaded it. I’ve had my Dell Tower for eight years, and I was terrified that its fragile configuration would descend into chaos if I dared change out a peripheral. I waited nearly two days before I even opened the box.
One of my biggest surprises was how simple the installation process actually was. I plugged the HP 3512 into the same outlet on the surge suppressor where my old HP 7130 plug used to live, connected the USB cord to my hard drive, and let Microsoft’s Installation Wizard take over. Once that was done, HP launched a set-up tutorial that explained how to install the ink cartridges and calibrate the scanner.
Despite the ease of installation, I have a few problems with the HP 3512. Initially, I wondered where the manual was. I know that paperback manuals are passé in favor of the online “Read Me” files, but sometimes it would be nice to have something tangible to hold and read without squinting. The tutorial was fine for the basic set-up, but I would have had to open and search the “Read Me” file for things like making multiple copies, and zooming or shrinking documents. This is more my preference than an actual flaw. I admit that the controls on the LCD screen will walk you through tasks like multiple copies and scans.
Basic description: The HP 3512 is lightweight (about 10 pounds) and has a medium-to-small footprint (approximately 17 ¼” x 17” x 10”). This is nearly half the size of my old HP 7130.
When you open the box, you’ll find included with the printer your first ink cartridges (#61 Black and Tri-color), a software CD, a power supply and cord, a USB cable, and a poster that illustrates where all these things are packed and how to set them up. It was an interesting moment when I realized that everything was stuffed inside the carriage compartment. Until then, I expected to return to Walmart with my receipt and a request for all my missing equipment.
The HP 3512 has built-in wireless formats (HP ePrint, Wireless Direct, Apple AirPrint), but if you need to connect with USB (like me), you won’t have that feature. This was a disappointment to me because the box advertised that it would print documents sent by iPhone. This is important to remember if you want a printer that will work with an older desktop (without wireless technology) and laptops, tablets, or iPhones. The HP 3512 can be networked for use with more than one computer. It’s compatible with Windows XP,Vista, and 7 as well as Mac OS X, 10.6, and 10.7.
The input tray can hold as many as 60 sheets of paper, and the output tray holds up to 25 sheets of paper without damaging completed documents. This is good enough for most household printing; but if you have a home-based business, it may not be enough for your needs. HP recommends this for people who make about 400 impressions a month (copying and printing combined). It will print and copy on plain, inkjet, brochure (slick), and photo paper; envelopes; labels; greeting cards; and transparencies.
Things I will miss that my old HP 7130 did:
- Double-sided printing (I’ll be buying more paper rather than go through the tedious manual double-sided printing of the late ‘80s);
- Auto-feeding originals (my joy was to auto-feed a large document for scanning or making multiple copies); and
- Cropped scanning (if I wanted to scan a business card to PDF, I was able to crop out the rest of the scanning bed for a smaller file).
The HP 3512 scans a bit noisily but efficiently (except that the scan is automatically 8 ½ x 11). A test scan of a color coupon looked good and didn’t seem pixelated till magnified at 400%. The resolution goes up to 1200 x 1200 dpi.
Copies and prints are bright. The colors are rich and a very close match to the original. The print resolution is up to 600 dpi for black only and 4800 x 1200 dpi for color prints. It prints up to 20 pages per minute in black, 16 pages per minute in color. Copies are slower (3 copies per minute in color, 5 per minute in black) and have a resolution of 600 x 300 dpi.
One of the odd things I noticed within the first week: A plastic support that attaches the input tray back to the back side of the printer broke. I can't remember any incident that could have caused it. There were no earthquakes that I can recall. My only guess is that there was a stress crack that went unnoticed at the factory. This isn’t a big enough deal to me to call HP or Walmart. It doesn’t affect the operation of the printer. A little Crazy Glue will keep it in good shape until I find the best way to replace it without being forced to replace the entire thing of a piece of plastic.
Although I miss all the things my old HP 7130 did during its seven-year lifespan, I don’t really need to do those things now that I’m retired. When I got my workstation, the purpose was to match my office workstation to allow me to work at home without loss of productivity. Back then, I was doing heavy graphic scanning in high-resolution formats. Now, the biggest thing I’d be doing is retouching a family photo from my digital camera. The HP 3512 is good enough for home use – printing online coupons and shopping lists, photos, or scanning documents I want to save without paper clutter in the living room, etc. It would be a good student printer because of its low price.