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Built for portability, the Deskjet 3050 doesn't have much in the way of advanced features.

After you chuck aside the tote bag that the comes packed in, setup of the printer is actually quite easy. After you assemble the power cord and plug it in, you can install the ink cartridges in their slots by opening the grey door on the front of the printer. Once this is accomplished, you can continue with setup by installing the drivers disc, and either set your printer up to work as a shared printer over a wireless network, or dedicated machine via USB using the setup utility. Follow the instructions and setup should be accomplished quickly.

If you're a wire hater, you're in luck.

If you're a wire hater, you're in luck: The can make use of its onboard 802.11n wireless card to connect to your local network and be shared across multiple computers (provided the drivers are installed). If you do not have Wi-Fi, you can also install your drivers and use your printer as a dedicated device over a USB connection. There are no media slots worth describing on the front of the printer for DPOF or media card printing, but the does have a USB input in the back of the unit.

Due to the being fairly simple compared to other entry-level multifunction printers, the control interface is pretty self-explanatory. Located on the top of the printer, you can select which function you would like to use (scan, turn on wireless, etc.), or navigate the dot-matrix menu screen with the three option buttons.

If you like individual ink cartridges, look elsewhere.

The uses two ink cartridges: a black ink cartridge and a color cartridge. While this is a more or less standard feature on entry-level printers, it is a rather inefficient model of ink usage because if you run out of one color ink, the whole cartridge is now bound for the trash bin, including all that leftover ink. Needless to say, this does create a potential for wasted money down the line.

If you run out of one color ink, the whole cartridge is now bound for the trash bin.

Like many entry-level printers, the can't print on anything crazy like T-shirts or the like, but you can basically print on just about any sheet of paper that isn't more than 3 mm thick, or larger than executive-ruled paper. Common paper types supported are 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, letter, legal, ledger, tabloid, A4, and several envelope sizes.

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Overall, the color performance is weak on the , with average color accuracy and a somewhat smaller (but still acceptable) color gamut. It doesn't have the best detail in pictures either, but the worst errors we found were almost microscopic in scale. Still, it does show some artifacting in high-contrast situations.

Works for an entry-level multifunction on a budget, but not a high performer.

If you're looking for an affordable pickup of a printer that can perform the basic office functions and isn't terrible at printing photos, the is certainly worth a look. With good color accuracy, and the ability to fulfill several office functions, this printer is at home in a dorm or a low-use office.

That being said, it's important to remember that this printer isn't going to compete well with higher end models that are dedicated to the creation of professional prints, or multifunction printers that are designed to do it all: Remember, it's an entry level printer. To wit, the biggest shortcoming of the printer is the fact that it doesn't have the same level of internet support newer printers have, and that's a problem that won't go away. Additionally, relying on the wasteful CMY cartridge will waste money and ink in the long run.

Still, if you're looking for a basic printer that can accommodate a low workload well, the is a fantastic budget choice. It doesn't have many bells and whistles, but it is a bargain, and should fit the needs of a student or family fairly well if you're looking to save some money.

By the numbers, this is a thoroughly average printer, but that's not so much of a bad thing at its price point.

While not perfect, most consumers won't notice any color deficiencies.

By generating a user-made profile, the actually does a fairly decent job at maintaining a good level of color accuracy. While there isn't a pattern in which colors have the most error, the doesn't have any huge outliers, or particular colors that it just can't seem to produce well.

Able to reproduce just over 47% of the total color gamut measured, the does a fair job of reproducing a wide range of color values. While not ideal, you are very unlikely to notice any shortcoming of the being able to reproduce the colors you ask it to.


Moderately fast, especially for printing documents.

When you send a print command to the , you won't have to wait more than a few seconds before it starts working. Even over Wi-Fi, which can sometimes be a bit slower to transmit information than a USB cable, it does not keep you waiting.

If you elect to use your to print photos, you should be aware that you can expect to wait about 3.39 seconds for each square inch of your prints. Knowing that, it should be no surprise that 4 x 6-inch prints will take about 74 seconds per print to crank out, and longer for larger sizes.

If you're looking for a printer that is more likely to see service printing documents, the managed to roll out document pages at its best quality at a rate of 2.25 pages per minute. While this result doesn't set any speed records, the quality of the pages are quite good for what you could expect at that speed, so you should not be disappointed.

The HP Deskjet 3050 can produce deep blacks, but has trouble creating sharp edges.

It's important for a printer to have a deep black level to provide the widest range of contrast possible, and the higher the DMax measure is, the darker the black level. For the , this is not an area of measurable weakness, as it has a very good DMax measure of 2.93, meaning that your photos should not have any errors in shadows.

While the does have the tools available for good detail performance, it falls short in some areas. Namely, it does not seem to be able to create sharp edges, and it has some artifacts in shadow detail, which is perplexing in light of its high DMax measure.

Gradients seem to look fine, as they do not show much color banding or other visible errors, though there are tiny artifacts that become visible as the picture is blown up. While the doesn't struggle so much with larger pictures, smaller scans reveal some artifacting and loss of differentiation in high-contrast images.


Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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