At a Glance
- Inexpensive; impressive print quality
- Wireless networking and ADF standard
- Copies, scans, and prints photos slowly
- Costly inks
It offers SOHO users a lot of features for the price, but it’s slow, and the inks can be costly.
HP’s OfficeJet J4680 is a $130 (as of August 4, 2008) multifunction color inkjet printer that gives small- and home-office users a reasonable helping of business features at a really low price. Unfortunately, it falls short in speed and long-term economy.
The OfficeJet J4680’s star attractions are its integrated 802.11b/g wireless and fax connectivity, and its 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF)–rare features on such a low-priced machine. Those features make up somewhat for the minimalist 100-sheet input tray, which doubles as a 20-sheet output tray–yes, printed pages drop right on top of any blank paper you have loaded. I dislike this design: there’s too much going on in one place.Duplexing (two-sided printing) is not available. The similarly priced Dell V305W lacks an ADF or faxing, but it has separate input and output trays, and supports manual duplexing.
The control panel of the OfficeJet J4680 consists of a one-line monochrome LCD and a second line of simple arrows that point to function labels beneath the display. You use the two navigation buttons to choose a major function and to drill through the menus. This system is easy to use–except that longer messages scroll across the display like ticker tape, making them hard to read.
In our tests, the OfficeJet J4680 delivered good-quality output at adequate speeds. It printed plain-text pages at a rate of 7 pages per minute and graphics pages at 2.1 ppm or worse. On plain paper, text looked dark, crisp, and precise; color images looked natural though somewhat grainy. On HP’s own photo paper, color images improved, acquiring a smooth and natural appearance. Scans and copies looked okay, but scans came out very slowly.
The OfficeJet J4680’s ink costs are reasonably good–and far better than those of the Dell V305W. The machine ships with a standard 200-page black cartridge and a 360-page tricolor cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridge. Both cartridges yield consumables costs of around 7 cents per page. A high-yield (700-page) black cartridge costs $28 (approximately 4 cents per page).
The OfficeJet J4680 might be too slow to show well in our rankings, but it’s still a nice machine. A small office that doesn’t do much printing would probably be happy to have the OfficeJet J4680’s feature set in such a compact, low-cost package. HP’s performance in our recent Reliability and Service survey was average.