HP Deskjet 9300 review
A jack of all trades and master of none. With disappointing performance and build quality, the 9300 is left looking distinctly average.
Review Date: 15 Sep 2003
Reviewed By: David Fearon
Price when reviewed: (£250 inc VAT); Delivery £5 (£6 inc VAT)
HP calls the 9300 a 'solid performer', and with its business-like, two-tone grey case it's difficult to disagree. This kind of printer could only be labelled with a word like 'solid' - both the design and performance are about as far from exciting as you can get.
Okay, so the speed on everyday A4 correspondence is good enough, but our tests still didn't bear out the 14ppm Draft and 7ppm Normal speeds that HP claims. Our 25-page business document test took seven minutes, 11 seconds to complete under the Normal settings - just under 3.5ppm. Dropping down to Draft mode increased this to just under 9ppm, but the quality in this mode isn't good enough for anything but internal use, with distorted verticals and poor definition.
Moving up to A3 tells a similar tale, again with reasonable speeds, but nothing spectacular. A full-page colour CorelDRAW graphic took six minutes, 36 seconds on the Best settings, although the quality was difficult to fault, with consistent, well-reproduced solid tones and grain-free, band-free graduations. An A3 presentation chart in Normal mode popped out in three minutes, 11 seconds with plain paper results that would be perfectly acceptable for a flip-chart presentation.
Photos come out well too, with no obvious banding, although the 9300 can't do borderless prints. The results were also quite grainy compared with Canon's i9100 (see issue 107, p69), and the four colour inks can't deliver a perfect colour gamut.
Performance is solid but nothing exceptional, and the same can be said for build quality. The 9300 follows the same basic build template as smaller Deskjets but, unlike the A4 models, the output tray is designed as a separate snap-in affair that can fold upwards while the input tray slides into the body. This reduces the overall depth by about a foot when not loaded with A3+ paper, but the output tray is flexible and makes the whole unit feel flimsy.
All of this makes the 9300's market difficult to pin down. Despite its 5,000 pages per month duty-cycle rating and low colour running costs, high-volume colour proofing will be better served by a colour laser, while normal offices and home offices would be better off with a faster laser or cheaper A4 inkjet.
Author: David Fearon
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