Photosmart is Hewlett Packard's series of multifunction colour inkjet printers, and the HP C3100 is the entry model into that all-in-one line-up. In addition to the standard C3100, there are two sub-models: the C3100se and the C3100xi. The C3100se simply includes the Design Office Limited software, and the C3100xi includes Cardiris LE, a business card scanner. Otherwise, all of these machines are quite similar. They have an instant-on feature, print at 6 pages per minute, copy at 6 pages per minute, fax at 6 seconds per page, have a 25.6 MHz processor and 2 MB of memory. The C3100 only supports doubles-sided printing manually, and the duty cycle is 6,000 pages printed and 2,000 pages scanned. Both the input tray and output tray have a 100 sheet capacity, and black HP C3100 ink yields 2,500 pages.
For the C3100, HP uses a flat, sturdy design that is perfect for the home office, and it employs a two-tone colour scheme: bright white and light grey. On the face of the device, where the output tray is, HP has place the power button, memory card slot, the Photosmart Express button and the Proof Sheet button. Above that, on the top, is the control panel, which has a series of buttons and indicators, and while it doesn't have an LCD display, HP has configured it well, and it's relatively simple to use. There are some issues with the design: it's prone to paper jams, and you generally have to sit or crouch to use it.
The biggest benefit to the HP C3100 is that it gives you everything - colour printing, copying, faxing, and scanning - all at an extremely affordable price. You're simply not going to find many machines with this scope of functionality geared toward the home user at this price point. Also important is that the HP C3100 cartridges are cheap, and they provide good page yields.
The HP C3100 certainly gives you a lot of versatility, and the printer prints text extremely well and photos reasonably well. But beyond that, the HP C3100 does not shine. It is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Therefore, while it is an excellent option for people who print seldom and want flexibility, it is not a good option for those who will print regularly and put demands on their device. In addition, the small processor and the small amount of non-upgradeable memory cause this machine to behave sluggishly on anything but the smallest print jobs.