The Colour LaserJet CM3530fs is a mix-and-match of features from low- and high-end office multifunctions, combined with mid-range quality and speed. There are some flaws in the design and basic functionality of this machine, but the CM3530fs remains a competitively priced alternative to full-size photocopiers.
Automatic duplex is standard on the machine, as well is an integrated fax and a Gigabit Ethernet-equipped print server. The unit also comes with an 80GB hard drive, making it suitable for networked job storage and scan shares.
As is the craze with all technology from mobile phone to washing machines, the CM3530fs employs a touch screen. It isn't the first time we have seen a touch screen on anything something than a full-size photo copier — even Epson's Stylus Photo TX800FW has one — and its inclusion here makes sense. It isn't always as responsive as we would like it to be during operation, however.
Apart from some minor issues with the touch panel, the only other problem we have with the CM3530fs is its media capacity. The standard configuration supports a paper input capacity of up to 350 sheets at one time. Even if this is stretched to its maximum of 850 sheets through an additional paper tray, it still falls short of reasonable expectations for a small to medium office. At a suggested monthly duty cycle of 75,000 pages, the CM3530fs can certainly handle a lot of printing, but the input capacity is restrictive.
As with most multifunctions of the same calibre, the CM3530fs can be configured directly from the unit or through its Web-based interface. However, if you want to study the printer's settings, you need to print out three or four pages of information. This isn't surprising for printers and multifunctions with small LCDs, but given this particular unit's large colour LCD panel we are unsure as to why the configuration information isn't displayed directly on the screen.
For most users, the Web-based interface will be the weapon of choice and it is here the CM3530fs performs admirably. As we have come to expect from network-enabled HP multifunctions, the CM3530fs provides a comprehensive set of statistics and settings for administrators and users. The interface offers access to job storage options, network security settings, automatic e-mail alerts and colour level configuration. It gives administrators the ability to easily monitor and configure the multifunction from afar.
Though the CM3530fs fails to meet the speed standards set by HP's LaserJet P4515x standalone printer, its speed is still fast. Both mono and colour documents printed at 30 pages per minute, with an average first-page-out time of 15.9 seconds when the unit is in ready mode. The print speed for colour documents was inconsistent. At times we could achieve an average rate of 30ppm, but more often than not we found toner calibration and warm-up time meant that colour documents would print at an average of 11.8ppm. The CM3530fs employs the same ImageRET3600 half-toning technology found in other HP multifunctions at the same price point, resulting in decent quality. The unit does not offer the same line density settings found on HP's similarly priced standalone printers, but the output is still reasonable. Text is extremely clear, with no sign of the feathering that can be found on low-end laser printers. Colour is very accurate on the whole and, in general, vibrant. One major flaw we did discover was the printer's inability to properly print black on blue; text is still readable, but the characters aren't solidly black.
Despite half-toning technology, the CM3530fs won't do the best photo print job, but good quality text documents and decent colour quality in most aspects make it a decent candidate for office printing.
There are three different scanning options: scan to e-mail, hard drive or network share. The scanner is limited to a hardware resolution of 600dpi, which is suitable for text and some graphical scanning. Results are acceptable, and don't present any issues with colour accuracy.