The 3800 Photo from HP, a stablemate of the 4850 Photo, is designed for users who want to digitally store their photos and negatives, but don't want to pay a high price. It's a good effort, although we weren't completely convinced by the construction.
Its glass cover looks alluring, but it's far from the toughest scanner lid we've ever seen. Like the 4850, the lid can hinge up, although not to anything like the same extent - slim books should be okay, but forget War and Peace.
Transparency adapters are almost obligatory on new scanners. However, it's still nice to see the relatively inexpensive 3800 offering such a facility as standard. You can scan up to three 10x15cm photos, or two 3.5mm slides/negatives at a time, which should prove more than enough for most users' needs.
The 3800 obviously lags behind its more-expensive relative when comparing specifications. However, with a highly satisfactory optical resolution of 2,400x4,800, this £58 scanner has nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of.
Pleasingly, the software is the same as that on the high-end 4850. In fact, the Image Zone suite (all 450MB of it) is better suited to the 3800. For a start, the software is particular in the way it lets you work and rather slows things down, which is unlikely to be as annoying for the less experienced scanner user. And the software is nothing if not fully featured.
The 3800 doesn't have the same faithful colour reproduction as the 4850, but it's still a fairly good performer, particularly when compared with rivals in its price range. It produced a 300dpi A4 print in just over 20 seconds.