All in One Printers Buying Guide
Uses of Multifunction printers
If you are running a business then you should think about all-in-one printers that combines fax technology to help you keep in touch. You might also think about a device with optical character recognition (OCR) that can help you scan documents into your computer for editing later and a machine with an automatic document feeder for consecutive scanning or faxing.
Used Ink: The price of replacement ink cartridges will have a significant effect on running costs for an inkjet-based all-in-one. The high prices have seen a small industry spring up in the refill market with 50 per cent savings to be made. However, continual refilling may eventually have an effect on the printer and may cause some conflict with manufacturer's warranties. Avoid color cartridges that combine three colors - when one runs out you have to throw away what remains in the other two sections.
toner cartridges: toner cartridges for laser-based all-in-ones can be more expensive initially but last longer which brings eventual running costs down. Glossy Paper sheets for photographic images, 6" by 4" for prints, plain white for copying, heavier weights for business cards - most all-in-ones can handle a variety of paper types and sizes. Specific paper is available for inkjet printing to reduce "bleeding".
Laser: A laser printer tends to be faster than an inkjet and while toner cartridges for laser printer are more expensive than ink, they last a lot longer. Laser printers generally give clearer and sharper text reproduction and may be better for handling envelopes, cards and non-standard paper sizes.
Resolution: This may vary for the different elements but in the case of the copier, printer and scanner the key measurement is dots per inch (DPI). Simply put, the higher the DPI, the greater the detail that is likely to be reproduced. DPI may vary for black and color printing. Additional proprietary technologies may be used by individual manufacturers to improve resolution. Maximum black and white printing resolutions on inkjet printers vary from 600x600 DPI to 1200x6000 DPI.
Consumables: There is a reasonably close correlation between the low price of some machines and their high running costs that means that some machines are not the bargains they might at first seem. A higher-priced machine with a lower running cost in terms of ink cartridges is likely to pay for itself pretty quickly. Comparing costs can be difficult but will save you significant amounts on even average usage.
Inkjet: The original advantage of the inkjet printer was that it could reproduce color when only very expensive laser options could. That price differential has all but disappeared, but inkjet technology can now produce photographic quality outputs. Print speeds and text quality can be lower than laser-based versions and running costs can be considerably higher. An inkjet is the right choice for all-round use.
Monochrome or color: All-in-one printers with monochrome (most common among laser-printer types) may well have color scanners but are only able to print in black and white. Most inkjet printers are able to print in color and black and white, but some cheaper inkjet printers can print both but not at the same time. If you want to print a page which contains black and white text and color images you will need an inkjet printer with four colors.
Bit-depth: The higher the bit-depth of a scanner, the higher the quality of the scan. Most color scanners are 24-bit and collect 8 bits of information about each of the three primary colors red, green and blue. This gives excellent quality. scanners with 30 or 36 bits are also available.
Memory: All-in-one printer require printer memory to store and process information while printing. Measured in megabytes (MB), the more memory the device has the faster it will print. PictBridge Allows you to transfer images from the memory card in a digital camera directly to a compatible all-in-one printer without a computer or photo diting software. Print size and layout can be set using the controls and the LCD on the camera.
PictBridge: is becoming the standard for digital image transfers and replacing proprietary solutions.
Drivers: Usually supplied with the software for the machine, a printer driver controls the communication between your computer and the all-in-one printer. Updates to drivers are commonly made available from the manufacturer's web sites.
Twin-sided printing: Sometimes called duplex mode means you can print double-sided documents.
Maximum printing speeds: Print speeds (usually expressed in pages per minute) for all-in-one printers will vary so if they are going to be important to you, you should compare competing models. Most models on the market will print between 20 and 25 black and white pages per minute. Color pages will take longer depending on the quality selected.
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