Multi-function or all-in-one printers are useful tools for any office space. Understanding what options or features to look for when considering a new multi-function printer purchase, will help a buyer select a unit that will offer functionality and the best value. Typically, multi-function printers provide scanning, copying, and faxing capabilities, along with standard printer functions.
Some important printer features to consider are the speed at which the printer operates and the quality of the printed output should be considered when buying any printer.
Laser vs. Inkjet Depending on the medium you are using, a laser printer will typically produce higher quality prints and operate more efficiently than an inkjet printer in terms of cost per page. Generally a laser toner cartridge will cost more than an inkjet cartridge, however a laser cartridge will be the better value considering you will get anywhere from twice to in some cases ten times or more the number of printed pages per cartridge that with an inkjet cartridge. Laser printers will also typically print much faster than inkjet printers.
Cartridge Replacement Costs Consider the replacement cost of replacement ink or toner when buying a new printer. Take the time to compare the yield that can be expected from the ink or toner cartridge between the machines you are considering by dividing the cost of the cartridge by the expected yield. This will give you an estimated cost per page.
Print Speed For overall productivity, a print speed of at least 10 color pages per minute and 20 black and white pages per minute is a good minimum standard to look for as a print speed specification.
Print Quality Maximum resolution is an important factor when deciding on a printer. Print quality is measured in dots per inch. Printers with lower resolution settings produce lower quality print outs. Most black-and-white printers should have a minimum resolution of 600 x 600 dots per inch. Black-and-white resolutions of 2400 x 1200 will produce high-quality prints. A good minimum standard resolution for color printing is 1200 x 1200, and a resolution of 4800 x 2400 will produce excellent-quality color printouts.
Duty Cycle The duty cycle is the maximum number of pages that should be printed per month for a printer. Machines that will be used in a large office setting should have a high duty cycle in the 20,000 to 25,000-page range. A home printer with a monthly duty cycle of 5,000 pages is probably sufficient for most users. Determine approximately how many pages you will print per month and then find a printing that can withstand the amount of use it will get.
Scanner Resolution The output quality of a scanned/copied page also depends on possible resolution. Keep in mind what it is you will be scanning. In house copies require a lower resolution than graphs and images. A minimum resolution of 1200 x 600 is necessary for high quality reproductions, while a scanner resolution of 4800 x 4800 will produce excellent quality images.
Copy Speed The speed at which copies of a scanned image are produced is also important, affecting productivity just as with a slower print speed. A copy speed of at least 25 pages per minute is a good baseline for an all-in-one printer.
Copied Document Sizing Having the ability to shrink or enlarge an image directly from the scanner is a good feature to have in a multifunction printer. Document resizing from 25 percent to 400 percent is a common specification for most copier printers.
Automatic Document Feeder Whether copying or sending a fax, manually placing each page of a document on a scanner platform individually is not very efficient. A document feeder allows you to place a stack of papers to be copied or faxed on a feeder tray to be automatically scanned by the machine. An automatic document feeder should be matched with a suitable amount of fax memory.
Page Memory Page memory represents how many pages can be scanned and held in memory as a document is received, faxed or copied. This can represent multiple documents or faxes from or to multiple locations either faxes numbers, the scanner or computers on a network. For most black and white printers 32MB and 64MB of RAM is recommended. For most color laser printers, 128 MB of RAM is recommended.
Fax Page Speed A multifunction printer should have the capability to send a fax page in under 5 seconds.
Wi-Fi or Network Connectivity A Wi-Fi-compatible multifunction printer can be configured to function securely in a home or business network that has wireless capabilities. If wireless is not available, a multifunction printer that has a built-in network card can be wired to an available port on the network can eliminate the need to share the printer from a network PC.