Multifunctional Devices- Best fitBuying Guides in Printers

Looking for a multifunctional device for the home or the office is always daunting. Hence, we should ask our self what sort of functionality we require. Maybe we don't need a fax machine? Maybe a memory card reader is not required? Maybe we don't need a network adapter? Asking our self these sorts of questions will narrow down our search for a machine and will also allow us to save money by not purchasing a device with features that we don't need. Therefore, it is a good idea to estimate the maximum number of pages per month we need to print, and buy a printer that can handle the workload. Printer manufacturers often provide maximum monthly duty cycle figures that gives us a rough idea of how much a printer can handle in a given time period. Depending on our needs, we can then select an appropriate device from the market.

Factors to consider

Type

An important factor to consider when purchasing a multifunction device is whether we need inkjet or laser. Inkjet multifunction printers are generally much cheaper to purchase and are better suited to print photos. Laser multifunction printers, on the other hand, are much more expensive, but provide better quality documents at a much faster rate. Though the initial outlay and subsequent consumables will cost more, laser printers can also have a lower running cost than inkjets, as toners generally have a higher yield.

Printing speed

Since print speed is the easiest performance indicator on a multifunction to quantify, it is also the most-used weapon in the marketing war among vendors. Although the speed of multifunction devices (especially for photo printing) has improved in the last few years, there is still substantial difference between devices. While some multifunction devices can print full-colour A4-size photographs in 35 seconds, others take up to 5 minutes, and the results are often worlds apart in terms of quality.

Print and scan resolution

Like speed, print and scan resolution specifications can often be misleading. Inkjet multifunction printers can boast maximum colour print resolutions of up to 9600x4800 dots per inch (dpi), though this is not always the resolution of the scan engine. Many devices use software to interpolate an image, smooth and sharpen colour, and generally optimize a picture to provide an image with a higher resolution than the scan engine itself. Ink droplet size can often be a good way to determine an inkjet multifunction device's ability to handle fine detail when printing; better printers offer droplet sizes as low as 0.5 picolitres, while lower-end printers have droplets of 1.5-2 picolitres.
On the other hand, laser multifunction devices offer a print resolution of 600x600dpi. If we're after better quality results from a laser multifunction, be sure to note if the device has half-toning capability. This allows it to produce higher quality documents than printers that have the same hardware print resolution. Laser multifunctions are generally designed to work with text documents, so their optical scan resolutions are often lower than Inkjet multifunction. Expect an average resolution of 600x600dpi, with some higher-end laser multifunction devices managing 600x2400dpi. Most low-end inkjet multifunction devices have an optical scan resolution of 1200x600dpi, but some of the more expensive models can scan at 9600x4800dpi (a resolution generally used for scanning film negatives or 35mm slides).

Media Handling

The amount of paper a multifunction printer can handle in both input and output trays is worth considering, even if we're buying one for home. Some of the more expensive inkjet multifunction printers offer several paper input methods, such as paper cassette. Some also offer separate input trays, specifically for 4x6 in media (for printing photos). For businesses, media handling is vital to ensure that we have enough paper to get through a large document and that we don't have to continually refill supplies. Most low-end laser multifunction printers, and even some of the more expensive devices, can only fit 250 sheets at a time in the input tray. Many small to medium businesses require in excess of 500-1000 sheets at a time. Even if we don't need the extra paper capacity immediately, make sure to consider whether the vendor offers increased media handling through optional trays. Also, be aware of the supported paper types on various multifunction devices. Most inkjet multifunction devices support standard A4-size paper, though may not print well on transparencies. Similarly, photo paper may not work so well in high-end inkjet multifunction devices, which use pigment-based inks. Since laser multifunction devices are designed for text and graphics printing, they tend to handle glossy paper poorly; again, this differs from model to model. Be sure to check the specifications for a list of supported paper types.

Connectivity

We will find that many multifunction devices offer more than one form of connectivity. Beyond the basic USB 2.0 port, see if the multifunction offers an Ethernet connection and integrated Wi-Fi, so that we can share it across a network. Also, be sure to check that the memory card reader (if it has one) on the multifunction device is compatible with the card format we use for our camera or mobile phone. Many inkjet multifunction printers have one type of memory card slot. High-end models often ship with a built-in memory card reader that supports Compact Flash, SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MMC and xD Picture Card formats. Laser multifunctions do not tend to offer slots for removable media, but some mid- to high-end models do offer direct printing from USB flash drives.

Security

There is no real security issue when dealing with a multifunction device connected to a PC through USB 2.0. However, networked printers can jeopardize the security of personal documents and files, particularly in larger offices. Higher-end laser multifunction devices offer various security features to combat this, including document encryption, password-protected printing, and scan boxes for individual users. Some also offer 802.1X authentication and Web-based security features to ensure that no-one can tamper with settings.

Size

Size can be a major reason to pick one multifunction device over another. MFDs (Multifunction Devices) come in many shapes, so a unit's dimension is not always an accurate way to determine whether our chosen multifunction will fit in the desired space. Instead, we should have a look at the unit in real life and then check the suitability. Inkjet multifunctions are often not very big, while Laser multifunctions are generally quite sizeable, and extras like an automatic document feeder can cause them to be even taller. As a result, we may not be able to place the multifunction in our desired location.

Noise

A number of things can contribute to the noise of a multifunction printer, including paper feeders, rollers; eject mechanisms, and the build quality of the machine itself. In some poorer quality multifunction devices, the printer can shake while in operation. The way the ink is fed also contributes to noise. Hence, it is best to test the device before buying, in order to determine whether the noise levels are acceptable.

Warranty

Most multifunction devices have a minimum warranty period of one year. Some companies offer extensions of up to three years, and many retailers offer extended warranties that allow us to replace the device up to five years after purchase.

Costs

Ongoing costs are only part of the story when considering a multifunction, but if we are trying to decide between laser and inkjet, the laser will almost always be cheaper. Cheaper multifunction devices often have higher running costs than more expensive printers. If we require an inkjet multifunction, but are worried about the running costs, look for an office-focused model, as they generally have cheaper consumables than those designed for home use.

Therefore, considering the above mentioned factors, we can make a best buy whether it is Inkjet or a Laser multifunction device; no matter if it is for home or office use.