Multifunctional printers

If you have a home office and space is rather limited for all of your peripherals, you may want to look into multifunctional printers. The quality of these multifunctional office products has really increased over the last few years and CNET has comprehensive reviews of five new multifunctional printers. From the CNET page:

An all-in-one printer gives you the freedom to complete multiple projects with the same printer, scanner, and copier, and fax machine all built into one central device. Most multifunction inkjet and laser printers also include front-loading media readers that let you print directly from your digital camera’s storage card without the need for a physical computer in the middle. If you do choose to hook it up to your desktop, you’re given a number of options for connectivity, with many printers featuring a build in 802.11b/g wireless print server, Ethernet networking, and of course the standard USB 2.0 port.Prices range from around $150 all the way up to $400 for extra features like multi-ink cartridge bays, increased dots per inch (DPI) results, and large format touch screens for advanced photo editing. Whether you need these auxiliary features or just want to perform simple print, fax, scan, and copy functions, an all-in-one printer makes a useful companion to your home or office workstation.

The dilemma with multifunctional devices is what to do if one of the functions breaks. You can either replace the whole unit or make due without that particular function. One must weigh the use of all the functions versus the space-saving advantages of a multifunctional printer. If you are going to make use of all functions, including the fax machine (does anyone still use a fax?), it may be for you. But if you are only going to use a couple of the functions, you should probably pass.

The multifunctional printers named in the article:

16 Comments for “Multifunctional printers”

  1. posted by N on

    Instead of getting a fax machine you can sign up for a fax service online that simply requires a scanner. There are various plans based on how many faxes you intend to send a receive and it seems to be more effective than purchasing a separate phone line and machine for faxes.

  2. posted by Spencer on

    It’s also worth keeping in mind that “Jack of all trades, master of none” tends to apply with multi-function printers. Whilst they will save space, they won’t necessarily do as good a job as dedicated devices. Also, multifunctions are almost all inkjet printers, which are considerably more expensive to run (and slower to print) than laser printers.
    If you feel the space-saving benefits outweigh that, then you should be perfectly happy with a multifunction printer, but just keep it in mind when you’re considering one.
    Of course, if you’re a regular Unclutterer reader, then you’re probably an advocate of going paperless – so it’s worth thinking about whether you even really need one of these paper-generating machines…

  3. posted by timgray on

    I found that the BEST multifunction printers are actually from Epson right now.

    I had bought an epson workforce 600 as a test and discovered that it works so well we ran out and bought 2 more for the office. Print, scan,fax,copy. Plus it has Wifi and ethernet so you dont have to have it next to the computers to use it.

    Finally my favorite 2 things. Ink is dirt cheap, and the drivers dont install 600 different apps to “help” you like the HP junk does.

    I stopped buying HP because of quality and ink costs. I have had too many HP printers fail or require special software to set it up. Lexmark has the highest ink cost. you can pay for the printer again by simply buying a set of ink for it.

    My wife loves the printer because it has a document feeder on it. she simply fills the top with documents, walks over to the couch and scans everything to PDF for filing while lounging with a blanket and a hot macbook and cocoa.

  4. posted by Dock on

    I’ve always recommended against multi-function printer/scanners. They are poor quality for both functions and I find that they’re generally very space hogging! In space limited areas I tend to leave an exposed USB cable and plug in a Canoscan LIDE scanner as and when I need it, it is USB powered after all. The ability to relocate it is very useful if you’re scanning a lot of things and need to be seated comfortably.

    Those scanners can also be oriented vertically, but I’ve never used that facility:

    As for printers, because they are a passive activity they can be located in a much more convenient place away from your desktop. Wireless printers are especially useful too.

  5. posted by gypsy packer on

    BTDT with the HP’s–good machine meets planned obsolescence via driver updates which conflict with MS.
    I’ve had no problems with my bottom-of-the-line Epson, except that cartridges will report empty when they’ve been little-used at all, and that they don’t like refills. Chip resetters and/or tape on the contacts will solve that little problem!

  6. posted by Imrcly on

    I have an hp all in one printer, because I have my desktop hooked to my TV with a wireless keyboard and mouse. The printer matches the rest of the equipment in my TV stand (DVR, Stereo, Mac Mini, Wii) and is only taking up space that was unpurposed when I purchased it. It was a cheap alternative to getting a scanner to clear out all those order forms, unread documents and old photos and a printer I need with my home business for the rare hard copy of an invoice. I am glad I purchased it and only regret not getting the wireless version so I could put it in a spare room.

  7. posted by Chris on

    I recently got an HP at work. It is a HP Color LaserJet CM1312 MFP Series PCL 6. The hardware is good. It prints very well. The software is bloated and, in my opinion, terrible.

  8. posted by allen on

    I used to work at Best Buy, so let me say this: Don’t buy a lexmark, their ink is used up the fastest, and costs the most!

  9. posted by Nicole on

    For students, I would definitely recommend a printer/scanner/copier combo; HP used to make ones that don’t take up much room (plus, if you only put paper in it when you need it, you can fold up the printer tray). I’ve had mine for four years. Granted, it’s not the best for photos and not the fastest, but it’s fast print function helps. The scanner/copier part is a flatbed, which is great if you need to copy a page out of a book or something. Most students generally don’t use fax machines, anyway.

    Other printers I’ve used are a canon (which I still love), and my Epson, which was horrible. It made decent pictures, but it printed slooooowly (think an hour for 30 pages) and sounded like it was dying every time I turned it on.

  10. posted by Greg on

    I have nothing good to say about the All-in-Ones (or All-in-None based on quality issues). A scanner, printer, and WinFax Pro will take care of all your home office needs. $100 for a scanner, an HP 6p (the last great printer HP made) and you are set. If you need more than that, consider a networked copy machine.

  11. posted by luisa on

    I have an all-in-one from Epson (no fax), cost about $30 after some rebate, have had it for at least 2 years now, well worth the money. I have started to use 3rd party ink, dirty cheap. Print quality is plenty good for home use, even the photo printing is pretty decent.

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  13. posted by John Kelly on

    I use an ordinary scanner that I keep on top of a shelf – my laser printer is on a shelf next to my desk. Whenever I need to scan I just put it on my desk, plug it in and scan. This makes it easier to use and slso doesn’t take up any prime space when not in use.

  14. posted by Battra92 on

    Not really practical for everyone, obviously, but my work is switching over to one big Xerox machine instead of a printer on every desk. We get some flack from users but it saves the company money and they gain desk space (which they don’t seem to be as happy about as I thought.)

  15. posted by jeremy on

    I have had the same Canon multifunction for about 5 years now (which is decades in printer terms) and I love it. It is a freaking beast. It always works. Really its just a copier, printer and scanner, but it lets me do so much. I scan magazine articles into my laptop and then get rid of the magazines to cut down on that clutter.

    I’d recommend it to anyone!

  16. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    We bought a MFD (hp) during July. The first one was the statistical dud but its replacement seems to be ok. It has come in handy for me to scan old magazine articles, copy “blanks” I have to write on but don’t want to write on the original “master” in case I make a mistake and yes, fax, rental applications for places in our new location 1,000 km from our old place.

    The only issues I’ve had with it is when scanning – using a USB flash drive it can only cope with a certain number of pages before its internal memory runs out and it can no longer hold the info to write the file to the drive; it used to talk to my computer (Vista) but for some unknown reason stopped so I can’t scan direct from my computer.

    It isn’t wireless but it connects to our wireless router / modem so we can use it with our laptops. Despite the scanning problems, it still talks to my laptop for printing purposes.

    On the plus side it can save scans as PDF files, which the old Epson flat-bed scanner can’t. We’re keeping the old Epson at this stage for scanning slides as the new hp doesn’t have a slide holder.

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