Thursday, May 5, 2016

Multifunction Printers Buying Guide

Print, copy, scan ...

Combine two, three or four devices into one is the bet won multifunction printers, the price in permanent decline. But before you equip yourself, ask yourself the right questions to find the model you need: how many pages of text, documents with graphics or pictures you want to print each month? With what level of quality? Is print speed decisive? Will you be one or several to use? Do you already have a scanner? The fax function is it really necessary?

Single function, multifunction or 4 in 1?
As it allows to do other things as printing, printer  becomes ... Multifunction. Scanner, copier, photo printer thanks to the presence of fax cards and readers are now common features for these devices increasingly popular with consumers.

The benefits of multifunction abound. These include firstly the space savings enabled by a combination of several devices into one unit. The size is a bit larger than that of a traditional printer , but remains interesting in view of the multiplicity of functions. Especially since many power connectors and cables disappear at the same time!

The second benefit is financial, since the price of a multifunction will always be lower than, cumulatively, of all the devices it replaces. Specifically, if the rates range between 50 and 450 € for a typical use, you will certainly find the features that suit you between 80 and 200 €.

Finally, some features, such as photocopying or printing photos from a map, are accessible without turning on the PC.

Inkjet or laser?
The printer ink jets have the advantage of being versatile, they can just as easily print office documents (text and color graphics) as photos on glossy paper at size 10 × 15. They are compact and power consumption is low compared to laser printers. The noise mechanisms during printing can be annoying, but then the printer is silent.

Another strong point of the ink jets to the general public: their selling price! The models colors are more affordable (from € 40) that color laser printers (from 100 €). If you can ignore color, monochrome laser printers are a bit more accessible. But the purchase price is to be compared with the cost of printing. The cost per page for ink-jet printers are far from the figures announced by the manufacturers, only intensive use allows to get closer by limiting the use of ink to clean the print heads. If you use just your printer, you will be regularly invited to perform a thorough cleaning of the print heads to prevent them from clogging. These cleaning cycles are very greedy ink. Thus, as we were able to check when a specific test , unless you print, the more it costs you dearly.

Printers lasers are known for their productivity: their printing speed is high, the toner has a larger capacity than the ink cartridges and the paper tray has a larger pool, the less time is lost recharge. More oriented towards office use, laser printers are designed to print photos - anyway, they do not accept very thick papers such as premium photo papers. Finally, these models are bulky, especially color lasers , and the noise of the ventilation is permanent (until the printer is turned on), although discreet. Laser technology requires heat to fuse the toner to the paper, resulting in a power consumption much higher than that of ink jet printers. The lasers are designed for more intensive use as ink jet, which is why companies and associations are mainly equipped with laser printers. It remains to consider the consumables other than paper and ink when printing really much: drum, oven, printhead ...

Based on a very different printing technology ink jet, laser printers do not use toner to perform regular cleanings, and there is no risk of ending up with a mouthful printhead preventing any impression. However, the price of toners is quite high. In return, they can print many more pages an ink cartridge. Laser printers print costs are generally lower than those of ink jet printers. Lasers are thus more profitable long-term.

Printers that use the technology of thermal sublimation or thermal transfer models are mainly dedicated to photo printing at size 10 × 15cm. These small photo printers operate with heat tape kits containing a given number of prints (ink and paper included). The cost per page are controlled (between 30 and 50 cents per picture 10 × 15), while remaining higher than the impressions from the terminals in stores or online photo sites. These printers are monot√Ęches: apart from your photo prints 10 × 15, it will complete your equipment with an inkjet or laser printer for office documents.

Resolution, speed and cost per page: War figures
The first criteria to consider in choosing a multifunction is the print quality. If it is not measured, it theoretically varies by resolution , expressed in dots per inch (ppi or dpi, for "dots per inch" in English). The printer basic ink jets should be at 4800 × 1200 dpi for quality quite acceptable, but up to 5760 × 1440 dpi will not need to print photos, which will generate a small additional cost. Laser printers have lower resolutions, but office documents emerged with neat characters.

In the same spirit, the  quality of the scanner  must also be taken into account. Check the resolution announced by the manufacturer, knowing it will probably be a resolution "interpolated" and not a resolution "optical" (interpolation is to add intermediate pixels between the actual pixels, calculating the average color of pixels around). With a resolution of 1200 × 2400 dpi, you scan with good quality photos of 10 × 15 cm and can enlarge up to 1.5 times without degrading the rendering to the eye. Of course, as regards the copier function, the effectiveness will depend on the previous two criteria.

Unfortunately, the resolution is not the only setting that takes into account the print quality: the paper, software, ink are also involved, for example, a high resolution does not guarantee the respect of colors. no fault in degraded ...

The printing speed may also be a selective criterion if you use intensively printer. In this case, we must not forget that the number of pages per minute is often indicated for drafts pages (reduced quality) in black and white: the scores will be much lower in highest quality and in color. To more easily compare print speeds from one model to another, a recent standard was created, ISO / IEC 24734, but it is not mandatory. Rely therefore the speed reference to this standard to have more realistic figures. Do not be surprised to see some models claim maximum speeds print more than 30 pages per minute while the "ISO speed" is only 10 pages per minute.

The cost per page are easily calculated retrospectively by dividing the purchase price by the number of pages printed but before buying, you can refer to when the information is available, the number of page for which the cartridges or toners are planned. However, it is rare to achieve the amounts announced. First, it depends on the type of document you print: the more text and images, the more you reduce the number of potential impressions with your cartridges or toner. Then you have to consider your habits: if you print occasionally with your printer ink jets, cleaning the printheads will waste a large part of your ink supply to each ignition. Laser printers do not carry out this type of cleaning, so there is no additional cost in occasional use with a laser printer.

To reduce costs to the page, there are several options: buy XL cartridges, favor printers with separate color cartridges reduce print quality, change the print font (Garamond is more efficient ink than Times New Roman ), print only the essentials (remove ads, images ...), reduce the document to print (2 pages reduced on 1 sheet), testing of compatible cartridges , etc. And, with the ink jet printers must print regularly to prevent the print heads become clogged, under penalty of having to perform more extensive cleanings fond ink.

Note that to view a reduced sales price, the printers are sometimes sold with starter cartridges that contain less ink or toner than standard versions you buy later.

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