An all-in-one printer is a useful tool for both the office and the home computer room. Knowing what features to look for when considering a new all-in-one printer purchase can allow you to purchase a unit that will be more suited to your needs. Some printer features benefit all of the printer’s functions, while others make an individual function, such as faxing, more productive. In this guide, the 15 most important features to look for in an all-in-one printer are discussed. The description of each feature also describes the specific function of the machine that is enhanced by that feature.
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All-in-One Printer Features to Look For
Typically, all-in-one printers or multifunction printers provide scanning, copying, and faxing capabilities, along with standard printer functions. The features a particular buyer may desire depend, in part, on the functions that are most important to the buyer. This portion of the guide is divided into separate sections for each of the important functions to look for in an all-in-one printer.
Key Printer Features to Consider
The speed at which the printer operates and the quality of the printed output are important factors to consider when buying any printer. However, speed and quality are not the only considerations. Look for a multifunction printer that offers the following features for the printer itself.
1. Print Speed
A print speed of at least 10 color pages per minute and 20 black-and-white pages per minute is a minimum standard to look for as a print speed specification. Waiting for something to print is not only frustrating, but also reduces your productivity.
2. Printer Quality
Print quality is measured in dots per inch; black-and-white printers should have a minimum resolution of 600 x 600 dots per inch. Black-and-white resolutions of 2400 x 1200 produce high-quality print productions. Color print quality of 1200 x 1200 is a good minimum standard, and a resolution of 4800 x 2400 produces excellent-quality color printouts.
3. Duty Cycle
A printer’s duty cycle is the maximum number of pages that should be printed per month. Printers that are to be used in an 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.
4. Laser vs. Inkjet
A laser printer generally produces higher-quality images than an inkjet printer, and laser printers operate more efficiently than inkjet in terms of cost per page. Laser toner cartridges are more expensive than inkjet cartridges, but they last significantly longer. Laser printers usually print much faster than inkjet printers once the unit is heated up and operational.
5. Ink Replacement Costs
Consider the replacement cost of ink when buying an all-in-one printer; compare the yield that can be expected from the ink or toner cartridge. By dividing the cost of the cartridge by the expected yield, a cost-per-page estimate can be calculated. Do not forget to factor in the cost of color cartridges as well.
Important Scanner Features
Scanner quality is also measured in dots per inch; having a scanner that produces high-quality images is important if the scanner is going to be used for anything other than as a copy machine. The following features are important when evaluating the scanner feature of an all-in-one printer.
6. Scanner Resolution
A scanner that captures at a minimum resolution of 1200 x 600 is necessary for high-quality reproductions, while a scanner resolution of 4800 x 4800 produces excellent-quality images.
7. Scanner Element Type
Many people are unaware that there are two different types of scanner elements. A charged couple device (CCD) scanner is considered better for scanning graphic files. Color contact image scanners (CIS) are thought to produce better text image scans.
8. OCR Scanner Software
All-in-one printers come with a software package that provides drivers for the different devices included in the multifunction printer, as well as interface software that allows users to operate the separate device functions. An important piece of scanner software is an OCR (optical character recognition) tool; with OCR software, a page of text that is scanned can be converted into a document that can be opened and edited with software such as Microsoft Word or other word processing software.
Essential Copy Features
Many of the copy features of an all-in-one printer are dependent on the scanner’s capabilities, while some copy features are impacted by the printer’s abilities. One copy feature that is independent of both the printer and the scanner is the copier’s ability to enlarge or shrink copied elements.
9. Copy Speed
Once the scanner has created a reproduction of the image the user wants copied, the speed at which copies of that image are produced is important. Just as with a slow printer, waiting for multiple copies to be printed out can have an adverse effect on productivity. A copy speed of at least 25 pages per minute is a good baseline for an all-in-one printer.
10. Copied Document Sizing
The ability to shrink or enlarge a copied image directly from the scanner table is a nice feature to have in an all-in-one printer. Document resizing from 25 percent to 400 percent is a common specification for most copier printers.
Fax Features for an All-in-One Printer
The fax machine features of an all-in-one printer are very important in a business machine. A couple of very useful features make a multifunction fax component operate similarly to a stand-alone fax machine.
11. Automatic Document Feeder
Manually placing each page of a fax document on a scanner platform one-at-a-time is not a very efficient way to send a fax; a document feeder eliminates that problem, allowing you to place a stack of papers to be faxed on the feeder tray. The automatic document feeder needs to be matched with a suitable amount of fax memory.
12. Fax Page Memory
Fax page memory represents how many pages can be scanned and held in memory as the faxes are being sent. These pages can represent multiple faxes to multiple numbers. Look for a minimum fax memory of 100 pages.
13. Fax Page Speed
An all-in-one printer should have the capability to send a fax page in under 5 seconds.
General Features to Look For in an All-in-One Printer
There are some general features that buyers should look for when purchasing an all-in-one printer, as having these extras can make important tasks easier. Most multifunction printers offer USB connectivity to a PC, but users with a network or Wi-Fi availability can benefit from alternate printer access methods.
14. Wi-Fi or Network Connectivity
A Wi-Fi-compatible all-in-one printer can be configured to operate securely in a home or business network that has wireless capabilities. WPS setup is a common feature on most routers, and if a user’s network has the WPS feature, buying a multifunction printer with WPS setup will make configuring the printer easy. If wireless is not available, an all-in-one printer that has a built-in network card can be wired to an available port on the network and eliminate the need to share the printer from a network PC.
15. Memory Card Compatibility
If the memory card slot on the all-in-one printer is a function the user intends to take advantage of, the user should make sure the card slot(s) are compatible with their memory card(s). Memory slot specifications vary greatly, and some older-style memory cards may not work with newer multifunction printer models.
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