Multifunction printers group test

Introduction

Multifunction devices make so much sense in the small office or home environment. They save space by combining two, three, and sometimes four devices and they provide the tools that allow you to perform the everyday tasks a business needs.

Not long ago manufacturers used to do little more than bolt a scanner on top of an existing printer and leave it at that. Thankfully, there’s a lot more thought put into the process nowadays and the range of options available is quite stunning.

We’ve gathered together six of the best all-in-ones and put them through their paces to see which one is worth your money. All of the devices we chose have the basic print, copy and scan functionality, but some have a fax too. In addition, there are other useful features, such as automatic document feeders and CD printing support. Also, all of the multifunctions we have on test provide for both wired and wireless network connectivity. So, you can add any of these to your network and share it between Macs. If you prefer, you can use a plain old USB cable to connect to your Mac too.

We’re going to be looking for the all-in-one that provides the best performance across our range of tests rather than just one aspect. We’ll be looking at design and build quality, how each unit is put together, and assessing how well it might stand up to the rigours of daily use. The usability of the devices will also come under close scrutiny: how easy are they to understand and use? Is it possible to get the device to do what you want without resorting to the instruction book?

Of course, the main component of our testing will revolve around printing and scanning. We’ll look at how quickly each scanner can get an image to the desktop and the quality of the result. Similarly, we’ll be assessing the speed at which the printers can chug though pages of text and images. However, speed will be no substitute for quality and the text and images produced will have to be of a high standard to walk away with the Editors’ Choice award. On top of all this we’ll be taking a close look at the value for money each device represents, keeping an eye on those ink tank costs.

Some of the competitors may well win plaudits for photo quality or speed, but the device that balances design, cost and performance will be our overall winner.

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