67. Quality of all-in-one
By Mark Alberstat
There is a certain attraction to buying one item that has many functions.
The Swiss Army company has become legendary in its pursuit of
multi-function knives. In the computer industry a lot of companies will
focus in on one product and become known as the best manufacturer of that
particular type of peripheral or add-on. This is slowly changing,
however, with the advent of the all-in-one printers and the way their
quality has improved over the past few years.
All-in-one printers combine the functions of a printer, copier, fax,
scanner and sometimes, digital camera-card reader, all in one. The price
range of these printers is as wide as the options and models available.
Not many years ago, all-in-one printers were seen as cutting edge in
technology convergence but at the low-end in the quality of each of the
different functions. Today, that story is different. With companies such
as Canon, Epson and Lexmark competing for this lucrative sector of the
market, their products have gotten better and the prices have become more
The biggest drawback of one of these printers is that if it breaks or
becomes damaged and has to be sent out for service, you not only lose your
printer but your fax, scanner and copier are also gone. These printers
are also larger than most desktop inkjet printers. Although not a lot
larger, they do take up more space than the traditional barrel-type inkjet
printer, and on a small computer table space may be a mitigating factor.
On the other side of this coin, these machines eliminate the need for
several different peripherals spread around the workstation.
Before buying a printer, or any device, for your computer, make sure it is
compatible. Not only compatible with the operating system but also with
how it connects to your machine. If the peripheral only connects through
a USB port and you have an older machine, it may not have the proper port
A nice feature some of the higher-end, all-in-ones come with is an area
where digital media cards can be plugged in. Canon has created an
all-in-one that features ports for different types of cards and has a
simple one-touch button which will produce a contact sheet from the images
on the card. The contact sheet comes out with an identifier and oval next
to each picture. The user can fill in the ovals he or she wants printed,
place the contact sheet on the printer's scanning bed and the on-board
computer will understand which image to print.
When buying an all-in-one, there are a few features to look for.
Almost all of these printers are inkjet, although there are some lasers.
If you intend to print colour photos with your all-in-one, then inkjet is
the way to go. Speed is another factor. Most printers should print 12
black and white pages per minute and eight colour pages. The printer's
resolution is also important. If you are planning on printing photos,
look for 600 x 1200 dpi (dots per inch) or even
2400 x 1200.
The scanner function may also have a variety of options. Most are flatbed
scanners that offer more flexibility than the sheet feeder type. If you
are planning to scan in slides or transparencies, you will need a
transparency negative adapter, and not all models come equipped with them
or can be changed over to be one. Also look for a scanner with a 36-bit,
or better, depth of colour. This will give you better-looking scans with
more colour range.
With these points in mind, buying an all-in-one printer may be something
to think about next time you need a new printer, copier, scanner or fax
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Originally published 4 September 2005