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Which All In One Printer To Buy

Who doesn't want to reduce the number of machines around the house or the office that they need to keep fed, watered, filled, and powered up? (Pets and plants are enough of a commitment.) Any printer, by definition, can of course print. Not every printer, however, can help shuffle your old fax machine, copier, and flatbed scanner off to the great recycling bin in the sky.

which all in one printer to buy

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All-in-one printers (AIOs) are these magic machines. AIOs add key functions beyond just printing, which is why they're also called multifunction printers (MFPs). All of them can copy, and because copying requires a scanner, most can scan as well. Many add faxing to the mix along with other features, such as scanning to and printing from cloud sites. They range from small, under-$100 models suitable for home or home-office use to floor-standing behemoths that can anchor a corporate department, thanks to suitably large paper capacities and maximum duty cycles (in essence, suggested print limits) of tens of thousands of pages a month.

We've outlined below our top picks among home and office all-in-one printers we've tested. Read on for our labs-tested favorites, followed by the buying basics you should know when buying an AIO printer. And, at the very end of this article, you can see a detailed spec breakout of our top choices.

The Brother MFC-J4335DW offers everything you need in a four-function AIO for light-duty use, and it stands out for its combination of performance, price, and running cost. The 150-sheet tray will let you to print up to roughly 600 sheets per month without having to refill it more often than about once a week, while auto duplexing and a bypass tray to feed single sheets add convenience. The combination of a low initial price and low ink cost also means you don't have to print much before the savings makes the total cost of ownership lower than for most less-expensive printers. Paper handling for scanning is typical for the price, with a flatbed plus a 20-page ADF for simplex (one-sided) scanning at up to legal size. Most important, the MFC-J4335DW delivered good speed on our tests for the price and more-than-acceptable output quality for most business and home use.

The G7020 is a nearly ideal fit for a family that needs a four-function AIO for both home use like schoolwork and photos, and for medium-to-heavy-duty print needs in a home office. If you don't expect to print enough over the printer's lifetime to at least break even on the overall cost of ownership compared with an AIO that uses ink cartridges, you're probably better off with the lower-priced alternative. But even in that case, there's something to be said for the convenience of not having to constantly worry about replacing cartridges as each one runs dry on a different schedule.

If you need a four-function AIO for a small office or home office, it's easy to find less-expensive ink cartridge-based models with similar speed, output quality, and features as the Epson ST-C4100 Supertank Color MFP. But for offices that print enough for cost per page to be a major consideration, the savings in initial cost for those printers can quickly be eaten up by ink costs. With the ST-C4100's running cost of 0.3 cent per mono page and 0.9 cent per color page, it doesn't take many pages per month to hit the break-even point, especially considering that it ships with two complete sets of black and color ink bottles you have to use up before spending a penny on ink. The ST-C4100 also offers a solid feature set, including a 250-sheet paper drawer and automatic print duplexing. There's also a letter-size flatbed and a 30-page ADF for up to legal-size paper for scanning, copying, and faxing. Finally, you can count on text and graphics output quality that's just short of top-tier for business inkjets.

Printing photos at home can quickly get expensive. It's an issue the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 addresses head-on, slashing costs courtesy of its tank design and low-cost ink. Epson says the ink cost for a borderless 4-by-6-inch photo is 4 cents, roughly one-tenth the cost for an otherwise-equivalent cartridge-based printer. That's a savings of more than $1 for three photos, or more than $100 for every 300. Over the ET-8500's lifetime, you can easily save enough to cover the full price of the printer.

The six-color ink system is another key feature, adding Photo Black and gray to the usual cyan, yellow, magenta, and black. The extra inks help deliver good color accuracy and subtle gradations for both color and grayscale photos as large as a borderless 8.5 by 11 inches. Paper capacity in the front trays is suitable for printing more than 80 small-format photos and 400 sheets of plain paper per month while holding paper refills to once a week on average. An additional 50-page rear tray also makes it easy to add or switch to different papers, and the printer can even handle printable CDs. AIO functions beyond printing are limited to copying and scanning using a letter-size flatbed.

The ET-8500's low running cost makes it the printer of choice for anyone who wants to print lots of high-quality photos and winces at the thought of how much they would have to pay for the privilege of constantly changing ink cartridges with a less-expensive printer. Others may consider it worth the high initial cost just to avoid the annoyance of six individual cartridges running out of ink, each on its own schedule. Keep in mind as well that the ET-8500 can also serve as a standard home printer with a low running cost for anything from printing recipes or homework to light-duty home-office needs.

For anyone who needs to print large photos, the step up from the ET-8500 to a bigger paper size is a big deal. The ET-8550 is currently the only tabloid- or supertabloid-size printer in its price range that combines a focus on printing high-quality photos with the low running cost that comes from a tank-based design. It's also the only AIO with a focus on photos. In short, whether you want large, high-quality photos at a low print cost or want an AIO that can give you large, high-quality photos regardless of ink cost, the ET-8550 is the printer you want.

The Canon imageClass MF455dw impressed us when we reviewed it as the no-compromise mono laser AIO for its category for not much more money than its competition. It prints, scans, copies, and faxes; prints at very nearly its 40ppm rating for simplex printing; slows down by less than 1ppm for duplex (two-sided) printing; and delivers top-tier mono laser quality for text, graphics, and photos. Even better, its 50-sheet duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) can keep up with the printer for equally fast copying, and the duplexing works for scanning and faxing also, which isn't true of all competitors.

The MF-455dw's paper handling makes it appropriate for any small or midsize office or workgroup that churns though about 250 or 300 sheets of paper per week with the base unit, or about 1,000 sheets with the optional drawer added. However, the ability to duplex with little loss of speed, plus the duplexing scanner's ability to keep up for copying, makes it a prime candidate for an office that needs both heavy-duty printing and equally heavy-duty scanning, copying, and faxing by small to midsize office standards. Where too many AIOs are primarily printers that add limited additional functions, the MF455dw does everything well.

Don't let the "Enterprise" in the name get in the way of considering it for your non-enterprise office. Although packed with a wealth of security and network management features that many small and midsize offices won't care about, there's no reason you have to use them. At heart, the M480f is a solid workhorse for medium-duty mono and color printing, as well as scanning, copying, and faxing. And you might well appreciate some of its features that most printers leave out, including private printing, which lets you send a print job with sensitive information to the printer, and not print it until you enter a PIN at the front panel, instead of leaving it sitting in the output tray where anyone can see it.

The HP OfficeJet 250 All-in-One Printer impressed us enough as a portable printer to earn an Editors' Choice award when we reviewed it, but its ability to scan and copy as well as print was only one reason why. Along with typical text quality for an inkjet, it delivers slightly above-par graphics and photos, and it also came in faster on our tests than most print-only portables. And while it lacks duplex (two-sided) printing (like all the single-function competition we've seen), it offers manual duplexing, which prints one side of a stack of pages, waits for you to flip the stack over and reinsert it in the 50-page ADF, and then prints the other side. The simplex (single-sided) scanner offers its own 10-sheet ADF for scanning and copying. Connection choices include USB, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct, which lets you print from iOS and Android phones and tablets as well as PCs.

If you need to scan documents (including for copying) as well as print them while on the go, the OfficeJet 250 is obviously of interest. Even within those requirements, however, it's not for everyone. Keep in mind that if you only occasionally need to print and scan on the same trip, you could be better off with a separate printer and scanner, which would let you carry just the one you need at any given time. But if you usually need both scanning and printing, or can't predict which one you'll need when, the OfficeJet 250 will be less cumbersome to set up. Plus, it might be lighter than the combined weight of two separate devices.

If you're looking for an AIO strictly for an office, you probably care more about text and graphics than photos, and you also likely need higher paper capacities than most inkjets that focus on photo quality tend to offer. The choices, in that case, include both inkjets and lasers. (The latter category also includes LED printers, which differ only in the light source they use.) 041b061a72


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