Pragmatic printers for the smartphone age
[ GETTING IT IN PRINT ]
We test seven all-in-one multifunction printers for home or small office, priced at under $200 and under $400.[ JENNETH ORANTIA ] PRINTERS ARE PROBABLY one of the last things you’d consider as having been affected by the smartphone revolution. But if you consider the convenience of having an always-connected screen in your pocket that you can use for instantly calling up all manner of information — from emails to web pages, movie/concert tickets to holiday reservations — you can see how the need to produce paper printouts has lessened. Still, there are still plenty of instances where a hard copy is required — especially in the context of a school or work environment. Multifunction centres (MFCs) — sometimes referred to as multifunction printers — combine combine a printer, scanner, photocopier and sometimes a fax machine into a single device, and have continued to be popular for this reason. While MFCs are available in both inkjet and laser variants, the latter isn’t as common for home and SMB usage — especially as they’re typically priced at the higher-end of the spectrum. One thing to be wary of with inkjets is that they don’t reproduce text with the same crisp legibility as a laser printer, so if you’re looking to print documents for professional purposes, a laser printer may be the better option. Wi-Fi support is now considered standard on modern printers (indeed, many don’t even bother including a USB cable in the box), making it easy for any computer or mobile device on the network to connect to it wirelessly. The latest models also offer a variety of other connection options, including USB ports for plugging in thumb drives, SD card slots and integrated support for popular cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote.
HOW WE TESTEDBlack and colour print times were evaluated by printing a 10-page document two-sided at normal quality. Scan times were evaluated using the ADF (where available) with a 10-page two-sided document using text quality scanning at 300dpi. Copy times were evaluated using the ADF (where available) with a 10-page two-sided document in black. Print costs were evaluated by taking the street price for genuine high XL inks and dividing it by the advertised page yield for black prints.
MFCS UNDER $200
HP OfficeJet Pro 8710 Review: Excellent bang for buck
Canon MAXIFY MB2160 Review
Epson WorkForce WF-3640
Canon PIXMA Home TS9060
HP OfficeJet Pro 8740
Epson Expression Premium XP-900
Sitting squarely in the middle of Brother’s latest multi-function printer (MFP) range, this feels like a step up from a …
£205.90Read full review
THE INS AND OUTS OF INK
Should you stick with ink or toner from your printer maker, or is it safe to buy third-party refills?The reason why inkjet printers are cheaper than laser printers is that brands will generally sell them at a loss. The likes of HP, Canon, Epson and Brother make their money back from the sale of ink cartridges – which, for a full set of all the colours in the high-yield option, can cost around a third of the price of the printer itself. The good news is that most printers have moved to using separate cartridges for each colour, which means you can replace these individually as they run out rather than having to buy an entire new set each time. If you’re really looking to pinch pennies, you can also consider using generic ink cartridges, which are generally up to 50% cheaper than the genuine branded versions. However, it’s worth checking the printer manufacturer’s position on using non-genuine ink cartridges. HP came under fire last year for rolling out firmware that disabled printers using non-HP inks. While it subsequently retracted its stance, the HP printers we tested for this roundup make it clear that only HP ink cartridges are supported, and that any non-HP ink cartridges that currently work may not work in the future. Several brands have also introduced different solutions to counter the high cost of running a printer. HP Instant Ink, an initiative introduced overseas, is a tiered ink subscription service that automatically sends you new cartridges when your printer runs low — a service it says saves users up to 50% on the cost of ink. Epson and Canon, on the other hand, has launched new printers with integrated ink systems that offer lower printing costs per page. While they’re more expensive than the typical MFC (the Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2650, while the Canon PIXMA Endurance G4600), they’re both able to print more than 5,000 pages with the ink supplied out of the box.