Multifunction Device / Multifunction Printer Buying Guide

Our tips on how to buy the best printer - for printing photos, scanning, faxing or copying. We help you choose the right multifunction device or all in one printer

Check out our round-ups of the best inkjet printers for small businesses, best photo printers and best inkjet printers.

Find Australian printer reviews including multifunction printers, photo printers and inkjet printers from companies like Canon, Epson, Brother, HP and Dell.

What is a multifunction device?

A multifunction device (MFD) — also known as a multifunction printer — lets you print, scan, photocopy, fax, and more. Most multifunctions will let you to carry out more than one of these tasks simultaneously.

There are two main types of multifunction: laser printers (which can be colour or black and white) and inkjet printers (which are only available in colour). Multifunction printers range in price from under $50 to over $5000, and are available with a variety of features and networking options. The design and the quality of printing also vary; some expensive MFDs don't necessarily provide better print quality compared to cheaper multifunctions.

In the home, you would look to a multifunction printer to save money and space, particularly if you want to fax, scan, print and copy on a regular basis. Though standalone printers, scanners and faxes are still available, many (if not all) of their features are available on multifunction devices. The amalgamation of several devices into one unit along with the addition of large LCD panels, networking options, and direct printing features (such as PictBridge) make multifunctions the best choice for many households.

In a business environment, high-end standalone laser printers can often be a better choice as they offer better quality results, faster speeds, and similar networking capabilities to multifunctions. However, MFDs can be valuable to businesses of all sizes, as they reduce the amount of space taken up by standalone printers, photocopiers and fax machines, and often their features can be accessed across a network. This allows businesses to increase productivity, streamline tasks and potentially decrease costs (for example, only leasing one unit instead of three.)

As you are effectively buying three or more devices in one, there are many factors to consider when purchasing a multifunction device. This guide will help you think about different features you may want in such a device, and suggest some important points to consider before making your purchase.

Downsides

Multifunction devices are commonly perceived to have several downsides. For instance, many people think that although a multifunction can perform multiple tasks, the quality of those individual tasks is compromised. Fortunately, this isn't the case. Though you'll likely spend more for a multifunction device than you would for an individual unit, multifunction devices can still match the quality of their standalone counterparts. However, be aware that high-end monochrome laser printers offer more advanced quality settings (lines-per-inch density settings, for example) that aren't available on multifunction devices. These standalone units are used for printing that requires the utmost accuracy rather than for standard office use.

Security can be a concern when an MFD is networked and used to scan and store sensitive documents. However, technology has improved vastly in the last five years and security features and standards have been enhanced. Most lower-end multifunction devices can be easily set up and secured using accompanying software or a Web interface; some higher-end network multifunction devices will require professional configuration to ensure their security.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Topics: Printers, multifunctions

Comments

Tomter

1

From a business perspective, the initial cost of a printer fades into insignificance compared to ongoing running costs.

We bought a Lexmark x502n last may, hoping the versatility of the unit would eliminate the need for a number of devices.

Faxing, scanning and copying were all excellent, as our research prior to outlaying the cash suggested.

Sadly, the thing is a toner hog. A recent 3-hour service visit failed to fix the problem, and after paying $2,200 in toner in recent months, the Lexmark has been put out to pasture. Lexmark aren't remotely interested in helping us resolve our problems.

A Dell black laser (excellent value) will keep us going until we can find a better solution than the Lexmark.

marbachan

2

A crucial specification is not mentioned, PDL.

There is no mention of PDL and its effects How is a GDI compared to PCL, compared to PostScript (Adobe and emulation)?

Were there any tests done for PostScript? Is PostScript "castrated"?

Without this, uninformed users are "forced" to accept a lower-quality print when a solution is available.

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?