Colorful language

Multifunction printers turn a new page in combining text, graphics, features and speed

A MULTIFUNCTION PRINTER is a relatively new invention. It is designed to save money and time by consolidating most office copying, imaging and printing activities in one place and on one machine. From a typical MFP, you can scan, fax and copy documents. And because the heart of any MFP is a printer, you can also print documents via your network or a USB cable.

In this report

The GCN Lab tested tests eight multifunction printers suitable for small, midsize and, in at least one case, even large workgroups.

Lead story: Colorful language
HP Color LaserJet CM3530
Oki Data C5550n MFP
HP Color LaserJet CM2320
Brother MFC-9450CDN
Lexmark X872e
Panasonic KX-MC6040
The ink option
Xerox Phaser 6180MFP/N

In the past few years, companies that manufacture MFPs have started to make color a standard option. The trend caught on so quickly that now most MFPs can produce color documents at various quality levels for a reasonable price. Other features of MFPs, such as scanners and fax machines, also have additional capabilities. Many can store numbers in a database for faxing on the go, whether a user is standing at the device or sitting at a PC. And the quality of the scanners has increased to the point that they can capture large documents with intricate features such as watermarks and fine print.

The GCN Lab evaluated eight leading color MFPs. We tested each unit on how quickly it could print a 30-page text document and a 30-page graphically demanding document, because having lines form at a shared device negates most of the advantages of consolidation. We graded the printouts on quality and color accuracy. We tested scanners and fax components mostly for accuracy but also for speed.

Overall, we graded each MFP based on the number of features and ease of use because having many features does little good if users can’t easily access them. Finally, the price of the unit relative to its performance and features determined its value score.

We reviewed the Epson WorkForce 600 separately because it uses liquid ink; the other units rely on toner.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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Reader Comments

Sun, Jan 25, 2009 Sam Henderson DC

We were on the fence about which MFP to purchase, but armed with this data we went with the Lexmark. So far so good. It's working well and is very fast, just like you said. Thanks so much for looking at this topic!

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