The ink option

IT IS NO SURPRISE that most multifunction printers use toner as their primary means of getting words and graphics onto pages, given that the heart of every color MFP is a color printer, almost all of which use toner.

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

But not every company has moved into the powdery world of toner cartridges. A few companies still use liquid ink, which is loaded into printers through handheld cartridges that are only a couple inches wide. The Epson WorkForce 600 MFP is such a printer.

Liquid-ink printers, and by extension MFPs, are generally going to be slower than toner-based models because the ink is being sprayed onto a page as it passes the print heads instead of having an entire image applied almost instantaneously. Also, toner is easier to store inside units in large amounts — you typically can print thousands of pages before you need to change toner, but only hundreds with a liquid-ink model.

The primary advantage to being an older, less complicated technology is price, although the constant need to purchase ink cartridges can add up. However, ink printers also tend to be smaller, because their print engines are tiny compared with the monster fuser, rollers and drum units on toner models.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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