Scanning, Copying, Printing and Faxing: Multifunctional Devices

Different Printing Costs

In addition to print quality and speed, pay close attention to the wildly varying printing costs of multifunctional devices. Printouts made with rather inexpensive models, such as the Lexmark X75, will cost you a pretty penny - roughly 16 cents per color page and almost 18 cents per black and white page. The X75, designed to put out 2,000 pages per month, is supposed to print 800 black and white and 550 color pages at a coverage of 5% with a single ink cartridge. In our test, printouts made with the X75 started fading after only 165 pages printed with the black cartridge, and after roughly 200 pages with the color cartridge. That's when, in real life, ink cartridges are replaced. At prices of $28.99 (black cartridge) and $31.99 (color cartridge) for one ink tank, the monthly follow-up costs for 2,000 color pages that also use black ink add up to $380 for black cartridges and $348 for color cartridges. This comes to a whopping $728 per month, or $8,736 per year, just for the ink cartridges, and that is a lot for an MFD.

A more expensive unit with lower operation and maintenance costs, such as the Canon MultiPass F30, will pay for itself fairly quickly. This machine costs $299.99. Printing a black and white page costs 3.4 cents; the color printout takes 6 cents for output. The manufacturer claims that, at a coverage of 5%, 310 black and white and 390 color pages can be printed with one cartridge. This model showed its first signs of fading after 409 pages with the black cartridge and after 450 pages with the color cartridges. At $13.99 per black cartridge and $35.85 for three color cartridges, it will cost you about $100 to print 3,000 pages per month.

Great Scan Units

The scan units of the current MFDs have been significantly improved. Both the Canon MultiPass F30 and the HP PSC 2210 produce superb quality; the remaining models deliver good to satisfactory results. The scans produced by these three candidates are impressive, showing only minimal color deviations from the originals. Credit for this goes to more powerful CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors, the same ones that are used in individual units. They allow resolutions of up to 1200 x 1400 dpi at a color depth of 48 bits.

Conclusion

The top three multifunctional devices, the HP PSC 2210, and Canon's MultiPass F30 and MultiPass F50, are neck and neck. While HP's model delivered good to excellent results in the benchmarks, the two Canon units shone with the lowest costs per page. However, the remaining all-in-one solutions in this comparison put up a good fight, too: more than half of all the MFDs are fine for small and home office environments. Our budget thumbs-up goes to the inexpensive $149.99 entry-level model, the Lexmark X125. Do watch out for the high operation and maintenance costs with cheaper products, though.

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