Scanning, Copying, Printing and Faxing: Multifunctional Devices

Test Results In Detail

Manufacturers put low price tags on MFDs to hook buyers. That is why you should compare the wildly varying costs of operation and maintenance.

When testing multifunctional devices, power drain plays a role as well. The consumption in standby mode ranges anywhere from 5.0 (Lexmark X75) to 14.8 (Samsung SCX-1150F) watts. Most units still draw energy, even when they are turned off. The HP OfficeJet D145 needs 11.3 watts in off mode. The Brother MFD-590, the Lexmark X125 and the Samsung SCX-1150F models don't even have a power switch.

Brother MFC-5100c

The Brother MFC-5100c delivers good performance. Its contrast ratio is satisfactory, and there are only minor color deviations (17.4 percent) in printouts. When it comes to speed, though, this MFD has nothing to brag about: ten Dr. Grauert business letters (standard testing method with 5% ink relative to the area of a page) take as long as 2 minutes and 45 seconds. (Canon's MultiPass F30 takes merely 1 minute and 13 seconds to do the same.) A simple push of the convenient ink key in the control panel causes the print heads to be cleaned.

It costs just 3.3 cents to print a color page, and 4.1 cents per black and white page is equally reasonable. When scanning a 600 dpi-resolution photograph, the unit delivers high contrast results with minor color deviations. However, the digitizing process takes a tedious 4 minutes and 25 seconds. This flatbed scanner is unusual in that the copies have to be centered and put down without horizontal edge guides so that the entire page can be scanned. The MFC-5100c costs $249.99, its low print and scan speeds and low operation and maintenance costs place it fourth in this comparison. One drawback of this unit is its loud noise of 58.7 dBA when in operation.