Shopping Guide: Multi-Function Printers

Inkjet Printers 2003

In the world of inkjet printers, four manufacturers, which collectively have 95% share, announce their new models during the summer. These four heavyweights, Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark, traditionally push the envelope, by unveiling printers that are are redesigned, faster and even more user friendly than the year before.

However, this year, Brother managed to sneak into the heavyweight ring with the MFC 4820C, which sparked our interest.

All printer makers this year, Brother included, claim to offer resolutions of 4800 dpi, and in some cases, up to 5760 dpi.

Nevertheless, not everyone needs to buy the most expensive and state of the art model, of course. Why spend more money when you can spend less just to get the job done?

The other possibility is that you might want your printer to serve as a scanner, photocopier, and fax machine as well. There's just too much choice between single function and multifunction machines, so this Comparison Test should help you find your way through them.

How To Read This Comparison Test

This article will enable you to identify at a glance the printers that are most suited to your needs. It will be updated regularly, as the various printers come onto the market, from now through 2004. Each new printer tested will add to its value.

The tests performed are the usual ones: battery life, speed, quality of text, composite documents, monochrome, color, standard resolution, draft mode, high definition, etc.

The following pages summarize, manufacturer by manufacturer, in a few lines, the basics of each printer. Three types of grade are awarded for the graphics:

  • Cost: function of the price of the printer, cost per page, ergonomics
  • Quality : assessed at different resolutions and on different types of paper, in color and black and white
  • Speed: at all resolutions