A Printer That's More Than A Printer

Multifunction printers, as denoted by their name, serve as more than just a printer for your computer. Now you can get many functions all rolled into one machine. If you are in need of a printer, fax machine, scanner, and photocopier, you can find all of these functions rolled into one machine. No need to go out and buy them separately, in fact you'll be spending a lot more money if you do. Buy one multifunction printer and you'll have everything you need in one place. No need to buy separate machines and try to figure out where to house them. And prices have come down a lot over the last few years, so you may also find that the money you spend for a multifunction printer will be about the same or very little more than it takes to buy one high-quality standard printer. Some things to consider before you buy one include: printing speed (ppm), type of printer (laser or inkjet), printing/scanning resolution, compatibility with your computer system, software, and user interface. We'll cover the functions, makes and models, pricing and where to buy one.

Functions of a Multifunction Printer

As the name implies, there is more than one purpose for a multifunction printer than just a printer for your computer. Here are the functions you will probably find in most of these machines. If you are in need of one or more of these functions along with a printer, you should consider a multifunction printer.

  • Printer
    First and foremost, a multifunction printer serves as a computer printer. It will be hooked up and configured to your computer. It will function as any standard printer does.
  • Scanner
    Your choice of a multifunction printer should include scanning capabilities. This will be either a flatbed or sheet-fed scanner, depending on the model you chose.
  • Fax Machine
    If you need a fax machine along with the others, most multifunction printers also have this capability. Of course you'll need access to a phone line to use this feature.
  • Copier
    You can also get a copy feature with your new printer as well. Your copier can be color or black & white.

Makes, Models, Prices

Major makers of multifunciton printers include Brother, Canon, Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, and Xerox, among others. We'll briefly review models from some of these makers as follows:

The top-rated Brother multifunction printer from is the MFC-8860DN All-In-One-Laser. Features include print, fax, copy, and scan. It's a black & white printer, but if you don't need color capability, this one may be for you. Retails from Brother at $500. gives it a 4 1/2 star rating. Works well in the small to medium office environment.

For another $100 you can own a MFC-9420CN. Features all of the above, with color capabilities, and is also a laser printer.

For home and home office use, check out the many models offered by Brother. Prices range from $80 to $229 for inkjet multifunction color printers; $200-$300 for black & white laser models; and $600-$700 for color laser technology. Check out Brother's web page for more details. Not all models available with fax functions.

Canon makes a variety of inkjet and laser multifunction printers. Their inkjet models run from $100 to just under $300 for color "all in one" printers. Includes fax, print, copy, and scan capabilities.

There are two laser all-in-one or multifunction printers available from Canon. One is black & white, the other is a color printer. Priced are $249 and $279 for these printers with copy, print, scan and fax capabilities. Check out Cannon's web site for more information.

Lexmark makes several inkjet all-in-one printers, ranging in price from $50 on up to $279, with plenty of choices in between. The $50 is a color printer, copier and scanner, and has faxing capabilities through your pc. Up your price to $100 and you can get fax capabilities as you would with a stand-alone fax machine, as well as copy, print and scan features. Move up to $129 and you begin to see wi-fi capable all-in-one printers. The $279 model has more bells and whistles, including faster printing and scanning speeds, wireless capabilities, and more.

If you're looking for a laser multifunction printer, Lexmark does well here, too. You can really go crazy if you have the money to burn. Prices range from $400 all the way up to $17,000 for a laser multifunction printer. The $400 model prints black only. These higher end ($10,000 to $17,000) models look and act more like your standard copy machine, with all the other functions built in as well. Good considerations for a larger business.

Another thing that's nice about Lexmark's official web site is that they list the supplies and accessories you need for your copier of choice. You can see upfront before you buy what your toner cartridges will cost you.

Hewlett Packard (HP)
HP carries a variety of laser models, priced from $65 on up to $3,200. The $65 model is a flatbed color printer and would work for home or small business use. Print, scan and copy functions (no fax). Move up in price a little bit and for about $110 you can add fax capabilities as well as more efficient copying, printing or scanning. As you progress up the price scale, you'll find even more perks than with the cheaper models.

Where to Buy

Each printer manufacturer has an online store where you can purchase your multifunction printer of choice. You can also purchase one through a local retailer like Office Max, Staples, or Office Depot, or Circuit City or Best Buy.

Take into account your budget and your actual printing needs as you make your choice for a multifunction or all-in-one printer. Since these prices have come down a lot over the past few years, you should be able to afford a lot more printer now than you could back then. For the price of a standard inkjet printer a few years ago, you can now own a multifunction inkjet printer. Spend a little more, and a color laser printer can be yours.

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