Round-up: the best MFD is...

Summary:Every office needs an MFD, but which offers you the best quality while saving on costs? ZDNet Australia investigates.

ZDNet Round-up

The best MFD is...

In today's office, the dedicated photocopier can be replaced with the multifunction printer or multifunction device (MFP/MFD). There is really little point in filling two corners of the office with a great hulking printing device when one will do. A modern MFD can do anything a traditional photocopier can do and more.

Get started:
  1. Introduction

    What's out there, and what do I need?

  2. How we test

    The methodology of the madness

The last word:
  1. Results

    A look at each printer's performance

  2. Verdict

    Who reigns supreme in the printer space?

The contenders:
  1. Brother MFC-9840CDW

    A large desktop machine that features auto-duplexing, wireless connectivity and simultaneous multitasking.

  2. HP CM3530fs

    The HP has excellent colour controls, with each colour component adjustable for intensity of highlights, mid-tones and shadows.

  3. Kyocera TASKalfa 250ci

    The Kyocera stands on its own cabinet, and contains two 500-sheet trays.

  4. Lexmark X736de

    This is a tall, desk-mounted MFD and is easily identifiable thanks to its tiered document feeder.

  5. Fuji Xerox Phaser 8560MFP

    Decked out with optional trays, this Fuji Xerox printer has a capacity of 1675 sheets.

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(Credit: HP)


Take the time to think about your needs by creating a wish list. The sooner you know what you need, the easier it is to refine your choices.

Do you need to copy or scan multi-page documents? Do you need automatic collating and stapling of documents? How many pages is the office likely to print each month? Does everyone need access to a colour printer? Is direct printing from USB required? How about wireless printing? Is automatic double-sided scanning and printing a must?

Buyers should also look closely at the available administrative options available with each machine. We all know that colour toner is expensive for example, so a good MFD will allow administrators to limit who can print in colour. Data security is another important access issue - particularly if taking advantage of on-board document storage. Consider what capacity the printer has for data encryption and disk wiping. Long print runs can also tie up a machine for long periods; priority printing allows important tasks to interrupt these time-consuming tasks.

Other useful features to keep in mind when selecting an MFD include finishers with the capacity to staple, hole punch and fold documents. Personal address books and copy settings can also be useful too.

Chances are your wishes can be met - provided that the budget allows it!

Given the huge range of features in a modern MFD it was not practical to cover all aspects of these devices in this review. Therefore, Enex TestLab decided to concentrate on print and copy quality, speed, ease of use and running costs.

Invitations were sent out to seven vendors for participation in this review: Brother, Canon, HP, Kyocera, Lexmark, Ricoh and FujiXerox. Of these, Canon and Ricoh were unable to supply a product in time for the review. Each vendor was asked to supply a corporate-level MFD solution with the following minimum criteria:

  • Minimum page speed of 20 A4 colour pages per minute
  • Paper handling of 500 sheets
  • The ability to expand to at least 1500 sheets

How we test

Each printer was assessed on speed and quality of print and copy. General usability was assessed and the range of features were also considered.

Peak print speed measures assumed 5 per cent monochrome text coverage of an A4 page, with timing initiated after spooling is complete. Average print speed measurements included colour and images, with timing beginning at the commencement of print spooling. In each case the print run used a 20-page document. Print tests considered line quality, colour handling, gradients and photo quality.

Copy speed was assessed on a single page of monochrome text and a single page colour photo using standard and highest copy qualities respectively. The copy of the photo was then used in assessing copy quality.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard

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