They can print, copy, scan, and fax but can they open tins? We put multifunction devices to the test and find out.
Ricoh Aficio 3224C
How we tested
What to look out for
Sidebar: HP colours MFD market
In this feature we look at three multifunctional devices (MFDs), intended to suit a small team of six to eight people. The Brother MFC-8840D, the Samsung SCX-4216F, and the Sharp ARM155.
We invited vendors including HP, Canon, and Fuji-Xerox who all have MFDs that would have suited, but each said they wouldn't submit because they have new MFDs coming out, or couldn't get a product to us in time. One vendor even told us that they are pushing colour MFDs so decided not to part take in the review.
We believe there is a strong demand for MFDs that can print at 20ppm in mono and scan in colour. These small, low-volume devices are mainly purchased by small business but there are situations where a company will have a small number of staff in remote and confined offices where these devices will come in really handy.
Most of the time staff don't need to print in colour so there wouldn't be a necessity to buy a colour-capable MFD. Printing in colour is also still quite expensive -- around 15 cents per page. Management would be able to stop worrying about staff abusing colour prints and wasting money.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Besides the obvious advantages in buying a single product, such as reducing your capital expenditure and saving space; MFDs can reduce the time it would normally take to do the same thing using four different devices. A single device will also use less power than four devices.
However there are disadvantages to using MFD devices including long print queues, but the biggest problem occurs when the device breaks down and requires repairs. This will mean you will be left without a printer, copier, scanner, and fax. Be sure to ask the manufacturer what their turnaround times are for repairs and whether they will leave you with a loan device.
MFDs are mainly connected via a NIC, USB, or parallel port. We are also starting to see wireless and bluetooth capabilities built into the MFDs. Some of these MFDs ship with duplexes like the Brother in this review. And with additional paper trays some of them can house up to 1000 A4- sized pages.