Multifunction Device / Multifunction Printer Buying Guide

Our tips on how to buy the best printer - for printing photos, scanning, faxing or copying. We help you choose the right multifunction device or all in one printer

A final downside of multifunction printers is maintenance; it is often thought that if one part stops working, you can lose the other functions too. While it's true that if the printer breaks, you will generally not be able to photocopy, most MFDs are designed so that you will still be able to scan. In addition, most business-targeted multifunction devices will provide you with an error reporting system or e-mail notifications when there is a fault, allowing you or a designated maintenance person to fix the machine before it affects productivity.

Factors to consider

When hunting around for an MFD for the home or the office, ask yourself what sort of functionality you require. Maybe you don't need a fax machine? Maybe a memory card reader is not required? Maybe you don't need a network adapter? Asking yourself these sorts of questions will narrow down your search for a machine and will also allow you to save money by not purchasing a device with features that you don't need.

It is a good idea to estimate the maximum number of pages per month that you need to print, and buy a printer that can handle that workload. Printer manufacturers often provide maximum monthly duty cycle figures that give you a rough idea of how much that printer can handle in a given time period. Depending on your needs, you may only need to print 300-400 pages per month, though larger offices will require multifunction devices with a maximum monthly duty cycle in excess of 20,000 pages.

Another factor to consider when purchasing a multifunction device is whether you need inkjet or laser. Inkjet multifunctions are generally much cheaper to purchase and are better suited to printing photos (though you are looking at $300-$400 for an MFD that can produce particularly good quality photos). Laser multifunction printers, on the other hand, are much more expensive but provide better quality documents at a much faster rate. Though the initial outlay and subsequent consumables will cost more, laser printers can also have a lower running cost than inkjets as toners generally have a higher yield.

Printing speed

Since print speed is the easiest performance indicator on a multifunction to quantify, it is also the most-used weapon in the marketing war among vendors. As such, print speed figures are readily available for any model you are looking to purchase. However, this doesn't mean that it should necessarily be taken seriously.

Quoted print speeds often bear little to no relation to a multifunction device's real-world capabilities. Vendors frequently cite ratings based on standardised ISO tests, but these are often very simple text documents printed in draft mode or at an arbitrary resolution. As a result, print speeds — particularly in regards to inkjet multifunction devices — can simply be confusing. Many vendors don't even include the first page out time — the time it takes for the PC to send a job to the printer.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Printersmultifunctions

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?