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

Although the speed of multifunctions (especially for photo printing) has improved in the last few years, there is still substantial difference between devices. While some multifunction devices can print full-colour A4 photographs in 35 seconds, others take up to 5 minutes, and the results are often worlds apart in terms of quality.

To further confuse the issue, laser and inkjet speeds are measured and quoted differently. While it is generally a good rule of thumb to ignore inkjet multifunction print speeds, figures given for laser multifunction devices are often more accurate.

Speed is an issue in an office environment — especially if there are peak printing times when you need to meet deadlines, such as monthly reports. Buy a multifunction device with plenty of memory: this will allow it to store big files locally and print them out with a minimum of waiting time. More memory, and a fast processor, will also help keep things moving if people want to scan a document while you're printing, for example.

If speed is important to you, don't just go on what the advertising material tells you. The best way to work out whether an MFD is fast enough is to read independent reviews that involve tests conducted in real-world scenarios.

At a certain price point, the print speed difference between multifunction devices becomes negligible, which means the deciding factor will come down to the features of each multifunction device.

Since quoted print speeds can't really be trusted, PC World conducts its own standardised testing. We include the results in our reviews so you know how a device will perform in the real world. Below we have compiled some basic information about what you can expect these days from a multifunction device, and how it compares to what the vendor claims. As you can see, laser printers are generally truer to claimed speeds, though there can still be a slight discrepancy. The inkjet figures here are only representative of draft mode speeds; normal quality printing is usually much slower.

Laser:

Claimed speeds: 22 to 30 pages per minute (ppm) monochrome

Test results: 21 to 30ppm text

Claimed speeds: 30ppm colour graphics

Test results: 24 to 30ppm colour graphics

Inkjet:

Claimed Speeds: 28 to 40ppm monochrome, draft mode

Test results: 17 to 25ppm text

Claimed Speeds: 22 to 40ppm in colour, draft mode

Test results: 11 to 25ppm colour graphics

Print and scan resolution

Like speed, print and scan resolution specifications can often be misleading. Inkjet multifunction printers can boast maximum colour print resolutions of up to 9600x4800 dots per inch (dpi), though this is not always the resolution of the scan engine. Many devices use software to interpolate an image, smooth and sharpen colour, and generally optimise a picture to provide an image with a higher resolution than the scan engine itself.

Ink droplet size can often be a good way to determine an inkjet multifunction device's ability to handle fine detail when printing; better printers offer droplet sizes as low as 0.5 picolitres, while lower-end printers have droplets of 1.5-2 picolitres.

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

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.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?