Until a couple of years ago, the One is not spinning them if anyone. Today, to see the statistics of sales are launched to replace the printer as the next most common device to your PC . So much so that sales of printers “traditional” are in sharp decline , and the only category that keeps pace is that of photographic stampantine for the 10 × 15 . What has changed in these few months ?
Lots of things. Not the needs of users , of course, are always the same : download, scan and print photos and documents at an acceptable cost and with simple operating modes ; photocopied color without ruining economically ; send faxes . What has changed most is the multi-function itself. Only a few years ago was seen as a fallback solution , there needs to be used when saving on the cost of purchase or where space is limited , especially for the category of small offices or professionals working from home. Consequently , manufacturers proposed machines badly designed assembling mechanical printing shoddy and scanner lenses and noisy .
Among these machines and a modern multifunctional there is a real gap in performance, ergonomics and quality. Manufacturers have realized that in fact the ideal destination of these machines is not the segment “office “, where you generally prefer to have separate devices – if only to find himself suddenly in the Middle Ages not only breaks down if the power cord , blocking all ‘ unison printer / copier / fax / scanner.
The operating environment is ideal multifunction home . But to capture this market , needed a different approach : home users are accustomed to quality printers and scanners , because they use them to treat mainly photographs and graphics rather than text documents. Also, they have more specific needs , such as direct printing from their digital cameras, or transfer the contents of the Memory Cards to your PC . Then add that, generally, the home user hates operational complexity , and wants peripherals easier to manage. Finally, the whole thing does not have to cost a fortune, especially in terms of replacement cartridges , as there is generally a “client” on whom the costs . To meet these needs is a new generation of multifunction .
These devices usually built around mechanical jet printing ink of good quality, compatible with the photo printing , equipped with a high resolution scanner (in some cases with reader integrated films ) and often of ancillary functions such as PictBridge USB ports and card readers flash memory. Finally, a lot of work has been done on the ergonomics of the devices, now almost always come with a small front display from which to manage the various features as well with the computer off . Even the kits supplied software have evolved, becoming gradually more complete . In addition to the usual driver and utility of the device, in fact , manufacturers tend to provide more and more all the programs you need to use it : software for cataloging images , for photo editing , scanning and text recognition for sending fax, and so on. The size of these kits now reach unusual values : the multifunction HP, for example, comes with over 1 GB of software, but also the other manufacturers do not joke .
What makes the difference between a multi-function “classic” and one photo ?
The main feature is the quality of the print engine. It is the main component used in the absolute majority of users , so it is there that plays mainly on the challenge. But of course there are several other characteristics affecting the use of the machine for photography. The first is the quality of the built-in scanner , in terms of resolution , number of bits , and color fidelity .
Some models (in this case Epson and Hp) incorporating a scanner with reader of films, very handy when you need to scan slides or negatives ( although the quality of the scan , in these cases, is not up to that achievable with dedicated scanners for film ) .
The second is the presence of connections for digital camera ( all devices tested are compatible with the PictBridge standard, and can print directly from the camera to the
computer is off ) or a Media Card Reader , with related control functions. In this case, the Canon is not in harmony with others, not being provided or card reader , nor retouching functions , the rest are impossible because the car lacks the color LCD display for previewing images. In fact , Canon has just announced a new family of multifunctional photograph , set in a manner more similar to its competitors , but at the time of testing these machines were not yet available , so we have included a Canon camera of the previous generation , who did a little ‘ from ” reference sample ” to test the differences in approach between a multifunction with photographic capabilities , but more thought to the office, and those born specifically for home use. Finally, another characteristic feature of the multifunctional photograph is the presence of a software bundle including software for data acquisition and cataloging of photographs, photo-editing itself and the so-called ” Photofinishing “, or for activities that allow you to get a photo “complete ” (for example, adding a frame, or by printing a variety of formats on a page, or even creating a real album ) .
From this point of view , as mentioned above , the manufacturers do not pray with the machines and provide all the necessary software . The kits also typically provide drivers and utilities for scanning photos and documents , character recognition programs (which allow you to scan a text document in a format character instead of as Tiff or Jpeg ) and a program for the management of fax functions. In this regard , we open a short parenthesis : Some manufacturers, such as HP, embedded in a multi-function fax modem , making it completely independent from this point of view , while most provide only management software , which usually uses the fax features present Windows ( if you have not turned on, you can do it from the control panel ) and relies on the PC ‘s modem . But this means that first of all , to use the fax machine, your PC must have an analog modem compatible with this transmission protocol , and , secondly , that the transmit / receive fax is only possible on the computer . The presence of the modem , however, makes a multipurpose standalone fax .
We have said that a key feature of a multifunction photo is the quality of the print engine. In fact, from this point of view the equipment under test are well presented , three of them use a motor esacromatico (ie six colors) and one, the Canon uses a mechanical four-color , but of excellent quality , so as to be comparable to esacromatici engine of the other models . In particular , the machine incorporates an Epson print engine similar to that of the printer R300 , and employs six separate color cartridges which supply the head piezoelectric fixing of the machine. The multifunctional HP uses the new mechanics just introduced from the house, also based on six individual ink cartridges and long-life print head , in this case , however , the cartridges are stuck inside the printer and supplying the print head through a system of tubes .
The head is equipped with small tanks that are loaded just before printing, and allow you to have the security to complete the printing of a page even if the toner cartridge for a color runs out. When the machine is turned off , a pump shall cause to flow back unused ink from the reservoir placed on the head of the cartridge to avoid wasting the precious liquid . More traditional print engine Lexmark , which involves the use of two cartridges with built-in head : the first contains the three basic colors (cyan , magenta and yellow ) , while the second can be , optionally , a trichromatic with black, magenta light Cyan and light ( photo for use ) or a normal black cartridge monochrome ( to print documents and graphics ) . The Canon print engine , finally, is a close relative of the one mounted on the Pixma 4000 printer whose quality and inherits advanced functions ( such as duplexing as standard and the ability to print on CDs and DVDs ) .
The Canon engine type is in process color ink cartridges , but it has a special feature: the cartridges are five , because there are two different blacks . One is a photo black, used to print the images , while the other is a black covering , which is used when printing text documents and graphics. Four different solutions , therefore , but one goal: to better manage the photographic universe of home.
Who buys a multifunction photo obviously uses it mainly for digital photography , while more marginal use in ” office” , scanning or printing text documents. We therefore privileged , in our tests , all aspects of the purely photographic equipment . The print engines were tested in the same manner in which we perceive the photo printers , printing our reference images at the best quality allowed by the machine , using the paper from time to time recommended by the manufacturer . For scanners , we have verified the quality and speed of scanning both at an intermediate resolution , both at a higher ( 1. 200 ppi) . We then tested the ergonomics of the machine using ” everyday ” , and the functionality of the software kit provided – especially the drivers. The results are interesting , especially in light of the fact that two of the multifunction tested are very recent ( Lexmark and HP ) , and two have a few months of life ( Epson and Canon ) .
The print quality test showed the Lexmark slight difficulty than the other three (remember that this is a much cheaper car class ), in particular on detail rendition and the relief of the images , even the color fidelity is not is optimal. However , the printed images with Lexmark system – particularly portraits – are pleasant when compared with those printed by competitors , generally more faithful to the original. The reason , apparently , is that the Lexmark driver operates the arbitrary color corrections based on the psychology of users : Depending on the language you have chosen for the menu, find your geographic origin and applies to the color corrections that should be statistically pleasing to those who live in that area. For example clears the skin in Japan and the ” tan ” in Europe. The other three multifunction printing photos of excellent quality with Epson head on detail rendition but slightly affected by too intense colors and markings.
More balanced results from Canon and HP , with the latter as superior tonal balance and the yield advantage for Canon in the survey. Recall that all the tests are done at the highest quality possible and with the controls on the driver in the default positions , acting on them , it is almost always possible to bring the tonal balance of the prints in almost optimal values .
Regarding the speed of printing documents and graphics , it is definitely not the strong point of Epson , Lexmark , but on some test does worse with time sometimes twice as all’RX620 , the fastest car ever is the Canon , which but was penalized in the test by its multi- driver , which automatically introduces a pause between one page and the next to promote drying of the ink , we could not exclude this feature by using the version of the driver provided. Print speeds on the photos are closer together , with Hp generally a bit ‘ faster competitors and Epson to close the group .
As for the scanner component , some difficulty for the Lexmark result of slower competitors. The Lexmark has also repeatedly blocked our computer when we tried to capture a photo at the highest resolution A4 size. Speaking of ergonomics, we really liked Epson and Hp ( the optimal solution of the control panel can be tilted) , some concern for the display of Lexmark ( too small to operate comfortably ) and of course the location of the queue for Canon , clearly born for use office (it has the alphanumeric display , not graphic , but in return the inserter Automatic Document Feeder for the scanner ) .
Overall, the car is more balanced and functional is that of Hp , with inter alia the network interface , while the Epson seems to be the right choice for those who prefer the print quality and did not rush . The machine Lexmark is a good choice if you have a limited budget, while the Canon Pixma is a good compromise if you want to over -use photo hobbyist also take advantage of the machine for your home office .
Multifunction Printers and All-In-One Printers