Office equipment, particularly those models meant for regular home use, can be confusing and expensive to purchase. Consumers who educate themselves will find it more than worth the effort. For instance, without understanding the difference between scanners and multifunction printers and how they relate to daily jobs, it would be easy to waste money on machines that weren't up to their intended tasks. The following can help shoppers decide whether they need a scanner or a printing device with many functions.
What is a Multifunction Printer?
Printers take a digital file from a computer and transfer it to paper. Daisy wheel printers of the past did this using ink ribbons and letter blocks, much like typewriters. Today most printers use lasers or inkjets to create documents. However, they can also perform other, related functions faster and more conveniently than having a machine to perform each job.
For instance, printers often have scanning elements, allowing you to scan a document and digitize it for use on your computer. Your printer may also have copier functionality, allowing you to scan and print multiple copies of a document. Finally, multifunction printers can also be used as fax machines when connected to a phone line or a computer connected to the Internet.
Because they can be used to fill different jobs, multifunctional printers go by different names. Printer-scanner-copiers, printer-faxes and all-in-ones are common names.
When is a Scanner a Better Choice?
Scanners are built only for digitizing documents, whether they're contracts or hand-lettered logos. Once scanned, these images can be shared, manipulated or sent to complementary devices for printing, broadcasting or manufacturing. The quality of the final product depends largely on the abilities of the scanner. Unfortunately, multifunction printers may not be built for high scanning quality, making them unable to perform the work.
Multipurpose printers might not be able to keep up with the amount of scanning needed without breaking down frequently, and they may be more expensive to operate and keep running compared to a single purpose scanning machine. How much a piece of equipment costs entails more than just the purchase price. It's important to consider how much it will cost to operate, maintain and repair as well.
When is a Multifunction Printer Your Best Bet?
Multifunction printers do a lot of jobs, but they often don't do any of them particularly well. They can make decent scans and print decent 10x15cm photos. They'll provide you with legible scans you can reproduce at scale. They're typically easy to use and affordable to purchase and use, though they may not have a long life of use.
For those who are looking for short-term affordability, average performance and easy access to ink, a mid range consumer multifunction printer is a safe bet. Crafters, photographers and others who may be in need of improved graphics should strongly consider specialty scanning options.