Home and Small Business Printing and Copying: All-in-One Units Provide Multiple Duplication and Fax Functions

Canon, Epson and Hewlett-Packard are offering all-in-one inkjet machines that can give a home or small business the duplication and communication capabilities that would have been considered minor miracles a few years ago. The best part is that the units are available for under $300.

Here’s what most of the all-in-one units can do, with inkjet quality and performance that will be acceptable to most users:

  • Print from your computer, PC or Mac, through either an Ethernet, wireless or USB connection, just like the old single-function printers do.
  • Copy documents, both black-and-white or color.
  • Send and receive fax documents, again in black-and-white or color. At least one unit comes with both individual and group speed dial setups.
  • Scan pictures and produce color or black-and-white 4-by-6, 5-by-7 or 8 ½-by-11 prints, depending upon the paper it is fed.
  • View and print pictures from a camera memory card. Will also remove redeye.
  • Print blank notebook, checklist, music and graph pages in either metric or English measurements.

All in One Unit

Some people don’t need all those functions. But they’re now all available in one unit for little more than one would pay for any two of the functions. Today’s all-in-one unit is especially tempting to buyers who remember how much all those functions would have cost a few years ago.

The deals are akin to those save-more-by-spending-more marketing traps. And even though all the functions might not be needed now, one never knows when he or she might be able to use one of them in the future.

Some units, including the Hewlett-Packard C7200 series, have a computer-like screen which serves as a handy step-by-step interactive guide to operating the various functions.

Memory Card Photos

The photo menu, for instance, offers the option to select pictures from a camera memory card and then print them in album, panoramic, wallet or passport size.

A few cautions:

  • At least one unit pauses after printing 10 or 15 copies. It restarts itself, but the breaks make one wonder whether there is a jam, an exhausted cartridge or if the unit is out of paper. Apparently it is just catching its breath.
  • Since they are multiple function units, the all-in-one machines take a while to set up and operate. They come with quick setup guides and operation manuals which most buyers will need to read.

Perhaps the biggest problem presented by the all-in-one units is deciding which one to buy. The answers depend upon the available brands, models and prices, estimated cartridge costs, individual evaluations of quality, and individual needs regarding printing speeds and special features.