Computer technology is constantly improving on itself, yet one area that seem appears to receive little attention is printer technology. Many home businesses not only require printing functions but scanning, copying and faxing as well. Frequently, each of these devices is set-up as a separate piece of equipment, requiring not only significant investment of money but of office space as well. One of the newer creations in the field is the multifunction printer, with the ability to print, scan and fax. With a multifunction printer one electronic piece of equipment completes all these jobs and takes up much less space as well as costing much less money than the combination of all devices purchased separately.
However, when the key to a multifunction printer is that it does all of these functions adequately but none of them to the degree of a stand-alone device. There are several features that need to be taken into account when researching a multifunction printer that best meets one's individual needs.
The first feature that needs to be taken into consideration is the type of printer: multi-function printers can be inkjet, laserjet, or color laserjet. Inkjet printers operate by forcing variably-sized droplets of ink onto a piece of paper or similar medium. A laser printer produces text and graphics on plain paper, using the same technology as digital photocopiers; they employ a xerographic printing process but differ from analog photocopiers in that the image is produced by the direct scanning of a laser beam across the printer's photoreceptor.
The speed of a laser printer or inkjet printer is measured by the ppm (pages per minute), the number of pages a laser or inkjet printer can produce in one minute. Print speeds of laser or inkjet printers may vary depending on many factors such as the complexity of the document, page coverage, and the design of the printer itself. Generally, as the speed increases, the quality of the output decreases. A typical inkjet printer may print at speeds that vary between 1 to 28 pages per minute for black text and 1 to 20 pages per minute for color, photographs or graphics. The speed of a mid-range monochrome laser printer may vary between 6 to 25 pages per minute for sharp black texts and 2 to 20 pages per minute for black and white graphics. The print speed of a typical color laser printer's will vary between 6 to 20 pages per minute for black text and 1 to 12 pages per minute for color graphics. Image quality is another feature to examine and depends on the number dots per inch printed. The standard resolution of 600 x 600 dots per inch is sufficient for most everyday printing but is unsuitable for printing quality photographs or graphics. The more dots printed per inch, the higher the image quality.
The scanner function is also of great importance in a multifunction printer that can use two types of scanning technologies. A charge-coupled device (CCD) uses a light-sensitive integrated circuit that stores and displays the data for an image in such a way that each picture element, or dot, in the image is converted into an electrical charge. Contact Image Sensors (CIS), used more with flatbed scanners, place the image sensor in near direct contact with the object to be scanned in contrast to using mirrors to bounce light to a stationary sensor, as is the case in conventional CCD scanners. A CIS typically consists of a linear array of detectors, covered by a focusing lens with LEDs that allow the CIS to be highly power efficient, with many scanners being powered through the minimal line voltage supplied via a USB connection. CIS devices typically produce lower image quality compared to CCD devices but make the printer more durable. Another feature of scanning is how the documents are scanned; they can be fed in a sheet at a time, in which case an automatic document feeder that holds at least 50 sheets facilitates use, or they can be scanned over a flat-bed. The flat-bed ones allow scanning of thicker objects.
The faxing function is properly the one that may be the most simplistic. A minimum fax/modem speed should be 33 Kbps. Other fax features that might be offered are color faxing, fax broadcasting, and/or group dialing, as many multifunction printers do not offer full fax functions.
Finally, given all the functions a multifunction printer requires to carry out, a lack of internal memory is extremely noticeable. While 8 MB of memory may be adequate for home office or small office use, an efficient and effective multifunction printer that have at least 16 MB of memory or more. The greater the amount of memory, the faster that certain multifunction printer processes can be carried out.
Rugged Mobile Printers
Rugged mobile printers are built rugged laptops. Being mobile, they can pretty much fit in your pocket or glove compartment. Rugged mobile printers can be mounted in vehicles next to your rugged notebook or some are mounted directly to a rugged computing device. A rugged printer is made to take a beating and most can withstand drops from nearly 10 feet. The rugged mobile printer is geared around the MIL-STD 810F test confirming its ruggedness and ability to handle the daily rigors of everyday use. From 2.5″ to 4″ receipt printers, to full sheet 8″ x 11″ size printers. A rugged printer will handle any job while on the road printing inventory receipts or printing law enforcement issued citations.