Print, scan, copy and fax with one single device. We put 10
all-in-ones through their paces.
The average home study or office doesn’t have room for a printer, scanner, photocopier and fax machine. But, if you buy an all-in-one, you’ll not only have enough room left over for a PC, you’ll save a small fortune in the process.
Cramming all of these vital features into a device that isn’t much larger than a standard inkjet, all-in-ones have been rapidly growing in popularity since our last group test a year ago. Now, you don’t have to compromise on quality in any area: photos are indistinguishable from dedicated photo printers, while scans are comparable to high-end standalone scanners.
But the main reason for the 18 percent increase in sales is due to the incredible value these machines offer. When you consider that the A-Listed photo inkjet – the HP Photosmart 8230 – costs under $300, it’s astonishing that all-in-ones start at just $102. Even top-end models don’t top $403, making them superb value compared to their standalone rivals.
When it comes to features, you tend to get what you pay for, although there are exceptions: several of the budget models include media card slots. As the prices rise, so do the extras, including CD/DVD printing, transparency adaptors for scanning negatives and automatic document feeders for scanning or copying multipage documents.
Every model on test here has a PictBridge port for direct printing from a compatible digital camera, but one feature that’s starting to disappear is fax: only two of this month’s models offer fax capabilities.
But affordable as the 10 machines here may be, it’s the cost of ink that ultimately determines value. Our Online photo printing feature involved more sweat than ink, so we haven’t been able to test the all-in-ones here in the same way. Fortunately, most use the same print engines as those tested two months ago, so our previous figures still stand up. For the rest, we ran continuous rundown tests to obtain figures, so you should use the results on page 82 as a companion to the individual reviews when choosing which model to buy.
Quality and speed vary considerably, so we’ve exhaustively judged the printing, scanning and copying modes of all 10 devices. Every action has been timed and every resulting image or photo examined, so you can be sure to find the all-in-one to suit your needs over the following pages.
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This Group Test appeared in the July, 2006 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine