Digital TrendsCamarillo, CA – October 2017: Almost three years and over 40 articles later, I have covered numerous products and technology news for the immensely popular online digital technology magazine, Digital Trends. My beat covers all aspects of computer-related news and reviews. For example, my first few articles included information about DDR4 memory, USB 3.1, Sata Express, and Nvidia G-Sync, .

But since then I have covered everything from mouse and keyboard combos to 4K 360 degree digital cameras, and everything in between. My two latest news stories at Digital Trends cover Bluetooth Mesh technology and the latest, fastest Wi-Fi technology, 802.11ax.

You can get a complete list of my articles on Digital Trends here.


 

William Harrel's writing at PCMagCamarillo, July 13, 2016 — Part of the Ziff-Davis, one of the leaders in online technology media empire,  PC Magazine, or PCMag, as it is known online, is one of the oldest and most respected and trusted technology news outlets on the Internet.

Currently, my beat at PCMag is printers, labeling systems, and scanners, both document and photo scanners, all of which coincides with my background in desktop publishing.

As we move from mid- to late-2017, after just over a year of writing for PCMag, my number of published reviews will surpass 100 within the next month or so. (This post was updated in early September, 2017

A list of my reviews at www.pcmag.com.


 

Editors' ChoicePROS

  • Excellent print quality. Light and compact. SD card slot. Ethernet support. Two black inks. Two paper input trays. 20-sheet ADF. XXL ink cartridges available.

  • CONS

    A little pricey. Somewhat high running costs.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    It may be a little pricey, but the Canon Pixma TR8520 all-in-one printer produces terrific text, graphics and photos, and it has a strong feature set.

Earlier this year, Canon replaced its outdated cube-shaped MG-series (consumer-grade photo) Pixma printers with new TS-series Pixma models. Meanwhile, the Pixma TR8520 Wireless Home Office All-in-One Printer ($199.99), one of two models in the Canon’s TR series (it has a slightly lower-end sibling, the soon-to-be-reviewed Pixma TR7520), edges out the past-its-prime MX-series (family and home-based office) Pixmas. Specifically, the TR8520 replaces the Editors’ Choice Pixma MX922. The TR8520 all-in-one printer is smaller than the Canon MX922, redesigned in and out, and supports Bluetooth, making it our new top pick for family and home-based office, low-volume printing and copying.
Read the entire review at PCMag

My review of Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 Small-in-One at Computer ShopperWhen you stop and think about it, some of the things that our PCs, smartphones, and tablets allow us to do truly are amazing. Printing exquisite-looking photos on small, inexpensive inkjet printers is one of them. It’s not just having the ability to print photos that’s so awesome, though. What’s even more incredible is, when everything comes together just right—stunning content, taken in the right lighting, printed with a quality machine on premium photo paper—how striking the results can be.

It’s no wonder, then, that printing photos at home has become so popular, and that three of the top inkjet-printer makers—Canon, Epson, and HP—all offer machines tweaked and marketed as photo printers. If you choose the right one and feed it with the right ink, paper, and digital data, churning out masterpieces of your own isn’t particularly difficult, even if it costs a little more per photo than at Costco or the corner drug store.

You must start with the right printer, though. Today’s review unit, the $249.99-MSRP Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 Small-in-One, may face some impressive competitors, but it’s got some fight in it. A newcomer to Epson’s established Small-in-One line of all-in-one (AIO) printers (in this case, it prints, copies, and scans), the XP-8500 has photo quality that’s among the best in its class.

Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 (Control Panel)

But that doesn’t necessarily make your printer-picking decision easy. During the past year, Canon has released a wave of highly capable photo-centric models in its Pixma TS- and Pixma G-series MegaTank lines, while HP has trotted out its Envy Photo 7855 and a couple of other Envy Photo models. And Epson’s own Expression Premium and Expression Photo brands boast some formidable photo printers of their own. (Prior to the XP-8500, it had been a while since we’d seen a new Expression Photo model.)

The XP-8500 is a six-ink printer; the additional inks help increase detail and extend the printer’s color range. In just the six-ink category alone, you will find the Canon Pixma TS9020 and Pixma TS8020 (as well as the just-released Pixma TS9120 and Pixma TS8120, which we’ll be reviewing in the coming weeks), as well as the Epson Expression Photo XP-960. And, while they vary in features and capacity (the XP-960 can print tabloid-size 11×17-inch photos, for example), guess what? They all print mighty good photos.

A step down from those are Canon’s and Epson’s five-ink photo printers, which include the Pixma TS6020, Pixma TS6120, Pixma TS5020, and TS5120, as well as the Expression Photo XP-860. The Canon G-series MegaTank printers (there are four of them, as of this writing) and the HP Envy Photo models (three of these) use only four inks, but they still print respectable photos. Our point? The XP-8500 has, by our count, more than 15 in-market rivals. (And there are other so-called “photo printers” out there beyond these.) Granted, as mentioned, they come at varying prices with a wide range of features. But many of them print photos comparable to what we saw from the XP-8500, and to each other.

So, for this review (and the Canon Pixmas coming up), we have our work cut out for us, without turning these comparisons into the War and Peace of consumer-grade photo printers. What we cansay at the start, though: Versus its most direct competitors, we didn’t come up with any compelling reasons not to buy the XP-8500 for churning out your keeper photos. This is one terrific little AIO.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

  • Editors' ChoicePROS

    Good print quality. Comprehensive, easy-to-use label design and print mobile app. Strong selection of label types in several color schemes, including fabric iron-on labels. Runs on AC or battery power. Good value for the price.

  • CONS

    Cannot use with Windows or Mac PCs. Requires replaceable (rather than rechargeable) batteries.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    With excellent design and comprehensive print software, the reasonably priced Brother P-touch Cube prints several sizes and colors of good-quality plastic (laminated) labels from your iOS or Android mobile device.

Most professional- and consumer-grade label printers (such as our Editors’ Choice Brother QL-820NWB and the Dymo MobileLabeler, respectively) let you design and print labels from your computer and/or mobile device, but the Brother P-touch Cube ($59.99) is the first one that we’ve reviewed that cannot be tethered to a PC or a Mac via a USB cable. In other words, its only mode of operation is connecting wirelessly to your iPhone, iPad, or Android mobile device. The good news is that the bundled Brother P-touch Design&Print app is simple to use, allowing you to produce a variety of good-looking plastic labels for your kitchen, garage, bedrooms, office, and schoolroom, making the P-touch Cube an easy top pick as an entry-level label printer for families, small workplaces, and classrooms.
Read the entire review at PCMag

  • My review of the Xerox VersaLink B400/DN at PCMagPROS

    Fast. Excellent print quality. Strong paper capacity that’s expandable. Has 110,000-page maximum duty cycle. Very high-yield toner cartridges available. Strong security features. Much lighter than competitors.

  • CONS

    Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and NFC capabilities are extra. Somewhat high running costs.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Xerox VersaLink B400/DN is a trim, high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer that prints well and quickly, and it’s highly expandable, but lower running costs would make it a better value.

Priced between the Brother HL-L6300DW and the Dell Smart Printer S5830dn, both top picks, the Xerox VersaLink B400/DN ($699) is a mid-to-high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer designed for small-to-medium-size offices and workgroups. Like its competitors, it has a high maximum monthly duty cycle; it prints well—and fast—and it’s highly expandable. The B400/DN supports many connectivity and security features, but—as on the Dell S5830dn—many are available only as add-ons. In most ways, though, the B400/DN holds up to its Brother and Dell competitors, except that a slightly high cost per page (CPP) leaves it just shy of receiving our Editors’ Choice nod.

Review of the HP Officejet Pro 7720 Wide-Format All-in-One on Computer ShopperEach year, due primarily to Brother (and to a lesser degree, to HP), the stable of available tabloid-capable (11×17-inch) all-in-one (AIO) printers widens. Many of them can print, copy, scan, and fax, and the AIOs themselves get less expensive to buy and to use.

Nearly all of Brother’s Business Smart Plus AIOs, among them the Brother MFC-J5830DW, support at least tabloid-size printing, and several, including the recent Editors’ Choice Brother MFC-J6935DW, come with scanners and automatic document feeders (ADFs) that can handle wide documents for scans, copies, and faxes.

While Brother makes many wide-format printers with a myriad of feature configurations, HP up until now offered only one, the Officejet Pro 7740, that had the ability to print, copy, scan, and fax in tabloid. Now, though, the Palo Alto printer giant is offering a pared-down version of the 7740, the $199.99-list Officejet Pro 7720. It’s different from the 7740 in several key ways. The newer model, for instance, comes with only one 250-sheet paper-input tray, versus the 7740’s two 250-sheet cassettes.

The biggest difference between these two Officejets, though, is that the newer one has a smaller scanner and ADF, rendering it capable of copying, scanning, and faxing only legal-size (8.5×14-inch) pages. Aside from the smaller paper-input capacity and the inability to run tabloid-size pages through the ADF and scanner, though, these two Officejets are the spitting image of each other. But as you’ll see as you read on, what you give up for the $50 list price difference between them is significant.

We should pause here to add that Epson, too, makes a few wide-format printers meant for small businesses or workgroups, including the WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One, the WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One, and the WorkForce ET-16500 EcoTank Wide-Format All-in-One Supertank. The difference between the first two is that the latter comes with two 250-sheet paper drawers, while the former has only one. The ET-16500 is one of Epson’s “bulk ink” AIOs that comes with tens of thousands of pages’ worth of ink in the box, and, as a result, it lists for about $1,000.

HP OfficeJet Pro 7720 (Introduction)

Another significant distinction between the Epson models, compared to the HP and Brother AIOs, is that all three of them print wide-format pages up to 13×19 inches, instead of 11×17. All three are simply WorkForce models rather than WorkForce Pro AIOs, meaning that their printheads contain fewer ink-nozzle chips (two chips, as opposed to the four on the WorkForce Pro models’ printheads). In addition, the WF-7610 and WF-7620 have been around since 2014; they lack a few recent mobile-connectivity and other features, and, as we’ll discuss later, they have substantially higher running costs.

In any case, back to the Officejet Pro 7720, the newest of the bunch. As mentioned, you give up a fair bit versus the Officejet Pro 7740, including the features listed earlier, as well as an ADF capable of scanning and copying two-sided pages automatically. On the other hand, the footprint and price are both smaller, and you get the same exceptional print and copy quality. The 7740 is a highly capable wide-format inkjet with many desirable attributes, and so goes the 7720. Nowadays, though, the competition among tabloid-size inkjet AIOs is brisker than ever.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

Expose of 802.11ax from Digital TrendsBefore the current Wi-Fi standard, called 802.11ac, wireless broadband was never quite robust enough: Too many devices were vying for your limited, inefficiently distributed bandwidth. This latest standard has proven faster and more reliable, and WiGig and mesh networking will help. But with the ever-increasing proliferation of Wi-Fi devices — PCs, smartphones, tablets, webcams, printers, wearables, refrigerators, and more — it won’t be long until we’re playing catch up again.

According to estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the number of internet-connected gadgets for an average family of four is now at 10 per household. The cross-government trade group estimates that number will reach 50 wirelessly connected devices by 2022 — all competing for the same bandwidth, over the same connection.

The 6th generation of Wi-Fi has been certified.

“The Wi-Fi device and traffic explosion, higher density Wi-Fi deployments, growing use of outdoor Wi-Fi, and the need to support a great variety of different device types will require more efficient Wi-Fi implementations that can help to deliver richer experiences for enterprise and consumer applications that are hungry for bandwidth,” according to Andrew Zignani, Senior Analyst at ABI Research.

The good news in all this is that the people who tend to Wi-Fi standards haven’t been idle. The 6th generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, has been certified, and new products based on the standard are underway. Broadcom, a maker of circuit boards and other gizmos that drive today’s information technology, has just announced Max Wifi, the first 802.11ax chips designed for use in routers for homes and businesses, as well as wireless gadgets such as smartphones and tablets.

The need for massive increases in bandwidth and throughput is upon us. The question is, is 802.11ax enough, or is it too little too late?

Read the entire article at Digital Trends


 

Editors' Choice

  • PROS

    Fast scanning. Excellent optical-character-recognition (OCR) accuracy. Massive input capacity. Supports tabloid-size and larger pages. Robust, easy-to-use software.

  • CONS

    Slow at saving to searchable PDF.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Kodak i3300 is a fast, high-volume document scanner, and it comes with excellent full-featured scanning and processing software at a competitive price.

Positioned between the Editors’ Choice Kodak i3250 and the highly capable Kodak i3500, the Kodak i3300 Scanner ($4,495) is one of Kodak Alaris’ i3000 series of heavy-duty, high-volume document scanners. Like several of its siblings, the i3300 quickly and accurately scans one-and two-sided documents up to tabloid-size (11-by-17 inches) and beyond. Compared with some other document scanners we’ve tested, it’s a bit slow when scanning to searchable PDF, but not enough so to detract from its suitability for midsize-to-large document-management systems. That makes it a highly sensible choice—and our new top pick—as a wide-format high-volume document scanner for large workgroups and medium-size offices.
Read the entire article at PCMag

Review of the HP LaserJet Enterprise M653x at PCMag

  • PROS

    Very fast. Good overall print quality. Strong paper-input capacity. Very-high-yield toner cartridges. Customizable control panel. Memory is upgradeable to 2GB. Optional hard drive.

  • CONS

    Expensive. Running costs can be high. Subpar photo output. Software and driver installation via the web is problematic.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    HP’s LaserJet Enterprise M653x prints terrific-looking text and graphics, and so-so photos, at an impressive clip, but its running costs are a bit high—especially for such a pricey color laser printer.

HP’s LaserJet Pro laser printers are designed primarily to support small-to-medium-size offices, workgroups, and businesses consisting of about five or so users. The company’s LaserJet Enterprise models, such as the LaserJet Enterprise M653x standalone color laser printer ($2,149), however, are aimed more toward larger offices, workgroups, and corporations with up to 40 or so networked users. In many ways—high print quality, high maximum-duty cycles, and expandability—these two LaserJet brands are often similar.The Enterprise machines, however, are typically faster; they come with significantly higher recommended monthly print volumes, access to higher-yield toner cartridges that deliver lower running costs, and, of course higher purchase prices. The M653x provides all that and more, but given its high price, slightly too-high cost per page, and subpar photo output, it comes up a bit short to make it a top pick mid-to-heavy volume color laser printer for larger workgroups, offices, and enterprises.
Read the entire review at PCMag