Even so, both kinds of printers have their admirers and adherents. Many, many offices and businesses, such as auto-repair shops, insurance agencies, and title companies, don’t need to print in color—and indeed, will garner real savings by opting for old-school, strictly mono lasers. At the same time, many of these types of businesses, small or large, often need to make copies, scan documents and images, and at times even send or receive a fax or two. That’s where the multifunction angle comes in, and it’s where these kind of printers deliver their value.
Granted, many businesses purchase single-function print-only laser models because either (1) the printer is too busy to stop for scanning or making copies, or (2) when it does need to print, what it’s printing is too critical to wait for a long copy or fax job to complete. (After all, you don’t want to keep your customers waiting.) But for those users whodo need all of an MFP’s functionality—print, scan, copy, and perhaps the occasional fax—and can wait for the various operations, Dell has recently released a revised cadre of laser-class machines, including the topic of this review, the $219-MSRP E515dw Multifunction Monochrome Printer. (We call these “laser-class” printers because, technically, these printers don’t use lasers inside to draw your page image onto a print drum; they use an array of non-moving LEDs. From the outside, though, they’re mostly indistinguishable from lasers.)
For those home-based and small-office users who need their MFP to print and copy in color, Dell has also put out an entry-level, color-laser-class machine, the $329-MSRP E525w Color Multifunction Printer, which we have on hand and will be reviewing shortly. Overall, these multifunction machines are part of a group of five printers the company offered up in mid-2015 to refresh its line. The other three are another MFP, the E514dw Monochrome Laser Printer (essentially, the same as our review unit, but rated for slower speeds and with no fax function, for about $50 less), and two single-function models, the Smart Printer S2810dn and the E310dw, both of which we have reviewed. (Hit the links for the skinny on those.)
While all five printers in this group have relatively low out-of-pocket prices, their comparatively high per-page printing costs (which we’ll cover in some detail later on) relegates them to low-volume, occasional-use machines. That’s downright fine, so long as you know that going into the purchase, and that is indeed the kind of printer that you’re looking for.
The E515dw has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 10,000 pages, which is low for a laser-class machine in general. (“Duty cycle?” “LED printer?” See our primer, Buying a Printer: 20 Terms You Need to Know.) But if you plan on printing anywhere close to that amount, as we’ll get into in the Setup & Paper Handling section, this is not the right printer for that. In fact, because of the relatively high cost per page (CPP), we suggest you don’t opt for the E515dw if you plan to print more than a few hundred pages each month—say, 300 to 400. The more you print, the more you should consider a higher-volume model.
But if your print volume fits that 400-pages-max profile, and all you need is the occasional black-and-white document copied (or you don’t mind if your copies are converted to gray scale), this printer isn’t a bad deal at all. The list price may be $220, but we saw the E515dw selling as low as $179.99 at a few non-Dell outlets when we wrote this in mid-August 2015. And, as mentioned, if you don’t need the fax functionality (many people and small businesses don’t, nowadays), there’s always the E514dw. We spotted that slightly stripped-down model as low as $129.99, down from an MSRP of $179.99.
In any case, on the whole, we liked this little MFP LED printer—especially as a low-volume, occasional-use machine for a small office or workgroup, or perhaps a personal-laser companion on your desk. It delivers good value so long as you set your page-output volume expectations appropriately.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
Looking back over our Android-tablet reviews for 2015, we realized that we haven’t reviewed a new 7-inch tablet all year. (Indeed, the number of new Android tablets on the whole seems to be way down.) The low end is taking on a new shape, too: As we thought in 2014, 8 inches has become the new standard for compact Androids. You might say 8-inchers are the new 7-inchers, in terms of both popularity and price.
Case in point is last year’s $179.99-MSRP Lenovo Tab A8, which we reviewed in July of 2014. At that time, the Tab A8 was one of many entry-level compact Android tablets available, with most of the 8-inch models selling for just under $200 and most of the 7-inchers going for a bit over $100 ($129.99, or thereabouts). Here we are, just a year later, and Lenovo’s sequel to the Tab A8, the Tab 2 A8, raises the quality level for the price over last year’s model (even though both slates use the same processor). And it also lists for $20 less: a $159.95 MSRP. (Plus, as we wrote this in August 2015, it was selling at shop.lenovo.com and several other places for $40 less than that, or $119.99.)
Plenty of things about this slate place it firmly in the “entry-level” column, such as its relatively low-resolution, 1,280×800-pixel display, a mediocre 16GB of storage, and a relatively slow 1.3GHz MediaTek processor. Even so, its better-than-adequate display panel and Dolby-enhanced sound make it a good device for watching videos and for other kinds of not-so-resource-intensive media consumption.
Its shoulder-shrug-at-best performance on our benchmark tests suggests that this little slate might be somewhat sluggish, compared to other competing 8-inchers. The numbers suggest that perhaps you might notice it even when performing some everyday tasks—such as composing and responding to e-mails, Web browsing, and social-media interaction. But that was not the impression we got from our hands-on trials. As long as we didn’t try to push the Tab 2 A8 too hard, as we’ll get into in our Performance section later on, the Tab 2 A8 performed just fine.
That said, it’s also important to point out that the Tab 2 A8 simply could not complete a few parts of our cadre of tests. This, in turn, relegates this slate to a not-small group of entry-level- and midrange-performing tablets capable of most of the basics, but not up to the stresses of the most demanding Android games and apps.
In short: It’s dressed in fine accoutrements for media consumption—a good screen and speakers—but at the core this is a basic tablet. It’s ideal, we think, for first-time tablet buyers, for children (to keep their hands off Mom’s and Dad’s much pricier iPads), and anybody else looking for an inexpensive-yet-capable compact Android to help them keep in touch friends, family, and the world.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper
Laser printers are as staid as modern PC technology gets. We’ve been saying for some time now that, aside from tacking on the occasional new productivity and convenience feature, or increasing speeds a smidge on occasion, we haven’t seen any heavy-hitting improvements to the laser printer in ages.
If something is going to change in lasers, though, HP is as predictable a source for that innovation as printer makers come. And what the company has done is not so much change the printer, as much as its diet.
That would be the toner. HP’s recent toner reformulation, dubbed ColorSphere 3, is part of an overall toner-cartridge and print-engine revamp that it is calling “JetIntelligence.” According to HP, between the toner reformulation and logic built into both the “new Original HP Toner cartridges with JetIntelligence” and the printer, your LaserJet will use up to 53 percent less energy, take up to 40 percent less space, as well as wake up and print duplex (two-sided) pages faster.
In fact, in a recent press release, HP’s vice president and general manager of LaserJet hardware and technology, Tuan Tran, claimed, “Today’s announcement represents our most significant laser printing re-engineering since the introduction of the first LaserJet in 1984.”
The biggest thing to hit the laser in 30-plus years? That’s worth a closer look to see whether there’s heft or hype there. HP sent us one of these initial printers based on JetIntelligence and the new toner tech, the $429.99-MSRP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dwBest Price at Amazon. Again, many of the JetIntelligence benefits come from reformulated toner and reengineered cartridges, which we’ll discuss in some detail in the next section.
What we will say here, though, is that HP’s JetIntelligence promotional material makes a lot of the idea that you get significantly more prints per cartridge (33 percent more, according to its estimates), rather than more prints for your money. And this is a key distinction: While that may mean fewer toner-cartridge swap-outs over the life of the printer, the technology doesn’t necessarily mean more money in your pocket. While this is a great little printer, as you’ll see in our Setup & Paper Handling section later on, it is somewhat pricey to use, especially for color pages.
Hence, as we’ve said about many an entry-level and midrange printer, no matter how attractive and up-to-date it is, this model just doesn’t compute for environments with heavy print loads. HP does offer some uncharacteristically high-volume toner cartridges (up to about 2,400 pages) for a printer this size. But, again, the actual per-page cost of using the Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw is too high for all but small and home-based offices with print loads of, say, just a few hundred pages per month.
Again, we’ll discuss why this makes sense as a low-volume, personal color laser printer later on. In the meantime, though, know that the M277dw is a sharp little color laser all-in-one (AIO), well worth taking a good look at if you’re not trying to outfit a business that prints all day, every day. As we wrote this in early August 2015, HP was offering a $100 discount off the MSRP, trimming the price to $329, so this model could make good sense for environments that need modest numbers of color-fast prints.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper
How many industries can you think of that offer their products at a lowball price and make their profits on refills or replacement parts for those products—other than the printer industry, that is? One that comes to mind readily is the shaving razor business, perhaps because replacement razor blades are infamous for prices nearly as steep as those of printer ink cartridges. In fact, barring certain pharmaceuticals and perfumes, printer ink is one of the world’s most expensive liquids, and one of the more profitable.
Perhaps that’s the reason buying printer ink is so annoying to so many people: Many of us suspect that there’s no good reason (other than profit, a strong incentive indeed) that printer ink should cost so much—it’s not warranted from a raw-materials standpoint, anyway. Well, printer and imaging giant Epson, with its new (new to North America, that is) EcoTank ink delivery system, has set out to change all that, starting with a few of the company’s business-oriented WorkForce models—printers that cost more up front, but that won’t need ink refills for a long time.
To get us started with EcoTank, Epson sent us the topic of today’s review the $499.99 MSRP WorkForce ET-4550. In actuality, this is the WorkForce WF-2650 All-in-One Printer—a close cousin to the $149.99 MSRP WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One we reviewed a few months ago—with a bulge on its right side for EcoTank ink tanks, as shown below. The WF-2650 lists for $129.99, but at this writing in early August 2015 is on sale for $79.99 at Epson.com and everywhere else.
Yes, you’re reading this right. Essentially, the new ET-4550 is an under-$80 printer transformed into a $500 machine by the inclusion of the EcoTank system. Well, make that the inclusion of the EcoTank system and, according to Epson, “up to two years'” supply of ink. In this case, keeping in mind that the WF-2650 is a low-volume printer, that’s about 5,000 black-and-white pages and 8,500 color pages. On top of that, Epson throws in an additional “bonus” 6,000 monochrome pages, for an in-box yield of 11,000 monochrome and 8,500 color pages.
Spreading that across two years comes out to just over 450 pages per month, which, while far below the WF-2650’s 3,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle (the manufacturer’s recommended volume without undue wear on the machine), is plenty for this low-volume printer. (Frankly, if you need to print much more than that, you should consider a higher-yield machine.) Even so, while EcoTank itself is a step in the right direction, when it comes time to purchase refills, you should be pleasantly surprised there, too.
We’ll look at EcoTank, the technology and how it changes the cost-per-page equation, on the next page, in the Design, Features, & EcoTank section. Before moving on, though, we should also mention the other EcoTank models, starting with two lower-yield Expression consumer-grade models, the $379 MSRP Expression ET-2500 EcoTank and the $399 MSRP Expression ET-2550. As for the WorkForce business-oriented models, they are the $429 MSRP WorkForce ET-2500, the $499 WorkForce ET-4550 (our review unit), and the flagship $1,199 MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-R4640.
The smaller and cheaper ET-2500 comes with less capacity and less ink (4,000 monochrome, 6,500 color), and the high-volume WorkForce Pro model comes with ink for 20,000 monochrome and 20,000 color pages (and, of course, replacement ink is less expensive on a per-page basis). We will look at these other EcoTank models as soon as Epson makes them available.
Of the pre-EcoTank WorkForce models, the 2000 series were the smallest and least capable, in terms of volume—and, like most under-$100 printers, their cost per page (CPP) was too high to support all but a modest print volume. From a cost-of-operation perspective, EcoTank (as you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on) all but eliminates the excessively high CPPs incurred by users of low-volume models, and it greatly reduces the cost of using high-volume machines, too.
Granted, there’s a huge gap between the volume capabilities of this EcoTank model and the next one up, the $1,199 WF-R4640, which might, we suspect, convince some small and home-based offices to try to coax more pages from the ET-4550 rather than spring for an additional $700. In any case, now you can push your low-volume business-oriented AIO to its limits—without it costing you a small fortune in ink.
Other than that, the ET-4550 is your typical entry-level printer, complete with features you’d find on a typical beginner’s WorkForce AIO.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.
We’ve been looking at Dell’s Venue line of Android tablets (not to be confused with “Venue Pro,” the company’s Windows slates) for a few years now. It wasn’t, however, until February 2015’s review of the premium Venue 8 7000 that we really began to take notice of the family. Prior to the 7000 series, Dell’s Venue tablets were, for the most part, ho-hum, budget-friendly models not much different from many others on the market.
With the 7000 models, though, came a revelation. They had aluminum chassis, ultra-high-res displays, high-end sound and other hardware, and Intel’s RealSense 3D camera technology—in other words, a complete reversal, going from entry-level to premium, from previous Venue models. And now, with the $499-MSRP Venue 10 7000 Series, Dell elevates the Venue brand to an all-new level of performance and elegance.
We tested model 7040 in the new 10-inch family. As you’ll see in our Features section later on, in addition to RealSense, this Venue 10 kept many of the features that made the $399-list Venue 8 7000 such an interesting tablet. Meanwhile, this ultra-high-end slate is available at Dell.com in four configurations, starting with a stand-alone tablet with 16GB of storage at $499.
After that comes another stand-alone version, with 32GB of storage, at $549, followed by a combination tablet/keyboard dock with 16GB of storage ($629). Finally, there is the flagship configuration (our review unit), model 7040, with the keyboard dock and 32GB of storage for $679.
Okay, for starters: You’re probably thinking that every one of the above prices is way high for an Android tablet, and you’re right if you look at the field. Normally, we’d agree with you, but this Venue is, like a few other premium slates we’ve seen (such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z2), in a word, elegant. Part of being elegant, of course, is the ability to command a high price. Also part of the deal: that you perform well. Like the Venue 8 7000 before it, as we’ll discuss in the Performance section later on, the Intel Atom-based Venue 10 7040 did rather well on our battery of benchmark tests—especially our demanding battery-rundown test, which is a further key attribute of a premium tablet.
Unlike the Venue 8 7000, though, this Venue has several hardware features beyond an elegant appearance and 3D camera, starting with a barrel attached to the bottom edge. Somewhat reminiscent of the grip on Lenovo’s Yoga tablets, this not only holds the unit’s speakers, but also its battery, and it acts as the bulkier part of the hinge for attaching the tablet’s matching keyboard dock. All of that we’ll discuss in more detail next in the section.
Meanwhile, each time we review one of these high-end Android slates, the question that inevitably arises is, is all this high-end hardware and elegant design worth the additional expense, considering that you can buy a not-so-fancy tablet for much less, or an Apple iPad for around the same bucks? Well, one mitigating factor: We are not seeing nearly as many new full-size (9-inch screen and above) Android models anymore, and especially not 10.5-inch slates like this one. Lately, 10-inch-class tablets have become somewhat scarce, and most of them are higher-end models like this one. (One of the most significant additions to the class is actually a Windows model: Microsoft’s high-profile Surface 3, with a 10.8-inch screen and starting at the same $499.)
Even so, we’ve looked at and tested most or all of them, and few measure up to this Venue. Dell’s Venue 10 7000 Series, especially the two models bundled with Dell’s slick keyboard dock, is an impressive Android—even a suitable now-and-then laptop replacement for folks willing to settle for a 10.5-inch display.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper
For some years now, we’ve squawked that laser and laser-class LED printers were, in terms of their per-page cost of toner, getting too expensive to use. That’s not because they were doing anything different—in fact, the category has been rather steady, nay, stagnant, for some time. But in that period, business inkjets with aggressive ink costs have swooped in and taken away these printers’ lunch, and have their eyes on their milkshakes, too.
If OKI Data’s most recent round of laser-class printers are any indication, at least one printer maker has heard that warning, or at least seen the flock of inkjets circling overhead. In fact, more than one of that company’s most recent monochrome laser-class printers—among them the OKI B512dnwe reviewed back in April of this year—delivered a cost per page (CPP) for toner under 1 cent, given certain circumstances.
It’s good to see laser and LED printers showing signs of life here in 2015, and the Japanese imaging giant has surprised us again, here with its $199-MSRP B412bn Monochrome Printer—the first under-$200 laser-class printer we’ve seen that delivers an under-2-cent per-page cost. The B412dn is the smaller of a pair of single-function monochrome laser-class printers released recently, with the $349 B432dn being the other.
For the additional $150 in the B432dn, you get, among other things, an 80,000-page monthly duty cycle (versus 60,000 in the B412dn) and support for higher-yield (12,000-page) toner cartridges. (That latter factor, the bigger toner cartridge, allows for an even lower CPP.) The B432dn is also rated at 7 pages per minute (ppm) faster, or 42ppm versus 35ppm.
Aside from these somewhat minor differences, these two single-function models—as well as the much faster-rated (47ppm), higher-capacity (100,000-page monthly duty cycle), and much higher-priced ($499 MSRP) B512dn mentioned earlier—are essentially the same in size, appearance, and features. It all comes down to how much you print, and how much savings you might actually garner from a lower CPP. For some users, the slices of a penny per page saved with the B432dn versus the B412dn might be well worth the additional $150 over the long haul.
That said, then, if a midrange laser-class machine like this OKI is what you need, the only real question mark is your day-to-day print volume. To that end, we’ll take a somewhat detailed look at what all these numbers mean—in terms of actual cost and savings as they relate to this OKI.
Before moving on to the next section, though, we should clarify why we call this a “laser-class” printer, as opposed to a pure “laser” printer. Like many of today’s low-cost laser-class machines, this model does not use an actual scanning laser to trace the transfer of toner onto the drum and ultimately to the paper. Instead, it employs a fixed light-emitting diode (LED) array to perform essentially the same function.
The benefits of using this LED technology for printer makers are many, including lower costs, the ability to build smaller machines, and fewer moving parts. Printer users, on the other hand, get smaller, lighter machines that use less power, all else being equal.
Do we recommend the OKI B412dn? Well, for its price and size, we really liked this printer. However, some of OKI’s other models, such as the two mentioned above, may provide better value depending on your printing-volume needs. This one works from a value point of view under a set of narrow circumstances, governed primarily by how much and what you print. We’ll get into all of that over the course of this review.
Otherwise, though, this is a great entry-level printer for pure text output.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.
Intel has all its marketing eggs in the 2-in-1 basket nowadays, but it wasn’t always so. Almost four years ago, during the last half of 2011, the first round of svelte and elegant ultrabooks started showing up in our labs. One of the first companies on board was Asus, with its ZenBook line. We reviewed one of the 11.6-inch ZenBooks, the $1,199 model UX21E, in November 2011, and came away duly impressed with how light and compact it was, as well as how much it resembled Apple’s MacBook Air.
Since then, we’ve seen many ZenBooks, ranging in screen size from 11.6 inches to 15.6 inches. Most have been premium or at least upscale machines, such as the most recent, the ZenBook Pro UX501Best Price at Amazon with its 4K touch screen.
The ultrabook we’re reviewing today is something different. The ZenBook UX305FA is only 2.6 pounds, only 0.5 inch thin at the thick end of its wedge-shaped profile, and only $699, or $300 less than the cheapest 13.3-inch MacBook Air. What’s surprising, though, is how little you have to give up to get this low price. This ZenBook is not a cheaply configured laptop.
You get twice as much memory as the MacBook Air (8GB), for example, and twice as much solid-state storage (256GB). There’s a full HD (1,920×1,080) display panel. In addition, it doesn’t run on a low-power Celeron or Atom processor. Instead, as discussed in the Performance section later on, the UX305FA is powered by Intel’s low-wattage Core M processor, which enables a fanless design, letting the ZenBook run silently.
With its 0.8GHz Core M-5Y10, it also runs a little slower than competing models based on the 1.1GHz and 1.2GHz Core M CPUs, and slower still than machines built around laptop Core i5 and Core i7 processors.
Even so, as we found in our benchmarks, the ZenBook is not that slow—it’s fine for Microsoft Office and other productivity apps, though you wouldn’t want to run AutoCAD or Adobe Premiere on it. In addition, its slim, light, and highly attractive design makes it look and feel more elegant than its $699 price suggests. We found plenty to like about this laptop.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper
Starting with 2010’s HP Envy 100, the Envy line of inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printers—which can print, scan, and copy—has been one of the more interesting to watch evolve over the past few years. After the 2010 debut machine, consecutive models, such as 2011’s Envy 110 and 2013’s Envy 120, concentrated more on style and home-fitting elegance than on the more practical pursuits of what a printer needs to do.
As we pointed out in our July 2013 review of the Envy 5530 (one of the first Envys to break with the Envy-printer trend of style before substance), those first Envys, especially the Envy 120, were more fashion statements than nimble office appliances. When it came to capacity and practicality, they were really no more than entry-level AIOs, despite their elegant appearances and relatively high prices.
What we liked least about the early Envys, though, was how much they cost on a per-page basis to use. But then this has been true of all Envy-brand printers, including the much less costly Envy 5530 AIO. The good news here is that, as you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, the latest Envy AIO (and topic of this review), the $149.99-MSRP Envy 5660 e-All-in-One Printer$74.99 at HP, doesn’t have the same ink-price issue anymore—at least, with the advent of HP’s Instant Ink program, and assuming you sign up for it.
Even so, understand that this is a low-volume printer designed to churn out only a few hundred pages—at most—each month. HP’s ink program allows printer users who don’t print much to realize reasonable per-page ink costs, compared to the off-the-chart-high cost per page when buying ink cartridges off the shelf. And that’s a big feather in the value cap of this Envy model, as well as most (or all) of HP’s other low-volume, entry-level printers.
Still, like its predecessor the Envy 5530, the Envy 5560 has no automatic document feeder (ADF) for feeding multipage documents to the scanner without user intervention. Instead, you must load your originals one page at a time, scan each one, and, if they’re double-sided, turn them over by hand and scan them again, repeating the process for each page.
A problem, then, for this Envy model is that some of the other major inkjet-printer makers, such as Epson with its comparably priced WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One Printer ($99, factoring in a $50 discount that was available when we wrote this), offer ADFs and more in some of their like-priced models. As you’ll see later on, though, this HP model does print somewhat better photos than most business-oriented AIOs, in the event that’s important to you.
Really, though, if you need to do heavy-duty document processing, with the Envys you’re looking in the wrong place altogether. In the past, our main objection to this Envy would have been its high cost per page (CPP), but as mentioned, HP’s Instant Ink program makes buying ink a much more reasonably priced prospect. In fact, it goes a long way toward evening up the playing field between this entry-level model and higher-volume inkjets designed to print thousands of pages each month (at, of course, a much lower cost per page).
The savings that Instant Ink can bring—under the right circumstances—make this budget-minded Envy much easier to recommend, more so than any previous Envy, to users who don’t print much, or make many copies. It has a secret weapon when paired with Instant Ink: super-cheap printed photos.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
When it comes to wireless keyboards, or keyboard-and-mouse combo sets (also known as “wireless desktops”), most people think of Logitech and its many retail-friendly, budget bundles it has offered over the years, as well as Microsoft, perhaps, and its often ergonomically focused gear. On the other hand, one of the oldest (and one of the standards-bearers among desktop input-device makers) is Cherry, a German company.
Cherry has been manufacturing wireless keyboards, mice, and keyboard-and-pointing-device bundles for quite some time. But you may not have known it, because most of the stuff is meant for the professional and office markets.
Cherry’s also known for setting industry standards in input devices. It’s best known to consumers as the maker of the seminal Cherry MX mechanical key switches, the mechanisms that come in a small assortment of types (Cherry MX Blue, MX Red, and the like) and lie under the keytops of many of today’s best and priciest gaming and productivity keyboards for desktop PCs. The thing that may be confusing: Cherry makes lots of its own branded keyboards, but they don’t all, by a long shot, use those premium Cherry MX mechanical switches. In fact, most don’t.
Cherry offers a keyboard or combo set for lots of different categories of computing, including point of sale (POS), healthcare, government, and industrial, as well as yet another broad category, “professional,” which can, of course, mean just about anything. But what Cherry means, in this case, are professional typists, writers, data-entry professionals—people who use their input devices essentially to make a living. And for a subset of them—users who need to rely on bulletproof data security in data entry—the company offers up its $97-MSRP B.Unlimited AES desktop set. (It’s also known as the “Cherry Professional Wireless Rechargeable Desktop Set B.Unlimited AES.”)
So what, besides responsive, comfortable keys and an accurate, ergonomic mouse, does a professional need? Well, that certainly depends on what kind of professional you are. If you work in healthcare, where personal info is sacrosanct and subject to regulations, or in professions where you can’t even tell your spouse exactly what you do, locking down your data input at every possible weak point in the computing chain may matter to you. If that’s you, according to Cherry your relatively expensive professional desktop set should be Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) compliant, which secures the wireless signal between keyboard and receiver.
This keyboard/mouse set is also rechargable, which is well and good, but a $100 wireless-desktop set should be, we think, also comfortable and complete by default. While overall this is a well-built, high-end set, it provides little in the way of wrist support or other ergonomic features that you may see in other such bundles from Microsoft or Logitech.
Even so, we found Cherry’s B.Unlimited desktop set had decent key feel and felt sturdy, and the unusual AES angle makes it a good fit for security-minded, can’t-fail environments.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.
With its Business Smart, Business Smart Plus, and Business Smart Professional Series families of printer, Brother was one of the first printer makers to support wide-format printing in a big way in multifunction inkjets for consumers and small businesses. Whether it’s simply printing the occasional oversize document, or delivering the ability to scan, copy, fax, and print them, a subset of these business-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) adroitly handle tabloid, or 11×17-inch, pages at prices usually reserved for models that support paper no larger than letter- or legal-size.
The topic of this review, Brother’s $229.99-MSRP MFC-J6520DW, is one of these wide-load-capable models in the Brother line. A Professional Series model, the MFC-J6520DW does it all. It not only supports printing to tabloid-size stock, but because the scanner and the automatic document feeder (ADF) also support 11×17-inch pages, you can also scan, copy, and fax pages that big. (When you fax, of course, the document gets reduced on the receiving end if need be, since most receiving fax machines will be letter- or legal-size only.)
Unlike the other major makers of inkjet printers, which by now have all come out with a wide-format model or two of their own, nearly all of Brother’s business-centric models support tabloid printing. We’ve reviewed several of them, including the MFC-J6520DW’s higher-volume sibling, theMFC-J6920DW, a late-2013 Editors’ Choice recipient that’s still going strong on the market.
Over the past couple of years, though, we’ve seen business-centric wide-format models from both Epson and HP, such as the WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One and Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One, respectively. (Canon’s most recent wide-format inkjet model, the Pixma iX6820, is a very different animal, a single-function photo printer.) However, while these two machines have several features in common with our Brother machine under review, they also differ in some very significant ways.
Both the Epson and HP wide-format models, for example, additionally support a slightly larger page size, the next size up from tabloid at 13×19 inches, also known as “supertabloid” or A3+. (We say “slightly larger,” but the fact is that supertabloid pages contain 60 inches of additional surface area versus tabloid.)
While support for these even larger papers may not matter to everybody, a feature we really like about this Brother multifunction model is its low per-page operational cost—the cost per page, or CPP. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, compared to other wide-format printers, this one is relatively inexpensive in terms of ink upkeep, making it an ideal candidate for high-volume print runs of both standard letter-size andtabloid pages.
Unlike the costlier MFC-J6920DW, though, we had a few concerns about this model that left it just shy of a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice high-five. As we discuss in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, there are some significant, perhaps obvious, drawbacks to a wide-format printer with only one paper-input tray. In addition, the MFC-J6520DW doesn’t print photos as well as some of the other wide-format models we’ve talked about here so far.
But, then again, reconsider that this printer is part of Brother’s Business Smart Professional Series, as we mentioned earlier. Not all business printing calls for stellar photograph reproduction, and, frankly, this printer’s low CPPs, as we see it, should make stomaching the slightly subpar image rendering easier.
Overall, we liked this printer, but its somewhat limited paper-handling abilities might make it a better pick as a dedicated tabloid printer for light-to-moderate oversize output, as opposed to a general-purpose office machine. In any case, the MFC-J6520DW prints wide-format pages on the relative cheap, and that should be attractive to a wide range of small offices and workgroups.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper