Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4590 Review and RatingsFor some time now, we (as well as several other reviewers) have been predicting a convergence of the color inkjet and color laser printer markets—that the day would come when deciding between a multifunction color laser and a business-ready inkjet all-in-one (AIO) no longer constituted such a clear choice.

Looks like that day is here.

With each new manufacturing cycle, the distinction between these two imaging technologies (in terms of speed, output quality, and print volume) has become increasingly less…distinct. Nowadays, several higher-end business-centric inkjet models, such as HP’s OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One Printer, churn out prints as fast as (or, in some cases, faster than) some of their similarly priced laser counterparts. Plus, often, there’s no significant difference in output quality between the two technologies. As a matter of fact, inkjets frequently do a better job—especially when printing photographs and intricately shaded graphics.Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4590

Where most color lasers have held on to their supremacy, though, has been in their lower per-page operational costs, or cost per page (CPP). Traditionally, that has made them a better value over the long haul. In other words, laser machines are typically cheaper (often, much cheaper) to use. Small offices and businesses with high-volume print demands rely on them to help keep day-to-day printing costs down.

Enter Epson’s WorkForce Pro WP-4590 ($433.99 at TheNerds.net). This $499-MSRP inkjet AIO not only delivers one of the lowest per-page costs of ink we’ve seen, but it’s also one of the few inkjets we know that delivers CPPs close to or below those of several high-volume lasers. That makes the WP-4590 one of the most-economical-to-use multifunction printers on the market today for small and medium-size businesses.

In addition to the low per-page operational cost, the WP-4590 comes with a few other features that place it in direct competition with high-volume color lasers. It supports, for example, both of the two most common page-description languages, HP’s PCL and Adobe’s PostScript, used by the majority of laser printers. (We discuss why this is important in the Design & Features section on the next page.) In addition, its performance on our print-speed benchmark tests matched or exceeded the print times of several color laser models we’ve tested.

Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4590

Not only is the WP-4590 fast and inexpensive to use, it prints great-looking documents and photographs. We were also impressed with how well it scanned and copied our test document pages and images. In fact, aside from its $499 list price, which is hefty for an inkjet AIO, and the lack of support for wireless networking and flash memory cards, we couldn’t find much to quibble about with this printer.

And in fact, when we wrote this, a few online outlets were offering this printer for more than 10 percent off the list price. Sure, $450 to $499 may seem like a lot to pay for an inkjet machine. But if you use this one for what it’s designed for—to print and copy hundreds, even thousands, of pages each month—what you save on ink will quickly make up for (and surpass) the difference in cost between the WP-4590 and most other high-volume inkjet AIOs.

When all else is equal—print quality, speed, ease of use, convenience features, and so on—our advice is to choose the model with the lowest CPP. In this case, the WP-4590 delivers the speed and economic benefits of a color laser, as well as the stellar photograph printing you’d expect from an inkjet. Unless you simply must have memory-card and Wi-Fi support, we can’t think of any reason not to recommend this printer.

See full review at Computer Shopper.

 

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Brother MFC-8910DW Review and RatingsAfter all our years of reviewing multifunction laser printers (and all sorts of other printers, mind you), we sometimes still can’t figure out how manufacturers determine which features to include—and how they set prices—for models within same family. A $100 price difference between, say, two similar HP lasers might get you a vastly different set of options than on two similarly classed Brother models. Often, it seems more like sharp-elbowed market jockeying than any rational balancing of features.

We do understand that pricing and features depend on competing products, parts and construction costs, market trends, and other factors, but too often, it seems that printer manufacturers aren’t working from the same market research. And they’re not all using the same playbook, that’s for sure. Case in point is Brother’s recently released MFC-8910DW, a multifunction (print/scan/copy/fax) monochrome laser that lists for $499.

The MFC-8910DW is essentially a pared-down version of the $599 MFC-8950DW we reviewed a few weeks before it. While we’re fairly certain that these two models cost about the same to manufacture, we find ourselves scratching our heads at just how much you give up for the $100 price difference between them. For example, the more expensive MFC-8950DW has a 500-sheet input drawer, compared to the MFC-8910DW’s middling 250-sheet input-tray capacity.

Also, the cheaper model has half the monthly duty cycle: 50,000 sheets per month, versus 100,000. (“Monthly duty cycle” is the total number of pages Brother says you can print each month without wearing out the printer prematurely.) And, on top of that, the MFC-8910DW doesn’t support Brother’s high-capacity (12,000-page) toner cartridges, which the MFC-8950DW does. That means you can’t get from the MFC-8910DW as low a cost per page (CPP) as you can from other models with this Brother engine inside.Brother MFC-8910DW Review and Ratings

Why is this perplexing? For one thing, these compromises are steep ones for $100—especially considering the MFC-8910DW’s already slightly high price—but here’s a bigger reason: Given the MFC-8910’s blazing print speeds and potential capacity, it, like its higher-priced sibling, is a high-volume laser. As you’ll see in our per-page cost comparison between these two Brother printers (in the Design & Features section on the next page), saving $100 up front on the purchase price might actually cost you before long. Because these are high-volume lasers, if you plan to use the MFC-8910DW for what it’s designed for—printing thousands of pages each month—the cost per page will catch up with you quickly.

That said, we still found plenty to like about this printer. Like most Brother lasers, it’s built to last; it prints good-looking black-and-white documents; it’s fast; and it’s easy to set up and use. Just keep those “buts” we just mentioned in mind: It costs a little too much for a printer that doesn’t print color, and if high-volume printing is what you’re looking for, the higher-priced MFC-8950DW (as well as several other models, including a few color lasers) will save you money—potentially, lots of it—over time.

The bottom line? The less you print, the more saving $100 on this model makes sense.

See the full review at Computer Shopper.

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Canon Pixma MG2220 Review and Ratings If Canon’s Pixma MG2220 were a summer movie, it would be the low-budget conclusion to a ho-hum trilogy. Of Canon’s summer-2012 photo-printer efforts, all of them entry-level all-in-one (AIO) photo inkjets, this one’s the cheapest. (The other models are the Pixma MG4220 and Pixma MG3220.) At the core, all three of these new Pixmas are direct rehashes of three models we saw in 2011: the Pixma MG4120, MG3120, and MG2120, respectively. Alas, those machines were not overly impressive in their time, and since so little has changed in the 2012 versions, the three newer models didn’t stand out, either.

At $69 list, the Pixma MG2220Best Deal: $59.11 at Amazon Store is the cheapest of the 2012 trio, and, as you’d expect, it has the fewest features. One of the least-expensive AIOs we’ve seen, it’s also one of the most stripped-down. Indeed, you give up a lot for the $10 difference between it and Canon’s next model up in this line, the MG3220Best Deal: $79.00 at Amazon Store. For example, the Pixma MG3220 supports wireless networking, printing to the machine from mobile devices, and automatic two-sided printing, all features the MG2220 does not.

To get certain other basic features in a Pixma machine (“basic” by today’s standards, anyway, such as a color LCD and printing from flash-memory devices and cloud sites), you’ll have to step up a bit further, to the $149-list Pixma MG4220Best Deal: $141.25 at ANTOnline. Of these three Pixmas, the MG3220, with its better connectivity options and auto-duplexing print engine, is the best value for the budget-strapped. (In our eyes, that model’s biggest trade-off is its inability to print directly from memory cards, something of a no-brainer for a photo printer.)Canon Pixma MG2220 Review

Under what possible circumstances, then, would the Pixma MG2220 make sense? If you have only one computer and no wireless network in your home—and you don’t think you’ll ever need to connect to the printer wirelessly, and you don’t mind flipping pages manually when you need two-sided prints—well, then, saving $10 with the MG2220 over the MG3220 might make sense. But that’s a stretch.

The Pixma MG2220′s lack of Wi-Fi support and convenience features are not our only concerns about the value proposition of this printer. While Canon continues reusing the same print engine in this current family of Pixma MG models, other manufacturers, such as Kodak (with its $99-list ESP 3.2 All-in-One PrinterBest Deal: $69.00 at Walmart.com), have meanwhile souped up their previous models, making them faster and more efficient. In addition, the Pixma MG2220 uses the same print cartridges as the other two Canon MG models discussed here, and they’re pricey on a cost-per-page (CPP) basis. That makes using this printer one of the dearest in the budget-printer field. If you’ll print on it much at all, the initial savings will get eaten up quickly (and soon, forgotten) by what you pay for the ink to keep it going.

Still, $69 isn’t much to pay for a machine that prints, copies, and scans, and if you just want to print the occasional photograph or business document, the MG2220 will give you respectable-looking output, albeit slower than most competitors. It also scans and copies well—but then, too, so do most competing models. Were sluggishness the MG2220′s only shortcoming, we could overlook that for the price. But the high ink cost is a huge drawback, and it makes this AIO hard to recommend for anything more than occasional use.

Read review at Computer Shopper.

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Brother MFC-8950DW Review and Ratings In a world where inexpensive color printers—laser and inkjet alike—abound, it’s hard to get excited about black-and-white multifunction laser printers, unless they hit a striking new price low. Many small offices and workgroups may not even see the point in owning a machine that can’t print or copy color documents.

We do, though. Many businesses—mortgage brokers, tax preparers, and auto dealers, to name just a few—need to print copious amounts of monochrome pages quickly and inexpensively. The speed and low printing cost of a monochrome laser can soften the blow of maintaining a second machine for occasional color output. Plus, if the printer can also copy, scan, and fax when needed, that’s an added office-convenience bonus.

It’s in these high-volume, on-demand printing environments that devices like Brother’s $599-list MFC-8950DW readily find a home. And, in that sense (well, in every sense, actually) this huge, fast multifunction printer is certainly a high-volume machine. It comes with a spacious 500-sheet input tray, and it provides users with toner-cartridge options with yields up to 12,000 pages per cartridge. Plus, Brother rates this machine’s duty cycle at up to 100,000 pages monthly (that’s Brother’s recommendation for how many prints you should be able to push through it each month without undue wear), and it spits out pages at blazingly fast speeds. In addition, you can purchase a second 500-sheet paper tray that, combined with the 50-sheet override tray, allows you to stock the MFC-8950DW with over 1,000 sheets of paper.

Clearly, this is a machine for businesses that generate stacks of black-and-white documents all day; it’s absolutely overkill for a light-printing home office or for the kids’ term papers. We should pause here and point out that Brother also offers a pared-down version of the MFC-8950DW, the MFC-8910DW. (We’ll be reviewing it shortly.) Essentially, the MFC-8910DW is the same machine, minus a few features, such as a USB slot for printing and scanning directly from the printer itself, and support for the highest-yield (12,000-page) toner cartridges—which means you can’t get the lowest cost-per-page option available on the more expensive MFC-8950DW. If you don’t need these functions, the MFC-8910DW might be a better buy.

Like most Brother printers, this one is well-built, operates efficiently, prints good-looking documents, and is easy to set up and use. We do have a couple of concerns, though. First, some high-end color-laser models, such as Samsung’s CLP-775ND (which we saw online when we wrote this for as low as $678, and Dell’s single-function C3760dn, spotted for around $570Best, don’t cost a lot more than the MFC-8950DW. These color machines, as well as a few others, are, we think, better deals, because they give you the option to print color documents when you need them.Brother MFC-8950DW Review

Our second quibble is the MFC-8950DW’s cost per page (CPP). If you buy Brother’s highest-yield cartridge, the CPP is not exorbitantly high, but it’s higher than some other competing printers, including the two mentioned in the previous paragraph. We’ll talk more about this model’s CPP in the Design & Features section on the next page.

Still, the MFC-8950DW is a good printer overall. In our speed tests, it performed on par with its competitors, all the while providing us with great-looking prints and copies. For the most part, the scanner worked well, too. We’d be more excited about it, though, were it a little less pricey and a bit less expensive to use.

See the review at Computer Shopper.

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Canon Pixma MG3220 Review and RatingsSometimes, attempting to save money can wind up costing you more in the end. This is especially true of entry-level inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printers for printing, copying, and scanning documents and photographs. Buying the wrong machine can cost you plenty, in terms of wasted time and the cost of consumables (in this case, ink cartridges). An attractive purchase price is not, by far, the only thing to consider when looking for a printer for your home or home-based office.

And that’s our main concern about Canon’s Pixma MG3220. While the MG3220′s suggested list price, $79.99, is low for a printer that can also copy and scan, this Pixma is considerably slower than some other recent similarly priced models, and it costs a lot to use—its ink cost per page (CPP) is just too high. If you use this printer a lot, it will cost you much more over time then some other entry-level competitors.

The MG3220 is the middle model (between the $69.99-list Pixma MG2220 and the $129.99-list Pixma MG4220, in a trio of low-end photo-centric Pixmas Canon rolled out in midsummer 2012. As we pointed out in our review of the MG4220 earlier this month, these are actually tweaked-and-rereleased versions of 2011′s Pixma MG2120, MG3120, and MG4120. As far as we can tell—and as our tests bear out—aside from a few additional features, these 2012 models are essentially the same Pixmas as last year’s.Canon Pixma MG3220 Review

Of the three, the MG3220 makes the most sense—assuming, that is, that you can do without the 2.4-inch color display, as well as the ability to print from and scan to memory cards, provided on the more-expensive MG4220. On the cheaper MG2220, you also give up wireless connectivity and automatic two-sided printing, which is a lot of sacrifice for the mere $10 price difference. As for the higher-end MG4220, our concern with it is that you can get a faster and more feature-rich Pixma, such as the Pixma MG5320, for about the same price (or cheaper, if you shop around).

As we said about the last-generation MG3120, the MG3220 prints documents and photos well enough, especially for an entry-level model, but it’s slower than some other recently released competitors, such as Kodak’s $99.99 ESP 3.2 All-in-One. It also has a much higher CPP than that Kodak and some other models. (We discuss the CPP in the last section of this review.) With that in mind, after spending a few days with this Pixma, we’re just not that enthusiastic about it. You can save a lot of money over the long haul by choosing a competing model, even one that costs just a little more.

Read the review at Computer Shopper.

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Canon Pixma MG4220 Review and RatingsPlay it again, Canon. It’s not unusual for a printer manufacturer to slap a few minor enhancements onto an existing machine, rename it, and rerelease it as a new model. We see this often, and most printer makers do it, but seemingly none more frequently than Canon.

This time, the printer giant has revamped not just one, but three of its entry-level, photo-centric Pixma print/copy/scan models: 2011′s Pixma MG4120, MG3120, and MG2120 are reborn as the MG4220, MG3220, and MG2220. (We’re working on reviews of the other two new models; the MG4220 is the first of the set we looked at.)

The problem here with this tweak-it-and-relaunch-it approach? The original models weren’t stellar printers to begin with, so you run the danger of simply getting the same old middling machines, but with a few new features. On paper, that’s what it looks like happened with these three new all-in-one (AIO) models. All three are essentially the same as last year’s Pixmas, and those models printed documents and photos at less-than-industry-standard speeds, with costs per page (CPPs) that were far too high.

Alas, our tests of the MG4220 bear out that little has changed. This new trio of Pixmas is budget-priced (with MSRPs from $69.99 to $129.99), with the MG4220, the focus of this review, the most expensive and functional of the three. As Canon’s MG models go (“MG” is the company’s designation for its photo-centric AIO printers), the MG4220 falls between the $149.99 Pixma MG5320 and the $79.99 Pixma MG3220. (We’ll be posting a review of the MG3220 shortly.)

The $60 difference between the MG3220 and the MG4220 gets you support for several types of memory cards, as well as a small (2.4-inch) full-color LCD that makes scanning to and printing from memory devices and configuring the printer easier. If you step up to the MG5320, though, for the extra $20 you get a 3-inch screen, the ability to print labels on CDs, a significantly faster print engine, support for USB memory and other USB devices, and better-looking prints, especially photographs.Canon Pixma MG4220 Review

This is not to say that the MG4220′s output is subpar or in any way unacceptable—not at all. It’s just that, to our eyes, at least, the MG5320′s five-ink-cartridge system churned out better-looking prints than the MG4220′s two-cartridge system. (Furthermore, the MG5320 has been on the market for a while now, and we found it at several online outlets for under $100. Conversely, we couldn’t find the MG4220 for less than $119 yet.)

Our take? The MG4220 is a capable printer. It’s easy to set up and use; it prints good-looking documents and photos, and in our tests, it was reliable. Compared to recent competing models (such as HP’s $129 Photosmart 5520 e-All-in-one and Kodak’s $99.99 ESP 3.2 All-in-One), though, it’s slow, even when printing photographs. However, our biggest concern with this model is its high per-page cost of ink, which we discuss in the last section of this review. Other models—including other similarly priced Pixmas—can deliver comparable (and sometimes better) print quality at faster speeds, as well as provide a better overall value over time.

Read full review at Computer Shopper.

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Dell C3760dn Color Laser Printer Review and RatingsIt wasn’t all that long ago that high-volume color laser printers ran well upward of $1,000, with some as much as $2,000 or more. In addition, color prints on these models, in terms of the per-page cost of consumables (here, toner cartridges) often cost more than 20 cents each. It’s no wonder that so many businesses depended on FedEx and other service bureaus when they needed laser-quality color prints.

Relying on service bureaus, though, is costly in other ways. First is the time and fuel wasted with trips to the store. Getting your files there, pre-proofing to make sure colors are right, picking up the print job, and so on, all take more time. Plus, if something changes, such as, say, a sale price or product specification, your only recourse is to throw away leftover prints and print new ones—and that’s costly, too.

If you print and distribute color documents often, having a color laser in-house is much more convenient, and here’s where products such as Dell’s 2012-release C3760dn Color Laser Printer can make your life easier. This high-volume workhorse, $649 at the time of our review, prints faster than nearly every printer in its class that we’ve tested, with superb-looking output, and it costs less on a cost per page (CPP) basis than most competing models. It’s even faster and cheaper to use than our Editors’ Choice winner, the $749.99 Samsung CLP-775ND (a high-volume, multifunction print/copy/scan/fax color laser), which we reviewed back in October 2011.

Dell C3760dn Color Laser Printer Review

Alas, no printer is perfect, but the C3760dn comes close. Our primary concerns center on cost. Because this is a single-function model, its $649 price seems a touch high for what it is. In addition, to get Wi-Fi connectivity, you must purchase an adapter (more on this in the Design & Features section on the next page), adding to the overall cost of the machine. Still, this model’s low CPP numbers—especially for monochrome pages, which are what most businesses print most often—are attractive. If you use this printer a lot (compared to most other high-volume models), you’ll make up these costs and start saving money sooner than you might think.

And that’s where the C3760dn makes the most sense—high-volume printing over the long haul. When buying a workhorse printer like this one, what you pay for each print should be a bigger overall consideration than the purchase price. Combine this model’s lightning-fast printing, and its excellent-looking documents, graphics, and photos, with its low CPP, and the C3760dn comes up a great printer and a terrific value.

Read the full review at Computer Shopper.

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Dell B1265dnf Review and RatingsWe’d say it’s raining laser printers, but we don’t want to send you running for cover—they are quite heavy, after all. But, in recent weeks, that’s how it seems here at Computer Shopper. Given all the laser models that have hit the market this summer, as soon as we plough through one group—testing, analyzing, and writing reviews—the next bunch shows up. They’re coming from Dell, HP, and others, in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices. The summer of 2012 has turned out to be one of the hottest times in memory for laser-printer releases.

Here, we took a look at Dell’s $249 B1265dnf, a multifunction (printing, scanning, copying, and faxing) monochrome laser printer. The B1265dnf is the fourth model up—in terms of features, price, and print-volume rating—in a group of five monochrome lasers that Dell released in late June. Two of the company’s three less-expensive offerings in that line, the $99 B1160 and $119 B1160w, are so-called “personal” laser printers similar to Samsung’s $129.99 ML-2165W, which we reviewed in spring 2012. (We’ll be taking a look at the B1160w in the coming weeks.) The other cheaper model, an entry-level monochrome printer-only model, the B1260dn, we looked at earlier this month.

As multifunction lasers go, at under $250, the B1265dnf is an entry-level machine. In this part of the printer market, “entry-level” is an important distinction. With budget models like this one, you typically pay a low up-front price for the machine itself, but then pay a premium each time you buy the printer’s somewhat overpriced (as we see it, anyway) toner. In addition, these lasers usually have relatively low maximum monthly duty cycles. (“Duty cycle” is the number of pages the manufacturer says you can print each month without excessive wear on the machine.)Dell B1265dnf Review

Despite Dell’s “high duty cycle” proclamation for this model, the B1265dnf falls a little short of this claim. This model’s somewhat high per-page cost of operation, or cost per page (CPP), and relatively low duty cycle (20,000 pages per month) do not, in our estimation, meet the requirements for a high-volume laser. By comparison, the company’s higher-end 2355dn, with its low (under-2-cent) CPP and 80,000-page duty cycle, is a true high-volume monochrome multifunction laser. The B1265dnf is—at best—a mid-volume one.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying that the B1265dnf is not a good printer—not by any means. It prints quickly and churns out great-looking documents, making it a good fit for small offices, small businesses, and small enterprise workgroups with modest print-volume requirements. However, if you push it anywhere close to the recommended monthly volume rating, you’d be much better off, over time on a CPP basis, with a pricier model with a higher duty cycle. Just be mindful of how much you print and copy. (We analyze the cost-per-page value equation between this model and higher-volume multifunction devices later on in this review.)

Read the full review at Computer Shopper.

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HP OfficeJet 150 Mobile All-in-One ReviewWe review lots of all-in-one printers here at Computer Shopper, so when a model comes along with a something-you-don’t-see-everyday distinction, we sit up and take notice—not the least because it takes us away from the usual grind of feeding reams of paper for testing. Thus our enthusiasm for the HP OfficeJet 150 Mobile All-in-One, which we spotted for the first time a few weeks back at an HP event in Shanghai.

The OfficeJet 150 Mobile All-in-One is, by far, the smallest and lightest multifunction (print, copy, and scan) device we’ve seen. It’s based on inkjet technology, and it may be small, but the price is, alas, big. At $399, its price equals those of the costliest high-volume consumer AIO inkjet printers available, such as the immensely versatile $399 Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540.

Admittedly, that comparison is a bit of stretch, since those are two very different printers for very different uses. The point is, though, you can buy a lot of inkjet-printer oomph for $400, and the OfficeJet 150 Mobile is, on the oomph scale, not much of a printer at all. Instead, its intended niche is the mobile road warrior—as a small, lightweight take-along companion to your notebook or tablet. The idea is that with the OfficeJet 150 Mobile, you can carry a device on which you can print, copy, or scan documents no matter where you travel.HP Officejet 150 Mobile All-In-One

As a mobile device, the OfficeJet 150 Mobile serves its intended purpose reasonably well. Not only is it very compact, it also comes with a lithium-ion battery, allowing you to use it away from an AC power outlet. Plus, it supports Bluetooth, so you can connect to it wirelessly. It lacks support for traditional networking (Wi-Fi or Ethernet), though. We think that including at least Wi-Fi connectivity would have been a nice touch, especially considering how light and small wireless radios are nowadays. (Even the smallest smartphones support Wi-Fi, after all.)

In addition, we had a few paper-feed mishaps during our print tests, and we found a few of the OfficeJet 150 Mobile’s functions a little confusing. (We’ve got more about this in the Setup & Paper Handling section, later on.) Still, we have to give HP credit for trying something different here, and for attempting to fill a niche not yet addressed.

HP Officejet 150 Mobile All-In-One closed

Our take? If you need to print, scan, and fax on the road, the OfficeJet Pro 150 Mobile will do that for you, but you might want to spend some time making sure you know how to use it before you whip it out in front of a client or would-be client. We spent more time with the manual, learning to use this device, than with any other product in quite some time.

Our biggest concern, though, is the price. A big $400 is no small investment for most business travelers. Also disconcerting is this OfficeJet’s cost per page (CPP). As you’ll see in the Design & Features section, in addition to its high purchase price, this model will continue to cost you plenty, in terms of ink, as you use it.

In short, this is a convenience product, and such products usually require some serious consideration before plunking down hundreds of bucks. Here’s our take on the unusual OfficeJet 150 Mobile from our days with the device.

See the review at Computer Shopper.

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Kodak ESP 3.2 ReviewSure, you can buy all-in-one (AIO) printers in the $100 range that have stronger feature sets than Kodak’s entry-level ESP machines. But you’d be hard pressed to find models that turn out better print quality for the money—especially at one of the lowest per-page operational costs, or costs per page (CPPs), in this class. Like the discontinued Kodak ESP 3 and the more recent ESP C310 (which we reviewed in March 2011), Kodak’s new-for-2012 ESP 3.2 delivers reliably good-looking output, and it does so without mercilessly flogging your wallet each time you replace the ink cartridges.

When you spend less than $100 for an inkjet AIO printer, you can’t expect a speed demon with a bunch of high-end ease-of-use features. In this price range, you’ll need to settle on a model with strengths that meet your specific needs. As a baseline, any entry-level AIO you’re short-listing at should at least print, copy, and scan at a quality level that meets your needs. Beyond that most crucial consideration, you’ll have to weigh and balance the rest of its features.

For example, several models in this price range come with automatic document feeders (ADF) for scanning, copying, and (on those AIOs that support it) faxing multipage documents. Canon’s $99.99 Pixma MX432, as well as Brother’s $99.99 MFC-J430w, for instance, both have ADFs, and they can fax. Like the ESP C310 before it, the ESP 3.2 has neither feature. But then again, you’ll pay more per-page—which, depending on how much you print, adds up quickly—with both the Canon and Brother models (especially the Canon).

Our primary complaint about the ESP C310 wKodak ESP 3.2 Reviewas its slower-than-average print times on our business-document benchmark tests, especially in Normal mode, the setting at which most users print most documents. This new ESP printed our test pages significantly faster overall than the ESP C310, and, on most documents, it churned them out quicker than some other recent models in this price range. Not that we’d call the ESP 3.2 fast—hardly. But, for the most part, it meets or exceeds the print times of most comparably priced competitors.

Because it lacks an ADF, this model is less than ideal for small-business environments. It’s much better suited to home use. We always give a printer high marks for low CPPs, though, especially when most everything else—document print quality, photo print quality, ease of use, reliability, and so on—is equal to or better than competing models. The ESP 3.2 delivers in these areas, and it does so at a relatively low daily operational cost.

We are seldom enthusiastic enough about low-cost AIOs to award them our Editors’ Choice nod, but, like the ESP C310, this one is an exception. We have no qualms recommending it as a low-volume consumer-grade machine. If you do use it to print a lot of documents and photos, though, it will do so less expensively than nearly every other multifunction device in this price range.

See the review at Computer Shopper.

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