2014 Printer Market HighlightsLast year, 2014, was a rather eventful year for the printer industry. Epson, for example, not only redid its entire small and medium-size business (SMB) WorkForce multifunction printer (MFP) line, but the revamps themselves were based on the Japanese printer giant’s new PrecisionCore printhead technology. In addition, Canon made an unprecedented move (for Canon, that is) by releasing a whole new line of SMB-friendly “Maxify” business office MFPs.

We also saw a slew of new mobile device-printing options, as discussed in this About.com“Mobile Printing Features – 2014” article. While none of these features were actually new to 2014 (they’ve been lurking in the background for a few years now), a couple of them, namely Near-Field Communication (NFC) and Wi-Fi Direct, were widely deployed by a few printer makers last year—thereby providing direct access to MFP features without either the printer or the mobile device joining a network.

In any case, 2014 was, as I recall, the year of the high-volume business printer and easy-to-use wireless mobile protocols.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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A Guide to Multifunction Business PrintersBefore you venture out into the world to buy a new printer for your home-based, small-, or medium-size business, it’s always a good idea to determine what you need your new office appliance to do. Will you, for example, print a lot photographs? A lot of business documents? How about scanning and copying; how much of those functions will you do? Also known as all-in-ones (AIOs), multifunction printers (MFPs) come in various sizes with volume ratings ranging from a few hundred pages a month to several thousand and beyond.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One (Front)We’ve looked at a bunch of Epson’s Small-in-One inkjet printers over the past couple of years—everything from the budget-model, $99.99-list Epson Expression Home XP-410 Small-in-One Printer to the flagship of the line, the $349.99-list Epson Expression Photo XP-950 Small-in-One Printer. For the most part, we’ve found them capable machines with good-looking output, not to mention excellent engineering and strong feature sets.

Today’s Small-in-One up for review, the second in line after the XP-950, is another six-ink, photo-optimized model: the $299.99-list Expression Photo XP-860. Like the XP-950, the XP-860 is an excellent photo printer. For the $50 difference, you give up the ability to print on 11×17-inch, tabloid-size paper. (The XP-950 takes a single sheet of that big paper via the override tray.) On the other hand, the XP-860 comes with a 30-page auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning and copying multipage, two-sided documents, while the more-expensive XP-950 does not.

Both models also have the ability to print on appropriately surfaced “printable” CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. Optical discs may be fading in importance these days, but this labelling function comes in handy in a few different scenarios, such as cataloging high-resolution images for long-term storage, or making music CDs.

In addition to its excellent print quality, ADF, and ability to print to discs, this Small-in-One comes with a slew of productivity and convenience features. As you’ll see on the next page, it supports a wide range of mobile connectivity options, as well as printing from several cloud sites and kinds of memory devices, and much, much more.

Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One (Printing)Like most other all-in-one (AIO) printers in this class, though, this one, while itcan print exceptional-looking documents, has limited document-printing support. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, not only does this photo printer have exceptionally small input and output trays, but it’s also expensive, in terms of cost per page (CPP), to use.

The XP-860’s closest competitor, Canon’s six-ink Pixma MG7520 Photo All-in-One, is also a low-volume, expensive-to-maintain printer, but it lists for about $100 less. To be sure, the Epson Small-in-One holds the edge on features, notably the ADF, and a few others. But the real balance has to do with the pricing, and whether you shop around. As we wrote this (in late December 2014), Epson was offering the XP-860 for a $70 discount off list, or $229.99 direct, bringing it well within striking distance of the Pixma MG7520.

Hence, like some of the other Small-in-Ones we’ve reviewed, while the XP-860 can print great-looking documents, the per-page cost of ink, as well as a few other things, limit it as a business document printer. However, if bright, detailed, high-quality photos, with the occasional business document thrown in, are what you’re after, we think you’ll like this printer. (You’ll also get easy, good-looking scans and copies of both photos and multipage, two-sided documents.) It may not be cheap for what it is, but we doubt you’ll have quibbles about any of its output, on paper or digital.

Read entire review at  Computer Shopper.

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How are Ink Cartridge Page-Yields Measured?So you’ve dropped by the office supply store to pick up some ink for your AIO printer, but it has turned out to be not as simple as you thought it would be: Your high-end, high-volume, office-friendly AIO has three different-size tanks available for it, and depending on where you look, ink cartridges are widely priced, with an even wider page-yield per cartridge. In fact, depending on the type of printer and the cartridges it uses, I’ve seen ink tanks that lasted for only 100 or so pages—all the way up to ink cartridges that hold about 9,000 prints and beyond.

Page yields come from the manufacturers, but these companies don’t get to just assign a set of numbers to a product and move on. Instead, page-yields are derived by deploying a rather rigid set of rules laid down by the International Organization for Standardization, the ISO. The ISO provides guidelines not just for electronics, but for just about everything else you can think of, including information security, food safety management, and environmental management—you name it, the ISO can develop standards and publish them.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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Canon Pixma MG5620 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-One ReviewIn the same way that the sun rises and sets, and the seasons change, so go Canon’s printers. Canon has refreshed its MG and MX families of Pixma printers—its consumer and home-office bread-and-butter models—reliably each year for some years now. 2014 was no different, and here’s the last installment in our reviews of Canon’s 2014 round of photo-optimized Pixma inkjets, which included the $199.99-list Pixma MG7520 and the $149.99-list Pixma MG6620. (The latter, we reviewed a few weeks before this model.) Here, we’re looking at the least expensive of the three, the $99.99-list Pixma MG5620 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-in-One. There’s the least to say about this model, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least of the lot.

If you’re shopping the Canon Pixma line, you may notice a lot of things in common up and down the MG printers, and it’s especially true of this printer. (“MG” is Canon’s designation for its photo-centric all-in-ones.) Except for a handful of features missing from the cheaper MG5620 model, the Pixma MG6620 and the Pixma MG5620 are essentially the same printer.

That’s meant to give budget consumers a choice of a close-to-bare-bones model or a modestly featured one. For the $50 difference in list price between them (the street prices will vary, so the delta may be a bit more or less than that in practice), you give up a few things that may or may not matter much to you: a couple of pages per minute in print speed (primarily with black-and-white pages), the ability to print directly from flash-memory cards and USB thumb drives, and support for Near-Field Communication (NFC). NFC, if you’re not familiar with it, allows you to print by touching your NFC-enabled Android smartphone or tablet to a hotspot on the printer. One other difference: The LCD on the control panel is slightly smaller on the Pixma MG5620.

Canon Pixma MG5620In short, this model is the most stripped-down of the three. Also, as a five-ink photo printer, the Pixma MG5620 has the same drawback as not only most other Pixma photo printers, but photo printers in general: The ink is pricey enough on a per-page basis that, while the printer can print good-looking documents, doing so in volume is hurtfully expensive. Simply put, the cost per page (CPP) is too high.

By the same note, this is not a printer for processing large documents through its scanner or copier hardware. Like its Pixma MG siblings and its predecessors, the MG5620 lacks an automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning and copying multipage documents. Instead, you must feed your big docs to the scanner bed one page at a time—scan them, save or copy them, then restart the process for the next page, which can be quite time-consuming.

Then again, that’s not really the point of this printer. The real question is: Is this a decent photo printer? Like we said about the other five-ink machine in this 2014 batch (the Pixma MG6620), the answer is yes. It indeed prints nice photos, almost as nice as its six-ink sibling, the Pixma MG7520. As consumer-grade photo printers go, this is a good one. And, as mentioned, it also prints fine-looking documents, though at a dear ink cost.

Canon Pixma MG5620 Wireless Inkjet Photo AIOOur recommendation for this Pixma is much the same one we gave for the other two 2014 MG models: If you need a strong photo printer with the ability to churn out the occasional business document, or make a scan or copy now and then, the Pixma MG5620 is capable on all fronts. Just know it’s not an efficient document printer, in terms of operational cost. It’s best suited for snapshots and other images, and the occasional “other” printout.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Multifunction Color PrinterIt’s funny. Most businesses will easily pay $400 for a relatively low-volume, expensive-to-use, feature-poor laser printer, but ask them to pay the same amount for a high-volume, inexpensive-to-use, feature-rich all-in-one (AIO) inkjet, and many small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) might just think you’re nuts. I’m here to tell you that unless for some reason your small office or workgroup is locked into (required) laser output, inkjet multifunction printers (MFPs) like the topic of this review, Epson’s WorkForce Pro WF-5690, are hands-down better values.

Is this a bold claim? Since there’s nothing really that a laser (or laser-class LED) printer can do that an inkjet printer can’t, I think not. In fact, as described in this About.com “The Enduring Inkjet” article, inkjet technology is getting a second wind. Products like this one are the impetus.

Read the entire review at About.com.

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Fast, Cheap-to-Use, Laser-Busting Multifunction Inkjet PrintersThis past couple years, 2013 and 2014, we’ve seen a number of high-volume all-in-one (print, scan, copy, and fax) inkjet printers designed solely as laser-class printer replacements from Brother, Canon, Epson, and HP. Not only are these machines fast, they have strong feature sets, they print well, and they have relatively low CPPs, or cost per page.

In fact, to qualify for this list, the MFP must have a monochrome (the type of pages businesses print most) cost per page of under 2 cents. As I’ve said here before, inherent in the claim “high-volume” is the understanding that the machine will print hundreds, even thousands, of pages each month at a very reasonable cost per page

Read the entire review at About.com.

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Canon MAXIFY MB5320Does MAXIFY mean Canon finally understands small business?

Hardly. What it means is that, regardless of the number of laser printer print engines Canon makes for itself and HP, the company can no longer deny that high-volume inkjets are edging laser-class devices out of small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) at a good clip. Put frankly, Canon wants in on the action, hence the company’s new Maxify line of business-ready printers, which, so far, includes four MFPs and one single-function machine.

My primary disappointment after looking at the $199.99 (MSRP) MB2320 earlier was that, like Canon business printers of the past, this one had, at least where monochrome prints are concerned, a high per-page cost of operation, or cost per page—a killer for a high-volume business printer. In fact, inherent in the label “high-volume” is the understanding that as such it should print hundreds, even thousands of pages each month at a very reasonable cost per page.

Read the entire review at About.com.

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Canon MAXIFY MB2320A reading of my reviews of Canon’s “MX” office-centric AIOs over the years should confirm that I never have really considered them viable business-optimized multifunction printers (MFPs). Historically, compared to some other business-oriented all-in-ones, the Pixma MX AIOs have been slow, low-volume, and expensive to use, in terms of per-page operational cost, or cost per page (CPP).

In fact, a common complaint from not only me but several other reviewers about all Pixmas is that they cost too much too use. So much so that no matter how well they print business documents (and most Pixmas print document pages very well), they just don’t make very efficient document printers. The good news is that rather than try to fix that hopelessly flawed MX model, Canon has recently released a new Maxify line of business printers.

Read the entire review at About.com.

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Top 100 Products of 2014: Best PrintersHere’s my contribution to Computer Shopper’s “Top 100 Products of 2014.” My beat this year is printers. Here are the best printers of 2014:

Table of Contents

  1. Printer of the Year: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One Printer
  2. Best Budget Printer: Dell B1165nfw Mono Laser Multifunction Printer
  3. Best Photo Printer: Canon Pixma iP8720 Wireless Inkjet Photo Printer
  4. Best Small-Office All-in-One Printer: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One
  5. Best Inkjet All-in-One Printer: HP Officejet Pro 8630 e-All-in-One Printer
  6. Best Color Laser/Laser-Class Printer: Dell Color Multifunction Printer C2665dnf
  7. Best Basic Monochrome Laser/Laser-Class Printer: Samsung Xpress M2020W
  8. Best Basic Monochrome Laser AIO Printer: Samsung Multifunction Xpress M2070FW
  9. Best Consumer/Small-Office Wide Format Printer: Epson WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One Printer

Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.

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