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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How to Choose a Photo ScannerYou’d think that as long as digital cameras and, more importantly, photo scanners, have been around, nearly all the photos in the World should already be digitized. Alas, apparently, we’re still not even close, or maybe new hard copy prints get generated everyday—perhaps both. In any case, the point is that, just as the need for photo printers continues, so does the need for photo scanners. However, not all photo scanners are the same, and it really depends on what you plan to scan, the required scan quality, and how often you plan to scan photographs, to determine how sophisticated a machine you need.

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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Image Resolution and Color DepthAn image’s resolution is determined by the number of individual addressable points making up the photo, whether it is the number of dots that comprise a printed image, or the number of pixels contained in a screen image.

Depending on several factors, typically the more dots that are used to create an image, the more detail the image displays, resulting in sharper, better-looking scans and prints—providing you start with quality images to begin with, of course.

When, for example, you use bitmap graphics, whatever resolution you choose, information for each pixel or printer dot needs to be stored. The higher the resolution, the more information needs to be stored for any image of any size.

The only place this does not apply is when you’re using vector graphics (which isn’t often in most scan-or print situations), as the information about resolution is relevant only when the image is printed, or exported as a bitmap.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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How to Choose a Photo PrinterWell, the verdict is in—without question, inkjet printers leave their laser counterparts in the dust—when it comes to photograph printing. In other words, laser-class (which includes LED-array) devices can’t hold a candle to inkjet machines, photo-optimized or otherwise, when printing images. However, most photo printers are relatively inefficient at printing business documents.

That said, let me add that for the most part, most of today’s consumer-grade photo-optimized printers do a decent job when printing images, and, yes, some photo printers are certainly better than others, not only at printing photos, but also at churning out business documents. Then, too, most photo printers these days come with a scanner for copying and scanning photos and documents to your PC, other computers on the network, as well as various cloud sites on the Internet.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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Not only are solid state drives, or SSDs, significantly faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), but, since they have no moving parts, SSDs are also more reliable. To find out just how durable the leading SSDs really are, back in August 2013 The Tech Report Web site pitted several leading SSDs, from Intel, Kingston, Samsung, and Corsair, against each other, in a runoff to the death—to see, first, how well they held up to their HDD counterparts, and second, how long they lasted compared to each other.

Now we’re nearing the end of 2014. Most (but not all) of the drives, which include Corsair’s 240GB Neutron Series GTXIntel’s 240GB 335 Series, a pair of Kingston’s 240GB HyperX 3K drives, Samsung’s 250GB 840 Series, and Samsung’s 256GB 840 Pro, have conked out, but the endurance of these six test SSDs has gone well beyond the presumed life expectancy of any high-volume PC storage.

Before looking at the test itself, though, and the results, let’s talk about why solid state drives fail.
Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/solid-state-drives-outlast-pc-hosts/#ixzz3NhAtWfqe

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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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Scanner Types – by ApplicationGo ahead, Google “types of scanners”, and see what you come up with. More likely than not, you’ll get mostly articles that talk about the physical types of machines, such as flatbed, sheetfed, portable, or drum scanners. Granted, often a machine type dictates which type of content it handles, but not always. Besides, some scanners are designed to capture and process two or three different types of content, such as, say, photos, slides, and documents, while others, regardless of the actual type of mechanism inside, are designed for processing only one type of content.

For our purposes here, let’s look at scanners from another point of view—suitability to content, task, or application, rather than mechanism type.

That said, here are the different scanner types by content:

  • Photo scanners
  • Document scanners
  • All-purpose scanners
  • Portable scanners

In other words, let’s take a look at scanners from the perspective of what they’re used for, instead of how you feed the originals to the scanner itself.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Review and RatingsAbout six months ago, we looked at Sony’s sleek and capable Xperia Z2 Tablet, a full-size (10.1-inch) Android tablet with a wonderfully thin, light, and attractive design. It had a great-looking screen and superior battery life, too, making it a no-brainer recipient of our Editors’ Choice nod. The Xperia Z2 was in a word, a very fine tablet.

As a result, we couldn’t help but get excited when the Japanese electronics giant announced an 8-inch compact version. (We classify tablets with screens between 7 and 9 inches as “compact.”) And that excitement was well-justified: Aside from its reduced screen size and some slight changes to the port layout, the new, littler model—Sony’s Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact—is otherwise much the same super tablet, right down to the 3GB of system RAM and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor powering it inside.

While this new Xperia’s screen is 2.1 inches smaller—from 10.1 inches down to 8 inches—the native display resolution (1,920×1,200 pixels) has stayed the same. As we’ll discuss more in a bit, going down by 2.1 diagonal inches means a significant reduction in screen real estate. But because the screen is so much smaller physically, the actual density of pixels per inch (ppi) is significantly higher. And that increases the overall perceived detail and quality.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (Vertical View)One thing that did not shrink along with the screen, though, is the price. The Z3 Tablet Compact starts at $499.99 MSRP (for a version with 16GB of onboard storage), putting it at the same starting price as the full-size Z2 Tablet. That makes the Z3 Tablet Compact the single most expensive compact slate we know of in its base version, with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Apple’s iPad Mini 3 (each starting at $399 list) being its most closely priced compact competitors.

Though we fully understand that miniaturization costs money, Sony’s pricing scheme here is puzzling, and it runs counter to competitive trends. Apple and Samsung both offer full-size and compact versions of their flagship tablets, and the latter are at least $100 cheaper than the big versions. The fact that Sony engineered the same high-performance CPU into the Z3 Compact as in the full-size Z2 Tablet is to its credit, and likely part of why the Compact’s pricing remains high.

Even so, $500 is a lot of dough for a compact Android tablet. It’s a lot, too, for any full-size tablet not named iPad. Is this Xperia worth it? It’s definitely a matter of three things: a matter of taste, a matter of how much you like Android, and a matter of how deep your pockets are. What we can say pretty firmly is that the Z3 Compact’s amazingly trim chassis makes for one elegant-feeling tablet. It’s so light and balanced that you can forget you’re holding anything at all.

In addition, the Z3 Tablet Compact, since it’s built around the same CPU and RAM configuration, performed very closely to the Xperia Z2 Tablet on several of our benchmark tests, and it actually lasted nearly an hour longer on our demanding battery-rundown test. That really surprised us, given that the Z2 performed admirably in that regard as it is. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s unplugged runtime is one of the best in the tablet business, Android or not.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (Vertical)Plus, like its predecessor, the Z3 Tablet Compact is dustproof and waterproof—to the extent, that is, that Sony claims it’s safe to use your slate in the bathtub or the rain. We’ll look at this and other design features later on in this review. But our bottom line on this little Android is that it’s upscale indeed, and priced like it knows it.

For some buyers, given all the top-notch components and that gorgeous screen, it may well be worth it. But make no mistake: This is a luxury model among Android tablets, with a price to match. And realize that those who’d prefer a still-state-of-the-art, but bigger-screened, tablet can get a Samsung Tab S or Apple iPad Air 2 flagship tab for the same price, while those after maximum performance in a compact tablet can opt for the rip-roaring, albeit much less slick, Nvidia Shield Tablet at about $200 less.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper.

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