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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.


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.


Epson WorkForce DS-6500 Color Document Rating: 4 out of 5

If you’ve a backlog of documents you need digitized, or your business generates or receives hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of pages each month, a good document scanner is not an unreasonable purchase. The right machine and bundled software can all-but automate the entire process of digitizing and cataloging documents.

And that’s what we have here—a good scanner and bundled applications for scanning, converting to editable text (optical character recognition, or OCR), creating and saving a searchable PDF, and then cataloging with document management software—Epson’s $899-list WorkForce DS 6500 Document Scanner.

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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 “The Enduring Inkjet” article, inkjet technology is getting a second wind. Products like this one are the impetus.

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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

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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.

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