The Canon ImageClass LBP612Cdw review at Computer ShopperCanon’s ImageClass laser printers, such as the $279-MSRP Color ImageClass LBP612Cdw we’re reviewing here today, typically print well, at a reasonably fast clip, and with little fuss. That all holds for this little stand-alone (print-only) model. As you may be able to tell from the price, the LBP612Cdw is an entry-level machine, in this case designed for small offices and workgroups, or perhaps as a personal color laser printer. ($279 is very little money for a color laser printer, and we’ve seen this one, at this writing, marked down under $200 from some e-tailers.)

In fact, we found only two things to question on this little printer: a too-small paper-input tray and a too-high cost per page. We’ll talk more about input capacity later on, as well as get into the specifics concerning running costs. In general, though, it’s not unusual for small laser printers like this one to have a relatively high per-page cost of toner; high enough that, we think, they may be pricing themselves out of the market. Why? Because, if the color-fast printing and precision on small fonts isn’t exactly what you need (the usual strengths of lasers), you can find several lower-priced inkjet models out there that print as well as (and sometimes better than) these entry-level laser-based machines, at lower costs per page.

Canon Color ImageClass LBP612Cdw (Front)

But if laser is what you’re focused on archival or permanency issues, this budget ImageClass model is a nice sample in its price range. The ImageClass LBP612Cdw is light, small, and easy to manage, and it prints very well, too. The big sticking point is what you’ll pay for the toner to feed it versus certain inkjets. Canon’s own $149.99-list Maxify iB4120, for instance, is a small-business-minded inkjet that provides many of the same qualities (it’s a stand-alone printer, not an all-in-one), with running costs about a third of those of its laser cousin. Another such example is the HP Officejet Pro 8210, another highly capable inkjet-based “laser alternative.” As we’ll calculate out later in this review, if you use your printer often, the difference in running costs alone could save you plenty of money over the life of the printer.

Now, of course, some applications, such as HIPAA-regulated medical offices and facilities, as well as some government offices, require laser-printed output (using toner, rather than ink), and in those cases, sometimes all you can do is bite the toner bullet—or, if you print more than a few hundred pages per month, opt for a higher-volume laser model. You may pay more for the printer, but a (sometimes much) lower cost per page will not only make up for that expenditure, but also start saving you a bundle before long.

Which brings us back to Canon’s ImageClass LBP612Cdw. The bottom line is that this is a nice little printer for environments where you need high-quality laser output in scaled-down fashion (say, no more than a couple of hundred pages per month). From that perspective—in which you don’t print enough for the money spent on consumables matters much—we have no problem recommending the ImageClass LBP612Cdw as a low-volume color laser for home or small offices, or as an entry-level personal machine.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

Review of the Brother HL-L8260CDW standalone laser printer at Computer ShopperOften, printer makers release incremental versions of a product with different feature sets (sometimes very different), but with small differences in price. In those cases, you have the potential to get a great bargain if you spend just a little more—or, conversely, you can give up a lot in trying to save just a little bit of cash.

Such is the conundrum presented by today’s review subject, the $349.99-list Brother HL-L8260CDW (and its $399.99-list sibling, the Brother HL-L8360CDW). The printers have MSRPs/list prices that are $50 apart, and depending on the online seller, real-world selling prices that were between $50 and $75 apart at this writing.

Now, $50 to $75 is a fair bit of money, in a relative sense, when you are talking about a $350 product. But what you give up for that money, in this specific equation, is substantial. (In addition, the more a printer costs, the less relevant $50 or $75 is.)

It’s situations like these, where, by dissipating the marketing smokescreen, as analysts we can help you in your role as IT decision-maker for your home office or small business—or in your everyday life. If, that is, we do our job correctly. And here, with confidence we think the extra money for the HL-L8360CDW, for most buyers, will be money well-spent.

Brother HL-L8260CDW (Right Angled)

The HL-L8260CDW is part of a multi-product launch of Brother laser printers in mid-2017, with this model being the lowest-end of the bunch. One step up from an actual entry-level color laser, such as the Canon ImageClass LBP612Cdw we reviewed recently, the HL-L8260CDW is roughly comparable in HP’s line to the HP Color LaserJet Pro M452dw. Both models come with higher input capacities, higher monthly duty cycles (the number of pages that the manufacturer says you can print each month without overtaxing the printer), and input-tray expansion options that the entry-level models don’t offer.

The next model up from the HL-L8260CDW, the HL-L8360CDW, has a higher-still duty cycle (60,000 pages, versus 40,000), greater input-capacity expansion (1,300 versus 1,050 sheets), and access to higher-yield toner cartridges. The last, in turn, deliver lower running costs. In fact, the HL-L8360CDW has one of the lowest costs per page for a color laser in this price range that we know of. In contrast, the HL-L8260CDW’s running costs are, as we’ll detail later, closer to average for this class.

Even so, the HL-L8260CDW is a fine printer on all fronts, including print speed and output quality. You could choose it over its higher-capacity, more expensive sibling, of course, if you know for certain that you’d never need its expanded input capacity, higher duty cycle, and access to higher-yield toner cartridges. That said, it’s tough to get past the higher-yield model’s lower running costs—especially if you’ll be printing thousands of pages each month. (And if you’re not, either of these printers is overkill.)

Read the entire Review at Computer Shopper


 

IN A WORLD SATURATED IN WI-FI, THERE’S STILL ROOM FOR BLUETOOTH MESH - at Digital TrendsYes, current Wi-Fi-based smart home technology can turn on the lights with your smartphone or voice. But do you call that home automation, really? Isn’t it just a slightly more convenient light switch?

How about this? When you unlock your front door, the lights in the foyer come on, the motion sensors on your alarm system turn off, the thermostat starts the air conditioning, and your entertainment system begins playing your favorite music—all before you put your keys down!

Now that’s home automation, right?

What about a more serious, or potentially life-and-death scenario, where hospital staff could track patients, staff members, and equipment from any console, PC, or tablet on the premises?

While the best Wi-Fi systems allow us to take baby steps into building automation, wireless security, asset tracking, and more, a new technology called Bluetooth Mesh — an update to the standard Bluetooth wireless solution that most of us know — promises a better, more efficient, and much less expensive solution.

“As people’s expectations for networks go up, they demand networks capable of handling hundreds (or thousands) of IP addresses, offering Wi-Fi-level of signal performance across the house and building,” Daniel Cooley, Senior Vice President of Silicon Labs, told Digital Trends. “People won’t put up with flaky Wi-Fi anymore. If they can get away with fewer antennas, it would be much better.”

Cooley is a member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, or SIG, which oversees and develops Bluetooth technology. If he’s right—and industry watchers and makers of networking equipment are betting that he is—many aspects of our lives will soon be secured and simplified by this latest Bluetooth update.

Read the entire article at Digital Trends

Introducing Bluetooth Mesh Networking from Bluetooth SIG on Vimeo.


 

IWilliam Harrel's reviews on Computer Shoppert’s hard to believe, but I have been writing for the legendary Computer Shopper for over eight years (as of October 2017), and have been a contributing editor there for about seven years. My beat has covered everything from desktop systems and laptops, to tablets and 2-in-1s in several flavors (operating systems) and size, printers and all-in-one printers in all shapes and sizes, video cards, SSD and other types of disk drives—you name it. It’s been a wild ride.

More so than ever, competition in the tech markets is cutthroat and fierce. It’s been my pleasure to do what I can to keep you all informed.

For a list and links to my articles on Computer Shopper, click here


 

Digital TrendsCamarillo, CA – October 2017: Almost three years and over 40 articles later, I have covered numerous products and technology news for the immensely popular online digital technology magazine, Digital Trends. My beat covers all aspects of computer-related news and reviews. For example, my first few articles included information about DDR4 memory, USB 3.1, Sata Express, and Nvidia G-Sync, .

But since then I have covered everything from mouse and keyboard combos to 4K 360 degree digital cameras, and everything in between. My two latest news stories at Digital Trends cover Bluetooth Mesh technology and the latest, fastest Wi-Fi technology, 802.11ax.

You can get a complete list of my articles on Digital Trends here.


 

William Harrel's writing at PCMagCamarillo, July 13, 2016 — Part of the Ziff-Davis, one of the leaders in online technology media empire,  PC Magazine, or PCMag, as it is known online, is one of the oldest and most respected and trusted technology news outlets on the Internet.

Currently, my beat at PCMag is printers, labeling systems, and scanners, both document and photo scanners, all of which coincides with my background in desktop publishing.

As we move from mid- to late-2017, after just over a year of writing for PCMag, my number of published reviews will surpass 100 within the next month or so. (This post was updated in early September, 2017

A list of my reviews at www.pcmag.com.


 

Editors' ChoicePROS

  • Excellent print quality. Light and compact. SD card slot. Ethernet support. Two black inks. Two paper input trays. 20-sheet ADF. XXL ink cartridges available.

  • CONS

    A little pricey. Somewhat high running costs.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    It may be a little pricey, but the Canon Pixma TR8520 all-in-one printer produces terrific text, graphics and photos, and it has a strong feature set.

Earlier this year, Canon replaced its outdated cube-shaped MG-series (consumer-grade photo) Pixma printers with new TS-series Pixma models. Meanwhile, the Pixma TR8520 Wireless Home Office All-in-One Printer ($199.99), one of two models in the Canon’s TR series (it has a slightly lower-end sibling, the soon-to-be-reviewed Pixma TR7520), edges out the past-its-prime MX-series (family and home-based office) Pixmas. Specifically, the TR8520 replaces the Editors’ Choice Pixma MX922. The TR8520 all-in-one printer is smaller than the Canon MX922, redesigned in and out, and supports Bluetooth, making it our new top pick for family and home-based office, low-volume printing and copying.
Read the entire review at PCMag

My review of Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 Small-in-One at Computer ShopperWhen you stop and think about it, some of the things that our PCs, smartphones, and tablets allow us to do truly are amazing. Printing exquisite-looking photos on small, inexpensive inkjet printers is one of them. It’s not just having the ability to print photos that’s so awesome, though. What’s even more incredible is, when everything comes together just right—stunning content, taken in the right lighting, printed with a quality machine on premium photo paper—how striking the results can be.

It’s no wonder, then, that printing photos at home has become so popular, and that three of the top inkjet-printer makers—Canon, Epson, and HP—all offer machines tweaked and marketed as photo printers. If you choose the right one and feed it with the right ink, paper, and digital data, churning out masterpieces of your own isn’t particularly difficult, even if it costs a little more per photo than at Costco or the corner drug store.

You must start with the right printer, though. Today’s review unit, the $249.99-MSRP Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 Small-in-One, may face some impressive competitors, but it’s got some fight in it. A newcomer to Epson’s established Small-in-One line of all-in-one (AIO) printers (in this case, it prints, copies, and scans), the XP-8500 has photo quality that’s among the best in its class.

Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 (Control Panel)

But that doesn’t necessarily make your printer-picking decision easy. During the past year, Canon has released a wave of highly capable photo-centric models in its Pixma TS- and Pixma G-series MegaTank lines, while HP has trotted out its Envy Photo 7855 and a couple of other Envy Photo models. And Epson’s own Expression Premium and Expression Photo brands boast some formidable photo printers of their own. (Prior to the XP-8500, it had been a while since we’d seen a new Expression Photo model.)

The XP-8500 is a six-ink printer; the additional inks help increase detail and extend the printer’s color range. In just the six-ink category alone, you will find the Canon Pixma TS9020 and Pixma TS8020 (as well as the just-released Pixma TS9120 and Pixma TS8120, which we’ll be reviewing in the coming weeks), as well as the Epson Expression Photo XP-960. And, while they vary in features and capacity (the XP-960 can print tabloid-size 11×17-inch photos, for example), guess what? They all print mighty good photos.

A step down from those are Canon’s and Epson’s five-ink photo printers, which include the Pixma TS6020, Pixma TS6120, Pixma TS5020, and TS5120, as well as the Expression Photo XP-860. The Canon G-series MegaTank printers (there are four of them, as of this writing) and the HP Envy Photo models (three of these) use only four inks, but they still print respectable photos. Our point? The XP-8500 has, by our count, more than 15 in-market rivals. (And there are other so-called “photo printers” out there beyond these.) Granted, as mentioned, they come at varying prices with a wide range of features. But many of them print photos comparable to what we saw from the XP-8500, and to each other.

So, for this review (and the Canon Pixmas coming up), we have our work cut out for us, without turning these comparisons into the War and Peace of consumer-grade photo printers. What we cansay at the start, though: Versus its most direct competitors, we didn’t come up with any compelling reasons not to buy the XP-8500 for churning out your keeper photos. This is one terrific little AIO.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

  • Editors' ChoicePROS

    Good print quality. Comprehensive, easy-to-use label design and print mobile app. Strong selection of label types in several color schemes, including fabric iron-on labels. Runs on AC or battery power. Good value for the price.

  • CONS

    Cannot use with Windows or Mac PCs. Requires replaceable (rather than rechargeable) batteries.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    With excellent design and comprehensive print software, the reasonably priced Brother P-touch Cube prints several sizes and colors of good-quality plastic (laminated) labels from your iOS or Android mobile device.

Most professional- and consumer-grade label printers (such as our Editors’ Choice Brother QL-820NWB and the Dymo MobileLabeler, respectively) let you design and print labels from your computer and/or mobile device, but the Brother P-touch Cube ($59.99) is the first one that we’ve reviewed that cannot be tethered to a PC or a Mac via a USB cable. In other words, its only mode of operation is connecting wirelessly to your iPhone, iPad, or Android mobile device. The good news is that the bundled Brother P-touch Design&Print app is simple to use, allowing you to produce a variety of good-looking plastic labels for your kitchen, garage, bedrooms, office, and schoolroom, making the P-touch Cube an easy top pick as an entry-level label printer for families, small workplaces, and classrooms.
Read the entire review at PCMag

  • My review of the Xerox VersaLink B400/DN at PCMagPROS

    Fast. Excellent print quality. Strong paper capacity that’s expandable. Has 110,000-page maximum duty cycle. Very high-yield toner cartridges available. Strong security features. Much lighter than competitors.

  • CONS

    Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and NFC capabilities are extra. Somewhat high running costs.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The Xerox VersaLink B400/DN is a trim, high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer that prints well and quickly, and it’s highly expandable, but lower running costs would make it a better value.

Priced between the Brother HL-L6300DW and the Dell Smart Printer S5830dn, both top picks, the Xerox VersaLink B400/DN ($699) is a mid-to-high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer designed for small-to-medium-size offices and workgroups. Like its competitors, it has a high maximum monthly duty cycle; it prints well—and fast—and it’s highly expandable. The B400/DN supports many connectivity and security features, but—as on the Dell S5830dn—many are available only as add-ons. In most ways, though, the B400/DN holds up to its Brother and Dell competitors, except that a slightly high cost per page (CPP) leaves it just shy of receiving our Editors’ Choice nod.