Magazine article Sunset

All-in-One Home Office: Space Saving Machines That Perform Multiple Functions

Magazine article Sunset

All-in-One Home Office: Space Saving Machines That Perform Multiple Functions

Article excerpt

Is your home office out of space? Need to squeeze in a printer, fax, copier, answering machine, and perhaps a scanner? That's a lot of machinery. Even if you have the space, the price of each machine - $200 to $1,000 - might break your budget.

One solution is the new multifunction peripheral (MFP), also called multi function device, or MFD. It offers combinations of print, fax, copy, phone, scanner, and - most recently - answering machine functions, in one compact package. In the last year, prices have dropped to around $600 and quality has improved. An MFP saves money over buying each piece of equipment separately. In addition, you can save by buying paper and cartridges for only one machine.

A slew of manufacturers have put all these functions together and are competing for market share. But does the MFP sacrifice quality to save costs? Most of the time, yes. Printing is slower, and a smaller paper tray means filling it more often. Scanning and copying are usually sheet-fed, making it impossible to scan pages from books or magazines. And if the machine breaks down, you're in trouble - all those capabilities disappear when the machine goes in for repair.

Even so, the conveniences and savings an MFP provides often outweigh its limitations. It helps you limit your office machinery by handling most of your documents on one machine. It also offers capabilities that you may not be able to justify as separate purchases, such as scanning and copying.

If you're considering an MFP, first examine your home office needs. Your machine will probably see more duty as a printer than in any other role. And its print quality will dictate how well the machine makes copies and receives faxes. Here are some guidelines.

BUYING TIPS

Printer. The most popular and least expensive models are based on ink-jet printers. For everyday text printing, from business correspondence to your children's homework, an ink-jet with a resolution of 360 dots per inch is fine, even though it's slow and the ink may smear. …

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