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Buyer's Guide: all-in-one inkjet printers

How to make the right choice

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Group Test In the home, where print volumes are typically low, inkjet printers rule. You simply won't find colour lasers or laser-based all-in-ones at the £150 price point around which all the printers in this Group Test are offered.

Inkjets also have the versatility to be able to print quality photos as well as strong colours and reasonable black text on plain paper. While the printed output won't equal the clean precision of a laser, the differences are less and less marked as inkjet technology has become more refined.

All-in-one Inkjet Printers: Canon

Most printers makers have defined two distinct targets for inkjet all-in-ones: the photo enthusiast and people working from home. Most manufacturers produce two ranges of machines, each targeting these two categories of user, such as Canon’s Pixma MP and Pixma MX ranges, and HP’s Photosmart and Officejet brands.

The MP and Photosmart ranges epitomise photo enthusiast machines, and usually include memory card readers, PictBridge ports for direct-from-camera printing, and often printing direct from optical media in the higher end models. The more expensive machines often offer more than the base CMYK ink colours, too, to improve reproduction of flesh tones and landscapes.

The home worker machines, such as Lexmark’s Home Office and Professional series, may well still have memory card readers, but major on Automatic Document Feeders (ADFs) and fax functionality. Fax may be a dying technology, but there are still plenty of businesses which rely on it for security: things like physical signatures on contracts and other legal documents.

For this Group Test, I’ve aimed at this latter type of machine. That said, with a price point of £150, not all models have a full array of office-oriented features. Most have ADF and fax, and some have automatic duplex printing, though this can be a double-edged sword, as duplex on an inkjet can be painfully slow. The drying time for the first side of each duplex page can put big pauses in a print run.

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