The small multifunction home office printers were developed to cater to the market known as SOHO, meaning small office home office. This generally includes individuals operating from home, small businesses and small divisions of large companies. These multifunction printers normally have the functions of printing, scanning, photocopying, faxing, and e-mailing. The major brands supplying this segment are Brother, Canon, Dell, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark, Ricoh, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, and Xerox. Manufacturers like Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Oce, Okidata, and Olivetti also operate in this market with negligible shares. Let us compare the top 5 small multifunction home office printers in 2009.
Brother MFC-685CW is a pure multifunction printer and also inexpensive. The footprint of the machine is very less, with 18.4” width, 14.6” depth, and 7.1” height. The 10-page document feeder is flush with the lid of the scanner, thus saving lot of space. The PictBridge USB port and the 2 memory card slots are mounted in the front. A rare 3.3” widescreen color LCD control panel is provided in this machine to preview pictures on one side and information on the other side.
The message center allows you to play back or erase voice messages. The fax panel lets you preview, pause/redial, hold, and operate the speaker phone. The corded handset enables manual phone calls. The paper tray could hold 100 plain papers, while the dedicated photo tray could contain 20 sheets of 4×6 photo paper. The black ink tank provides about 500 pages, while the cyan, yellow, and magenta tanks offer about 400 pages each.
The multifunction printer comes with a scanner, copier, and fax functions, apart from a built-in answering machine. The fax options are highly sophisticated in this low-priced machine. The machine is network-ready, having Ethernet and Wi-Fi. This printer is ideal for homes and small offices, if you do not need very high printing quality and incredible speed.
Canon Pixma MX700
Canon Pixma MX700 is a printer with fast operations and high quality output. The 1.8” color LCD panel is not fully sufficient for photo previewing but it is alright for other menus. The front paper input tray could hold 110 sheets of plain paper. The rear tray is recommended for photo paper or thin T-shirts. PictBridge port and memory cards are not provided in this printer. Further, the limited fax functions, as well as the other limited task speeds, make it fit only for light printing needs.
HP Officejet J6480
HP Officejet J6480 comes with lot of high-end hardware like autoduplexer, optical character recognition scanner, wireless setup, etc. Still, the machine does not have PictBridge support and fax functions are limited to three. The printer is slower and larger in size than other similar models. The trays do not fold into the body. If you need a very rugged multifunction printer that you would not move around very much, then you could opt for this machine.
Epson Artisan 800
Epson Artisan 800 is a machine for high quality photo prints and documents. The footprint is reasonably small and the output speed is the maximum, compared to other similar models. However, the software in the machine has got lot of bugs and work is continuously disrupted. The output tray is made of flimsy plastic and the input tray is also quite delicate and is prone to frequent paper jams. Pricing of the machine is also quite high. It is not the ideal printer in the market.
Kodak ESP 5
Kodak ESP 5 comes with functions of printing, scanning, and copying. The photo editing software is a watered down version and not suitable for professional photo edit jobs. The printer also suffers from various mechanical errors and problems. The print speed is average and the graphics quality does not have high definition. Price is high for such a poor model.