Test Center Head-to-Head: 4 Multifunction Printers4:00 PM EST Tue. May. 14, 2013
For Printer Week 2013, the CRN Test Center looked at a variety of new printing and multipurpose office machines for the small and midsize business. For Part 1 of this report, we looked at solutions from Dell, HP, Samsung and Xerox, all of which offer sturdy, feature-rich solutions for the home or small office. But as you might expect, the main differences came in the way of software and their level of integration with the user's operating system. Here's a synopsis of each product. Be sure to visit CRN's Printer Week 2013 page for full reviews.
Once past a few software installation glitches, the Dell C-3765dnf Workgroup Color Printer performed extremely well, cranking out beautiful, photo-realistic color images. Manufactured by Xerox, this machine is a clone of that company's Work Centre 6605 -- also covered here -- but with a black outer shell and Dell-built software and drivers. With a rated duty cycle of 80,000 pages per month, this PostScript unit handles the scanning, copying and faxing requirements of a small and midsize company or departments. When tested, it printed at its rated speed of 36 pages per minute for black, but slowed a bit when outputting color. Still, for $1,099 list including a duplex unit, the 3765 is hard to beat. Resellers will appreciate that the printer arrives with preinstalled CMYK toner cartridges. But our test unit had IP trouble, leading us to a rather unintuitive configuration process. Read the online review for details. One great feature is a job display that shows the application, file name and page count of the current print job. And it beeps when done. Time to first page was between eight and 11 seconds -- even for color -- and color quality was excellent, with no banding or dithering.
With its sturdy construction, versatile functionality, great utilities and solid mobile printing solution, HP's LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn would be the safest $500 you've ever invested. The 425 was among the fastest and easiest printers to set up and configure. And its touch-panel control and intuitive interface are icing on the cake for this black-only MFP for the small-to-midsize office or department. For $499 list, HP delivers a two-sided PCL/PostScript laser printer with high-resolution black-and-white copier, color scanner and fax that's easy to install, set up and use locally or over a network or the web with a free ePrint mobile app. The 425 has a duty cycle of 50,000 pages a month, and the printer and copier cranked out pages at a full 35 ppm. Placing an original in the 50-sheet auto feeder wakes it up from sleep. Two-button presses and 10 seconds later, a perfect duplicate appears in the 150-sheet output bin. A multipurpose tray can hold 50 sheets or 10 envelopes; another 500-sheet tray is $125. Also included are installers, remote management and diagnostics tools well integrated with Mac OS X and Windows. This HP MFP is worth a serious look.
The Samsung SCX 3405FW is a bare-bones mono laser MFP for the small office or department doing less than 10,000 pages a month. This entry-level unit combines a high-resolution, one-sided color scanner and copier with options for faxing (the "F") and Wi-Fi (the "W"). Except for cable connections, all functions -- paper and toner service -- are performed conveniently from the front. A 700-sheet starter toner cartridge is included, about half its normal capacity. Samsung substitutes a paper cassette for a 150-sheet front-loading paper tray, saving some space. This main feeder can hold paper or up to 10 envelopes. The output tray holds 100 sheets; there is no two-sided option. The 3405's scanner has a 40-page auto-feeder and scan-to-PC function. There are no ports for printing from or storing to USB drives or data cards, but the Wi-Fi option supports Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print or Samsung's own Mobile Print App for Android and iOS devices. Samsung's laser printed at 21 ppm, but setup took longer and was more involved than we would've liked. Still, for $199, this entry-level laser MFP performed up to spec.
Unveiled in September, the Xerox Work Centre 6605 Color Multifunction Printer is a sturdy all-purpose workgroup for small to midsize companies. Starting at $999, the 6605 delivered 36 ppm of black and color output with graphics. With a rating of 80,000 pages per month, it's a workhorse. Add a duplexer for another $100. Like its OEM sibling from Dell, Xerox's PostScript color MFP arrives with four toner cartridges preinstalled and 90 seconds after plugging it in, spit out a test page. A 4.3-inch color touchscreen control panel presents large buttons for functions of copying, emailing, faxing and scanning, plus dedicated buttons for copying ID cards and printing from specific devices. Scans can be saved to a network folder (via SMB or FTP), email address (with LDAP) or local USB drive (PDF, JPG or TIFF). There's a USB 2.0 port on the front panel for output or direct printing. The unit had an impressive time-to-first-page of nine to 11 seconds. Gigabit Ethernet and USB are standard; Wi-Fi is optional. The main paper tray holds up to 550 sheets, plus another 150 in a multipurpose tray. Be sure to check out all of CRN's Printer Week 2013 coverage, including Part 2 later this week.