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Buyer's Guide: What To Look For In An All-In-One Printer

If you run a small business, an all-in-one printer is often the way to go. Not only does it save valuable space, but it also makes many tasks much more convenient. In turn, you may even discover that your productivity increases. But with trusted brands offering many different options for all sorts of budgets, how do you begin to choose?

First consider the functions that are most important to you. Most all-in-ones offer copying, faxing, printing, and scanning, but others offer just a few of those functions. Determine your needs, and then narrow down your buying options by considering the options below.

Inkjet Versus Laser Printer

How you plan to use your printer, as well as how often, impacts the choice here. If you're planning on printing a lot of photos and don't mind slow printing speeds, opt for an inkjet printer. Replacement ink cartridges are often inexpensive with inkjets, particularly if you can buy each color ink cartridge separately (rather than a 3-in-1 cartridge). But if you'll be printing and copying a lot in general, and want a printer that runs quickly and quietly, opt for a laser jet. The print quality tends to be higher because the toner is less likely to spread across the paper.

Wireless Versus Computer Connection

While finding an all-in-one printer that works only when connected to your computer will save you money, it's often not as useful when multiple computers need to be able to print. In a small office setting, opt for a printer that supports a network, either through an integrated ethernet network interface or wireless connectivity.

Other Considerations

All-in-one printers often offer functionality to make printing, copying and scanning easier, so also narrow your options down by considering the following:

  • How often will you be scanning? If it's frequently, choose a printer with an automatic document feeder. If not, go for a flatbed scanner, which will reduce your price point.
  • Do you need to print on both sides? If so, be sure the printer allows duplex printing.
  • Check operating system requirements. Not all printers will work with all computers. Check compatibility before purchase.

Print quality is important no matter what your business. The DPI (dots per inch) you require of your printer will depend on what you are printing. Look for a printer in the range of 600 DPI to 1,200 DPI -- especially if you're printing photos.

One last consideration that seems like a small choice, but can save you loads of time: Pay attention to how many blank pages the printer tray can hold, so you don't have to constantly refill it.

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she's scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at

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