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Multifunction printers review

Multifunction printers are convenient and versatile, but which are better value - and better for you?
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Person waits eagerly for printer to print

In this report, we take a close look at more than 80 multifunction printers (also known as "AIOs" or all-in-ones) – inkjets and lasers, both colour and mono. See Brands and Models tested, below. Half of them cost less than $200, but don't let that fool you: the purchase price is a small proportion of the cost of ownership – printer ink for inkjet printers is one of the most expensive fluids on earth, and the toner used by laser printers is expensive too. That's why we look at the total cost over three years. And now, for the first time, we've included an assessment of the ink used by inkjet printers in their cleaning cycle. The results may surprise you.

Modern printers are sophisticated pieces of technology, and they can produce impressive results, but that comes at a cost. Inkjet printers, when they're not in use, can accumulate air in the ink cartridges, and dried ink or dust on the print heads, so if they've not been used for a while they perform a cleaning cycle before printing which itself uses ink. For most of the inkjets in this report (except those we tested before we introduced this test) we've measured this excess use over a three-week period of low usage, and report on the percentage of excess ink used as a result. You can find details of this testing in How we test.

Laser printers don't have a corresponding cleaning cycle, and our measurements show no significant increase in the amount of toner used when the printer is used infrequently. But there may be other costs associated with lasers that we haven't included in the three-year calculation. Laser printers work by electrically charging a rotating drum, then using a laser to "write" on the drum by dispelling the charge. Particles of toner with an opposite charge are then released and adhere to the drum where the charge has been removed by the laser. They're then transferred to the paper and fixed in place, or fused, by a heated roller. The drum and the fuser unit will need replacing periodically. While a toner cartridge might print hundreds or even thousands of pages before it needs to be replaced, the drum will last much longer (see Compare printers). There's more detail of these costs in the section on Costs of ownership.

Choosing between an inkjet and a laser depends on how you intend to use your printer. Inkjets require no warm-up time, and can print glossy pictures on photo paper, but they do use extra ink in the cleaning cycle when they're not used frequently, and paper output can smear when wet, for example, when you use a highlighter. Lasers on the other hand literally need to warm up, can't print on photo paper and generally don't have such vibrant colours, but they can work out cheaper for normal printing.

But the choice of laser or inkjet is only the first decision:

  • Do you really need colour? A monochrome laser will be much cheaper to buy and to run.
  • Do you need the scanning and copying features of a multi-function printer, or is a standard printer - and perhaps a separate low-cost scanner - sufficient?
  • Do you need extra features such as double-sided printing, A3 paper support, photo-printing from memory cards and wireless networking?
  • How important is printing speed and the quality of the print-out? Our section on What to look for will help you decide.

For many purposes, printing it yourself may not even be the best option - there are many bureaux and services that can print photos and albums, or even copy colour documents, much more cheaply (see our Guide to Going Paperless).

You'll find our comparison of all the printers tabulated in Compare printers - there are now over 70 factors in the table for you to consider - and What to buy tells you which printers did best in our tests.

Brand and Models

Inkjet printers
Brother DCP-J4110DW
Brother DCP-J552DW
Brother DCP-J752DW
Brother MFC-J220
Brother MFC-J4410DW
Brother MFC-J4510DW
Brother MFC-J470DW
Brother MFC-J4710DW
Brother MFC-J650dw
Brother MFC-J6510DW
Brother MFC-J6520DW
Brother MFC-J6720DW
Brother MFC-J6910DW
Brother MFC-J6920DW
Brother MFC-J870DW
Canon Pixma iX6550
Canon Pixma MG2260
Canon Pixma MG2560
Canon Pixma MG3260
Canon Pixma MG3560
Canon Pixma MG4260
Canon Pixma MG5560
Canon Pixma MG6360
Canon Pixma MG6460
Canon Pixma MG7160
Canon Pixma MP230
Canon Pixma MX396
Canon Pixma MX526
Canon Pixma MX926
Epson Expression Home XP-100
Epson Expression Home XP-200
Epson Expression Home XP-300
Epson Expression Home XP-400
Epson Expression Home XP-410
Epson Expression Photo XP-850
Epson Expression Photo XP-950
Epson Expression Premium XP-510
Epson Expression Premium XP-600
Epson Expression Premium XP-610
Epson Expression Premium XP-700
Epson Expression Premium XP-710
Epson Workforce Pro WP-4540
Epson Workforce WF-2530
Epson Workforce WF-2540
Epson Workforce WF-3520
Epson Workforce WF-3540
Epson Workforce WF-7510
HP Deskjet 1510
HP Deskjet 2540
HP Envy 120
HP Envy 4500
HP Officejet 4620 e-All-in-One
HP Officejet 6620 e-All-in-One
HP Officejet 6700 Premium e-AIO
HP Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-AIO
HP Officejet Pro 8100
HP Officejet Pro 8600 e-AIO
HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-AIO
HP Officejet Pro X476dw
HP Photosmart 5520
HP Photosmart 6520
HP Photosmart 7520

Colour laser printers
Brother MFC-9970CDW
DELL C1765nfw
DELL C2665dnf
HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M177fw
HP Laserjet Pro 100 MFP M175nw
HP LaserJet Pro 200 color MFP M276nw
Samsung CLP-415N
Samsung CLX-3305FW
Samsung CLX-4195FW

Mono laser printers
Brother DCP-7060D
Brother MFC-7360N
Brother MFC-7460DN
Brother MFC-7860DW
Canon imageCLASS LBP 6680x
Canon ImageCLASS MF4890dw
DELL B1160w
DELL B1163w
DELL B1165nfw
DELL B1265dnf
HP LaserJet Pro 400 M401dne
HP LaserJet Pro 400 M425dn
Samsung ML-2165W
Samsung SCX-3405FW
Samsung SL-M2875FW

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