Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cool gadget #14

I've always been an anti-multifunction office device kind of person. If you got a good printer, it sucked at scanning or faxing. If you got a good fax, it sucked at printing or scanning. If you wanted to print a lot inexpensively, you used a monochrome laser printer. If you wanted to print color, you used an ink jet type printer. None of the multifunction devices seemed to be good enough to replace multiple dedicated devices.

In my home office, I've had a good monochrome laserjet printer (HP 4000TN), a good inkjet printer (HP 1200DN), excellent fax machine (Xerox something or other), a good copier (again a Xerox something or other) and a decent scanner.

Well, that has finally changed. The quality of all-in-one devices has gotten good enough that I now find them acceptable for most office tasks. Well, I guess I should clarify that I find the higher end devices satisfactory. The low end devices still are missing or have brain dead implementations of many of the core features that I require. The HP Color Laserjet CM2320fxi Multifunction Printer is one such all-in-one printer. The cost is a bit high for some home purchases (I paid a discounted $850), but the functionality gives me all the magic features I needed and does them all well enough that I can get rid of the existing multiple devices I have lying about which, together, accomplish some of the same tasks.

This device does the following tasks very well:

  • Built-in network printing from any computer in the house.
  • Black/white laser printing
  • Color laser printing -- looks as good as anything I've gotten off inkjets
  • Automatic duplex printing (printing both sides of the paper).
  • Black/white copying (single or multi-page)
  • Color copying (single or multi-page)
  • Fax sending/receiving with auto document feed
  • Automatic Scanning to email of multi-page documents (PDF)
  • Print directly from camera memory cards

My only complaints are:

  • it is somewhat more noisy than my old laserjet printer, though after a few weeks I've gotten used to it and don't notice it all that much
  • it is tall (because of the scanner unit on top with space for paper outputs and with 2 input trays). So tall that I haven't hooked up the 2nd input tray or the top would hit the cabinets above. It would be nice if the scanner/control unit could be separated and placed to the side of the printer. Yeah that would look like two devices, but it would make it easier for my kids to see the top buttons.

Those are relatively minor nits. We are extremely happy with this printer and all of its features..

That said, I do continue to own a desktop flatbed photo scanner and a dedicated film scanner. I could probably do most of what I want to do with the flatbed scanner with the new device. However, there's a lot of convenience to having it on my desk easily reachable when scanning many prints and I can take it with me when I go to the parents house to scan old pictures there.

So while I have gotten rid of the fax machine, copier, laser printer and inkjet, I still have some specialized devices lying about. And, BTW, I sold the old devices for $100 and sent back the inkjet printer to HP for an upgrade rebate of another $100, so the net cost to me was just $650.

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