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On the prowl for fine print
Picking the right multifunctional printer depends on, well, multiple factors.
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At a show like Sitex, trying to count the hordes of shoppers lugging away multifunctional printers can be a formidable task.

Yes, these multi-tasking printers - the ones that can print, scan and make copies of documents - are always hot.

However, finding the right all-in-one (AIO) printer for your home can be tough, especially when prices can stretch from $150 to beyond $600.

To begin, decide which type of printing technology you prefer: laser or inkjet.

Choosing an AIO

Laser printers produce crisp and super sharp text and colourful graphics (if you have a colour laser printer), making them ideal for a Soho (small office, home office) environment. Colour laser printers and laser toners can cost a little more than their inkjet counterparts.

Inkjet printers, on the other hand, are excellent for a variety of printing tasks, including photo printouts on glossy paper.

Resolution-wise, 4,800 x 1,800 dots per inch (dpi) is the norm for inkjet printers. For laser AIOs, the resolution should be 1,200 x 600 dpi.

The rule-of-thumb: the higher the dpi numbers, the sharper the prints.

When it comes to scanning, the optical resolution should be at least 600 x 1,200 dpi. Also, Soho folks should expect to pay at least $300 for AIOs with a fax modem that can send and receive fax documents through a telephone line.

Inkjet AIO

For most homes, an inkjet AIO that can handle a variety of tasks and accepts different types of paper media is recommended - especially if you like printing photographs. Do not just look for a budget model.

Paying more - between $300 and $600 - for better features can make life easier in the long run.

For example, a colour LCD preview screen and memory card slots should be considered a priority if you are a photo buff.

An AIO with these features can be used as a standalone photo printer. So, you don't need to turn on your computer when you need to edit and print photos.

For photo prints with better colour reproduction, go for an AIO that supports six different inks instead of the usual four.

Finally, a built-in Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b/g) connection or an Ethernet port should be a prime consideration if you have a wireless network at home and would like different computers to share the same printer.

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