by July 30, 2012 0 comments



MFDs have seen a sea change in their buying pattern, with emphasis now shifting to how much power it consumes, how well connected is the device to a network, or what special features does it have. MFDs are available from 5k to 100k, but there is a vast difference between them in terms of features, durability, power consumptions, ergonomics, etc.

Most of these MFDs feature printer, scanner and copier, with some supporting fax as well. The fax function affects the cost to some extent. Other major ones are the performance specs of the MFD, its recurring costs, and the features. Before evaluation, it is important to understand your requirement, such as how many pages do you print and copy every month, how much scanning do you do and so on. Then see which MFDs are available with similar duty cycles, and go for one with a slightly higher duty cycle to account for future growth in your work requirements. If you do bulk printing, then speed is crucial. Here are the considerations for you to look for before you lay your hands on.

Ergonomics

Handling an MFD is critical to the purchase decision. The easier it is to operate, the popular it will be amongst buyers. Position of controls and how easy is operating them, how big and useful is the display are the crucial questions to ask. Auto-duplex, networking, scan to email, etc are some of the recurring questions that direct purchase decisions. Wireless networking is also important, since a well-connected printer saves time and labor. Duplex printing is an essential feature for both business and personal printing.

Printing tests

Three major features were done to test the printing capabilities of the MFDs. Printing speed, time taken for the first page to print, and quality of prints. Time taken for the first print to come is usually longer as some MFDs need to warm-up and buffer the document before they can start printing? For printing speed, we counted the number of prints per minute based on a 40 page print command. For testing the print quality, we printed a full-page monochrome graphic as well as line-art and curves.


Copier

For copier testing, we checked the time taken to copy a full-page of text. The copies were then compared on how true they were to the original documents. The copy speed also correlates to the copy volume with faster devices generally having a larger copy volume.


Scanner

Scanner testing was done by taking into consideration two basic parameters –scan time and quality of scanned images. We also considered the scan resolution in optical and interpolated form.


Networking

One of the key features in MFDs is the ability to connect with a customers’ computer network. Once connected to the network a single MFD gets connected to the internet. As a general rule, almost all mid-volume sized machines upwards come with full network functionality as standard.


Features and build

Compact yet powerful is what makes MFDs desirable, especially if the price is within budget. Features like scan to PC, print through and email or downloading documents online, directly into the MFD to print without having to connect with a PC or USB etc are some of the interesting and useful features that MFDs come with. They add to their appeal and overall value. Compact printers take lesser desk space and so are always favored.


How we tested

We used our three axis model of performance, price, and features for evaluating all the printers. We used the Brown-Gibson model to arrive at the weightages for the various parameters that we used for scoring. For the testing of MFDs, a laptop (Intel core i5 processor, 4 GB RAM) and a standard bundle of 100 pages were used. At a time, all 100 pages were commanded for print and then time taken for first print out was recorded. After one minute, printing process was canceled and pages were counted for PPM (prints per minute). Likewise CPM (copy per minute) was calculated. Same procedure was adapted for duplex printing and copying. Time taken for the scanning of page was done for a setting of 300dpi. For Print quality testing, we checked for smallest readable font, full-page monochrome graphic and Line art and curves.

What SMEs look for in an MFD?[image_library_tag 734/63734, border=”0″ align=”right” hspace=”4″ vspace=”4″ ,default]

Buying decision of an SME revolves around three key criteria: TCO, business efficiency, green technologies. To align with the increasing demand Xerox provides functionality that lead to cost reduction yet improving business efficiency.
Duplex Printing/Copying Is now a standard Desire in all the MFDs considering both the cost implications and Sustainability Factors. Xerox provides duplex printing feature to save costs of paper and improved functionalities like color scanning enables customers to perform operations from one single device.
Features like color access control restricts all users in workgroup to print in color and only allows that enlisted users to print in color. They prefer MFDs which are concurrent i.e. can do multiple jobs at the same time.
Document security and print security features are also key expectations from customers.

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SMEs have played a very important role in driving the economic growth of developed countries as well as developing ones. That SMEs play a pivotal role in India is evident from the fact that they provide direct employment to more than 31 million people.[image_library_tag 736/63736, alt=”” hspace=”4″ vspace=”4″ border=”0″ align=”left” ,default]
A Multifunctional Device is an office machine which incorporates the functionality of multiple devices in one. These devices offer centralized document management/distribution/production ideal for an office setting. MFDs can be valuable to businesses of all sizes, as they reduce the amount of space taken up by standalone printers, photocopiers and fax machines, and often their features can be accessed across a network.
Realising the fact that SMEs have played a very important role in driving the economic growth of developed countries as well as developing ones, SMEs have faced challenges investing in the right technology. Therefore, it becomes imperative to provide the Technology/connectivity adoption to SMEs of today at lower operational costs and also the technology outsourcing and methodologies followed in large enterprises that could be applicable to SMEs

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In today’s challenging and competitive environment, SMEs have realized that right kind of technology investments can help them secure a more level playing field.[image_library_tag 738/63738, alt=”” hspace=”4″ vspace=”4″ border=”0″ align=”right” ,default]
Adoption of technology in SMEs is directly dependent on bringing down the total cost of ownership, safeguarding investments and increasing ease of use.
Gone are the days when SMEs just considered one or two key parameters before buying an MFD. Now SMEs prefer to consider the total cost of ownership while zeroing in on buying an MFD.

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