How to Buy: All-in-One Home Printers

By M. David Stone  |  Posted 2006-05-04 Print this article Print

Whether for a home office or maybe even your favorite soon-to-be grad, this review can help you pick the perfect printer. (

Are you tired of dad complaining he cant print out his racing scores, or mom wishing she could just print that one adorable family picture? Or maybe youre mulling over the perfect gift for the soon-to-be graduate in your life. Whichever it is, an all-in-one printer can satisfy all your gift needs. The first thing to consider when youre shopping for an AIO is which functions you need. The lowest price models are usually limited to printing, scanning, and copying, but there are lots of other possibilities. The most important other functions are faxing and e-mailing. Some AIOs can also scan film (slides and negatives) by way of a transparency adaptor in the scanner lid.

A few high-price home AIOs double as standalone photo labs to let you print high-quality photos from memory cards, PictBridge-enabled cameras, photographic prints, and transparencies--most often 35mm slides and negatives. Some also let you print directly from other sources, like USB keys.
These photo lab AIOs (for lack of a better term) typically offer a reasonably large color LCD--often 3.5 inches--for previewing photos before printing, and they pair it with an array of buttons and a photo kiosk style menu.

One thing to remember: If you already have a fax software and a fax modem in your PC, you can generally count on using that to control the AIOs scanner, so you can scan and fax, even if the AIO itself cant. Read the full story on How to Buy: All-in-One Home Printers

M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).

Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.

Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.


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