M-tech: Fully Functional

The MFD has become as ubiquitous in the office today as the desktop computer. At the SOHO end of the market, multifunctional devices make sense because they take up very little office space and perform number of functions – printing, copying, and faxing, scanning, emailing, even answering phone calls. You not only stand to save on hardware costs, but also by using one common set of consumables. So one must think very seriously about future requirements before committing to, for example, standalone printer or fax machine. For few dollars more, you can gain lot more functionality.

At the enterprise level, MFDs are also making their presence felt in the digital networked environment. The key issue here is how fast can the machine process and complete multiple jobs? Would it be wise to back it up with standalone printers and copiers to avoid bottlenecks? While some MFDs appear to process jobs faster, the reality is that not all machines treat every job the same way. Some are designed to process bigger jobs faster, while slowing down the printing of the average one-, two-, or three-page document.
Make sure the machine you choose can scan copy jobs to memory, and has ‘walk-up’ interrupt facility for quick jobs. If access is problem, everyone is going to want their own personal desktop printer/copier.

Ultimately you are looking for an MFD that has the ability to produce job after job with no time in between and little degradation to the network. Then productivity will soar. Remember, there will always be limits to what manufacturer can squeeze into one ‘box’, while preserving the integrity of each function and staying competitive on price. So if you don’t wish to compromise too much on speed, quality and reliability, consider the performance offered by each function in isolation.

Multifunctional devices will continue to increase in popularity as standalone devices come up for replacement. Today’s generation of devices are far cry from the earlier machines of the mid-’90s, thanks to smart new interface software, faster processors, and impressive paper handling and finishing options – not to mention network compatibility. Perhaps one of the most useful functions on an MFD is ‘one-touch’ scanning to email. This function allows users to take document, scan it into the machine’s memory, and then have it sent as an email attachment. It’s another step towards making the traditional standalone fax machine redundant.

If your mind’s set on an MFD, look for machine that is ‘friendly to use’. Is the software compatible with your other programs, and are the machine’s functions well integrated and easily accessed via the software? The consumables should be easy to replace and the control panel simple to navigate.

Finally, look beyond the initial purchase price, and factor in all the running expenses to determine the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over the life of the machine. You’ll need to take into account power consumption, scalability, the ease of adding options and accessories, and the lifespan of the machine’s form factor and components. M

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