The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
One of the smaller revolutions of the computer industry almost slipped past me. I have ignored the recent growth of "all-in-one" printers. I have owned and used a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 1320 printer for years, and it continues to perform flawlessly. It even prints on both sides of a sheet of paper. I have it connected to a Macintosh system which, in turn, shares the LaserJet on the network in my home. The laser printer is available to all the computers in my home, as long as the Macintosh is powered up. I can print to it from my Macintosh, Windows, and Linux desktop systems as well as from my laptop, and family members can also print to it from their computers.
Of course, the LaserJet 1320 only prints in black-and-white. Color laser printers are available today but at higher prices. Color inkjet printers are available at rather low prices, typically starting at $40 or so.
I am still happy with my LaserJet's performance, but in recent months I have become aware that I am missing a few things.
First, I occasionally need to print in color. Next, I do own a portable scanner that I use for scanning documents; however, because it is portable, I leave it zipped up in my laptop's carrying case. Using the portable scanner at home means retrieving the carrying case, taking out the portable scanner, connecting it to a computer's USB port, and then (slowly) scanning the pages one-by-one. I purchased this scanner primarily because of its portability. As a result, I gave up speed and convenience. The portable scanner does a great job of scanning documents, but it is very slow. What's more, when scanning many sheets of paper, I have to sit in front of the scanner and manually feed the documents in one at a time.
When visiting the local office supply store, I began to notice a number of All-In-One (or “AIO”) printing devices on display. Besides printing, these devices also function as scanners, copiers, and even FAX machines. Many of them have built-in sheet feeders: insert ten or more sheets of paper, press a button, and walk away. When you return, all the pages have been scanned (some all-in-one scanners even scan both sides of every document), and the digital images reside in the attached computer. That sure seemed like a good idea.
I don't have much need to send FAXes, but lately the requirement seems to happen more and more often. When I need to send a FAX, I usually drive to the local office supply store and spend a dollar or more to send the FAX there. That always seemed like the cost-effective solution: a dollar a FAX or maybe a bit more seemed cheaper than buying a FAX machine. Of course, that ignores the value of my time. The FAX feature of the AIO (All-In-One) printers could save both time and money in the long run.
With my (old) portable scanner I can make copies of any documents by first scanning them and saving them to a computer's hard drive, then printing the image(s) on my LaserJet printer. As long as I don't need to make many copies, this is an awkward, but suitable, substitute for a copier. If I have to make a number of photocopies, I typically drive to the local office supply store and make the copies there for a modest fee. Once again, this ignores the value of my time.
I recently started a new business venture (not genealogy-related) and now find that I have to make many photocopies every week. It was while making copies for a fee at the office supply store that I began to notice the AIO printers on display.
I think you see the trend here. Every time I was “wasting time” at the office supply store, I was looking at the rows of AIO printers / scanners/ copiers / FAX machines on display. Each trip to my nearest office supply store requires a minimum of forty-five minutes: fifteen minutes to drive there, fifteen minutes to conduct my business, then fifteen minutes more to drive home. Sometimes I wasted a few more minutes as I wandered through the store's aisles looking at All-In-One devices. I began to realize I was making this trip two or three times a week. Add in a bit more for gas and for other automobile expenses and I soon realized I was spending quite a bit of money to make photocopies or to send FAXes. I began to calculate how much time and money I would save if I obtained an AIO device. I decided to modernize.
As I started investigating the available AIO devices, I soon became overwhelmed. There are many to choose from, and it seems as if no two of them have exactly the same features. Prices start at about $50 and go upwards. Way, way upwards. Some of the AIO devices at my local office supply store sell for $400, and I have seen even more expensive units sold for office use. Trying to compare all of these devices to find the best one for my needs seemed to be a monumental challenge. Before purchasing an AIO device, I made a list of requirements.
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