The TDSIT Blog

Ultimate Guide to Differentiating Multifunction & Multitasking Devices

Posted by Tim Stanley on Thu, Oct 04, 2012 @ 08:33 AM

multifunction printerIn recent years, printer technology has improved by leaps and bounds. Gone are the days of a roomful of machines for printing, faxing, copying and scanning. The new generation of machines combine all of these functions into one unit. 

As a small business owner, determining your needs is paramount when making a decision on which technology to invest in for your business.  When you are looking at all-in-one machines, you have two basic choices, multifunction or multitasking. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Multifunction Printer MFP

The multifunction printer MFP combines the functionality of several different machines into one desktop unit. They are all fairly similar in function, footprint and design. The multifunction printer MFP can print, scan, fax, email and copy, can be controlled from the printer unit, and also comes with software for control from your desktop. Many of the newest MFPs use WIFI technology which means that they can be accessed remotely via WIFI, by anyone, from anywhere in your office.

The main difference between multifunction printer MFP and multitasking printer is that a multifunction machine can only perform one task at a time.  They are generally best used in a home office or small business setting where complex multiple jobs are not a priority. Since all of these machines basically look the same and perform the same functions, it has been a race to the bottom to produce the lowest cost multifunction printer MFP for consumers.  Enter the multitasking machine.

Multitasking Printer MTP

The multitasking printer offers all of the same functions as the multifunction printer MFP with the added benefit of handling more than one task at a time. That means it is possible, for example, to have several print jobs in queue while you are sending or receiving a multi-page fax. This functionality makes the multitasking format ideal for a busy office where high productivity is a must.

The multitask technology can be built on either copier or printer technology.  This makes for subtle but important differences when choosing a machine. Since the entry point for a multitasking machine tends to be significantly higher, it pays to do your homework!

Questions to Ask

Once you have determined your basic need for a multitasking printer you need to ask several important questions to narrow your search for the machine that is right for you.

Here are a few things to consider when making your decision.

• How will your system manage your print queue and how many jobs can it handle simultaneously?

• What happens if the current job is delayed? If there is an A4 paper outage, will the non-A4 jobs moved up in queue and be printed?

• When a job is completed will the system automatically notify the end user who printed it?

Once you’ve answered these functionality questions, the next step is to ask your vendor these questions about the machines architecture.

• Is the machine built on copier or printer technology?

• What type of engine is built into the system; drum or cartridge based?  Drum machines tend to be copiers, while cartridge based machines are generally printer based.

• What type of processor powers the system? Is it compatible with your existing IT infrastructure?

If you are looking for a simple scanner/copier/printer/fax solution, multifunction printer MFPtechnology might be the way to go. If you need the power and productivity boost of a multitasking printer do your homework! Multitasking printers cost more because they do more. Educate yourself before you buy or lease your next machine. 

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Tags: MPS, printing efficiency, drum based, cartridge based, multifunction printer, MFP, multitasking printer