Multifunction vs. Multitasking Print Device- Where’s the Distinction?

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Decifering between Multifunction and Multitasking print devices isn’t easy, albeit not impossible. Comparatively, picking white over eggshell paint for your kitchen.

The world of MFPs is as difficult to navigate as interior designer colours—and like those colours, most MFPs look exactly the same. And, not only do the units physically look the same, they also perform the same functions, they: copy, scan, fax and print. This is the essence of multifunction machines, that they can perform multiple different functions–only thing is they can’t do them all at the same time. They may not all be created equal, but they are at least created similar.

Since these machines look the same and perform the same functions it has become a race to the bottom for manufacturers–and consumers–to produce the cheapest machine. Enter the multitasking machine.

Multifunction machines can do multiple jobs; multitasking machines can do them at the same time. But unlike their multifunction predecessors not all multitask machines look the same, and they certainly don’t perform the same. To continue the oddly-placed interior design analogy—telling the difference between multitasking units can be as difficult as distinguishing between sea foam and spindrift blue.

What to Ask

To help you distinguish between the various multitasking machines we’ve put together a list of handy questions, questions designed to help you bust through marketing blasts, like “now available in cerulean blue”, to find the facts:

  • How will the system manage your print queue and is there a maximum number of jobs it can handle simultaneously?
  • What happens to the queue if the current job is delayed, for example with an A4 paper outage? Will the non-A4 jobs be intuitively printed in the meantime or will the queue be put on hold.
  • When a queued job is completed will the system automatically notify the end user who printed it?

Multitasking printing may sound straightforward, a multifunction printer that can walk and talk at the same time, but there are subtle nuances that will make a difference to the printer’s—and your users’–productivity.

What To Look For
So, you know what to ask when looking for a multitasking solution, but what exactly should you be looking for? Never fear, we’ve got you covered there too: with more questions. Ask yourself, then your vendor, the following solution-determining questions:

  • What platform was the system built off of, copier technology or printer technology?
  • What type of engine is built into the system: drum- or cartridge-based? (hint: drum-based machines tend to be copiers while cartridges are generally printer-based)
  • What type of processor powers the system?

Remember, that choosing your system is like choosing an interior design colour—you’re going to be stuck with your choice for a long time. And like interior designers, with printing you get what you pay for. If you want a simple scanner/copier/printer/fax you might be able to cheap out, but multitasking machines cost more, because they do more.

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Hughes Xerographic

All stories by: Hughes Xerographic

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