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Multifunction Printers

We collected more than 2 tons of elite machinery from Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Ricoh, Sharp Document Solutions Co. of America and Xerox in our University of Wisconsin-Madison labs. IBM declined to participate, saying it had no review units available. We also invited Imagistics, Konica, Panasonic, Samsung, Tally Genicom and Toshiba, but none had products that met our requirements.

HP trusted our mechanical aptitude enough to leave the setup to us; we went from boxes to an initial print in 50 minutes. Canon, Ricoh, Sharp and Xerox representatives assembled their products on site at our University of Wisconsin-Madison labs. Canon's, Ricoh's and Sharp's printers took significantly more than 50 minutes to install. Xerox shipped its WorkCentre Pro C2636 mostly preassembled. Each product had a multifunction finisher attached (for more information on finishers, see "FYI: Photo Finish,").

Sales channels vary. Canon, Ricoh and Sharp sell only through closed distribution: You must buy or lease a unit through select local resellers. Xerox distributes its devices directly. HP follows the same open-distribution model it uses for its printers, meaning you can buy from any vendor that carries HP products.

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