| How We Tested
The Test Rig
Our test machine is fairly entry-level - a Intel Pentium 4 560 3.2 GHz processor on a Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 motherboard with 1 GB of 533 MHz DDR2 RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT graphics card, and a 120 GB 7200 rpm ATA IV Seagate Barracuda hard disk. We used Windows XP with SP2 as the OS.
Text/combi-document printouts: 100 gsm (grams per square metre) paper from Berga (A4 size) Photo printouts: 160 gsm glossy photo paper from Novajet (A4 size)
We look for features such as PictBridge, memory card readers, fax, input tray capacity, number of cartridges and so on for the device in general. For the scanner part, we've considered the maximum scan resolution, bit depth, scanner type and the presence of automatic document feeders (ADF). For the copier aspect, we want the ability to work as a standalone device, the maximum number of pages that can be printed in multi-copy mode, reducing or enlarging a copy, and so on, were noted.
The Printer Tests
We use a text document to test the raw print speeds of the printer part of the MFDs. To test the ability of the MFDs to handle the various aspects of a regular document, we create a combi-document, with a mixture of black text, graphs and images. We test print quality at Normal and Best for the combi-document, and just Best for photo prints. We also clocked the time taken in each case.
The Scanner Tests
To test the scanners for speed, we scan an A4-size image five times and average the time taken for each scan - the scanners start out cold, so we need to compensate for the warm-up time.
We import the same image at 150 dpi and 600 dpi in Adobe Photoshop CS2, and scan a full text document in black-and-white at 200 dpi. The scanner then undergoes a test to determine its colour differentiating abilities using a Kodak IT8 card with different shades of colour - each a little different from the preceding one. Next, we use the resolution chart - a chart with five boxes with parallel lines packed very close, and each subsequent box with lines packed more densely. We scan the resolution chart at 300 dpi. This test gives us a measure of the scanner's capability to capture minute details - whether it's able to discern between the lines or not. Finally, an OCR test to checks the scanner's ability to differentiate light and dark areas: a print article is scanned into ABBYY Fine Reader Pro 8.0 PE, and checked for wrongly-interpreted letters. We then count the number of misinterpreted characters.
The Copier Tests
We copy the text document in black and white, and the combi-document in colour, and rate the MFDs on their speed and print quality.
|This is not about any particular category of MFD, but about all the MFDs in general and our experiences with them.
For the convenience of users, HP has a Dial-a-Cartridge system in many cities in India. If you run out of ink, you can dial a toll-free number and order a cartridge which arrives at your doorstep.
A general nuance about HP MFDs is the long time that it takes to install the software. On our test rig, it took us 15 minutes on average for all the HP MFDs in the test. Though this is a one-time affair, HP needs to pay some attention to this - it's plagued us for a few years now.
Brother MFDs are good for office - that's what they're meant for - but a peculiar thing we noticed about them is their seming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: they spend around two minutes cleaning the cartridge every time they are switched on for a photo print. Despite that, the colours are faded - we're left wondering what kind of cleaning was done. One more issue we faced with Brother was that none of their MFDs could pick up the 160 gsm photo paper, so we had to replace it with the lighter 110 gsm paper to get things moving.
All the MFDs came with software suites that include photo editing as well as OCR software, so you need not purchase additional software as these are more than sufficient for general needs.
|Contact Sheet-Inkjet MFDs|
|Brother||Brother International (India) Pvt Ltdfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Canon||Canon India Pvt Ltdemail@example.com|
|Epson||Epson India Pvt Ltdfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|HP||Hewlett-Packard India Sales Pvt Ltdemail@example.com|