Scanners, Printers And Photocopiers
When furnishing your home office it probably makes sense to get an inclusive fax-photocopier-printer-scanner to start with. That way you can you see exactly how much use you will make of each function. Obviously an all-in-one takes up much less space than the four machines would take separately. They are also cheaper initially, as you can pick one up for under $100, while getting them all separately would cost around the same for each machine!
In comparison, a high end stand-alone LaserJet printer can cost up to $4000! There are other issues to consider though when weighing the pros and cons of buying an all-in-one or separate machine.
The first issue to address is one familiar to all multi-taskers. By trying to do too many things at once, such machines are often poor at one, two or even all of the tasks they perform. All-in-ones often sacrifice convenience for quality as it can be difficult for the manufacturers to ensure that all the functions work equally well. You will therefore need to consider what your office needs are.
If you require a great deal of scanning, but little photocopying, it may make sense to purchase a multipurpose machine with a superior scanner, since you don't need a top notch photocopier. The photocopier will be perfectly serviceable, but if you begin to use it a lot you may start to have copy problems. Whereas if you do mostly photocopying it makes more sense to get an all-in-one that does good copying.
If you want a function that also produces great photos you may need a high-end all-in-one or even prefer to get a stand-alone printer. Of course, as with any machine you buy you should check customer reviews and feedback on a reputable comparison or company website.
One of the most important considerations when buying an all-in-one or a printer/copier is the cost of the ink/toner. Very often with very cheap machines it is actually cheaper to buy a new machine than replace the ink! Checking the size of the ink cartridge and whether you can replace each color separately is essential. If you use mostly black, as most of us do, you don't want to have to replace the three color cartridges at the same time if you've hardly used them! You also need to have some indication of how much ink you have left. This is important as in some models, removing the cartridge to check the ink quantity makes the computer think there is no ink left even after you have replaced it!
A good individual printer is better than one that is part of a combination function machine, so if you need high quality work you will probably need a more expensive high quality printer. However if you don't do much printing, but still need some things done to a higher level (business cards, glossy presentations etc), then it may be more appropriate to get such things done professionally.
If you have a photocopy/print shop nearby it can make sense to take or send all your high end work there. You can use email, online storage facilities such as dropbox, or personal USB sticks so you can move your document as a digital file from one computer to another with ease.