Perfecting the Printer

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Wasn't paper supposed to go away with the onset of the Digital Age? Add that to the list of predictions that haven't panned out. Many of us are printing now more than ever, both in the office and at home.

One big reason: digital photography. Home photo-printer sales rose 33% last year from 2004, according to InfoTrends/Cap Ventures. Printer makers are refining their stand-alone models, making them smaller, sleeker, and equipped to produce prints as clear and vivid as those from the corner drugstore.

At the same time, manufacturers are doing a better job of weaving photo-printing features into the machines already adept at cranking out paper copies and sending faxes, heightening the appeal of multifunction printers.


  With all that upheaval, we thought it would be a good time to take a closer look at a range of machines, from stand-alone photo printers to those that do it all. In the multifunction category, we looked at offerings from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Dell (DELL), while in the photo category, we sampled printers from Samsung, Epson, Lexmark (LXK), and Canon (CAJ).

Readers won't be surprised to learn that all printers are not created equal. They range from $150 to as much as $400. One received two of five stars and another got a rare 4½-star rating. There's bound to be one that's right for you.

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