Anyone who has ever used an inkjet printer can tell you this: The ink dries out, especially if you print infrequently.
It affects all brands and all inkjet models. Simply because ink is a
liquid and evaporates when exposed to air. The ink residue at the
nozzles of the ink cartridge dries out first, clogging the nozzles.
Because of this, inkjet printers often incorporate a self-cleaning
feature to prevent this.
"Factors such as climate and humidity affect the lifespan of the
cartridge. For instance, a dry environment with either very warm or
very cold temperatures may shorten it," explained Canon Singapore's
assistant director, Mr Edwin Teoh.
The only real solution is to use a laser printer, whose ink comes in a dry powder form.
Laser printers used to be so expensive that they made sense to be
used only in offices, where the printing volume was high enough to make
the initial cost worthwhile.
In recent years, the hardware has become more affordable. A
monochrome laser multi-function printer (MFP) can be bought for less
than $200 now. Prices have declined the most for colour laser printers.
Their average selling price here has slid from $745 to $554 in the past
three years, said market tracker, GfK Asia.
And buyers have snapped up these cheaper printers. Canon told
Digital Life that the adoption rate of laser colour MFPs has leapt by
more than fivefold in the past three years. GfK Asia's figures indicate
that unit sales have doubled.
In contrast, sales of single-function laser printers have fallen slightly in the same period.
The move towards multi-function printers is mirrored in other
markets. They made up more than 45 per cent of all laser colour
printers sold in Asia Pacific in 2011. This number went up to 49 per
cent last year, said Gartner analyst, Ms Zalak Shah. She expects such
sales to keep growing as the price gap between single- and
multi-function models narrows.
Besides being more affordable, the latest colour laser MFPs are
likely to come with features which let you print wirelessly from mobile
The five printers - ranging from under $500 to about $700 - in this round-up all have mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
As the most expensive model in
this round-up by a fair margin, this Brother printer has much to prove.
Its specifications certainly look good.
This is an LED printer, which is similar to a laser printer. Its
actual print speed is the highest of this lot of printers, at 23 pages
a minute (black-and-white and colour). Samsung's Xpress C460FW comes
closest at 18 pages for black-and-white printing, but manages only four
pages a minute for colour.
The Brother comes with a colour 3.7-inch touchscreen, larger than any on the multi-function printers reviewed here.
It is useful for navigation and control. Understandably, the
touchscreen is not as responsive as those found on mobile devices. This
can be frustrating when you make a swipe gesture on the screen and
It has a touch-sensitive backlit keypad which lights up when
required, such as when you are sending a fax. Except for the power
button, all the buttons are touch-based, which makes for a clean look.
The paper tray holds 250 sheets, easily beating its shoot-out rivals
whose trays top out at 150. It also has a 35-page auto document feeder.
The MFC-9330CDW supports automatic duplex printing, which, as anyone
who has ever used this feature can tell you, is convenient and saves
Wi-Fi Direct is supported - this means you can print directly from a
supported mobile device or laptop without connecting the printer to a
Brother's iPrint & Scan app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7)
does not look snazzy, but it will let you print documents and photos
from a variety of sources, including cloud services, such as Dropbox,
Evernote and OneDrive.
For offices, this printer has a Secure Function Lock feature, which can restrict up to 25 users from printing in colour.
The Brother MFC-9330CDW produces decent black-and-white print-outs,
but its colour prints were far from the best. The bar charts which it
printed showed mild banding.
Its black toner costs $95 for about 2,500 pages - the cheapest of
the five printers here. However, heavy users will have to factor in the
replacement cost of the drum ($185, good for 15,000 pages).
Yield: Up to 2,500 standard pages per cartridge (black) and 1,400 pages per cartridge (colour)
Print resolution: Up to 600 x 2,400 dots per inch
Speed: Up to 23 pages per minute (black), 23 pages per minute (colour)
Tested speed: 23 pages per minute (black), 23 pages per minute (colour)
Value for money: 4/5