Printer Scanners: The Pros and Cons of All-In-One Devices

Picking the best printer scanner for home office use is a difficult task, but there are some key considerations that will help take the pressure off.

Printer scanners are versatile pieces of office equipment, bundling essential functions into a single package. They come in a range of price points, form factors, and performance levels, but the wide selection of printer scanner models can make it difficult to narrow down which options will best fulfill your needs. Here are some tips to separate the nice-to-haves from the deal-breakers to pick the printer scanner that will work best for you.

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What to consider before buying a printer scanner

Personal use printer scanners typically boast similar features between models, but they vary wildly where performance is concerned. Before setting out to find an all-in-one printer scanner, consider your needs carefully. For many people, ink efficiency will be the main concern. Ink gets expensive, and investing in an inefficient, cheap printer scanner combo will cost you more in the long run. Check how many estimated pages the models you’re considering will print with a single cartridge, both for color and black and white pages. Many printers will even offer a “cost per print” statistic to make the comparison easier.

Image quality is another important consideration. Those that are less budget-conscious should compare the dots per inch (DPI) for each printer that they’re thinking about buying, as that correlates directly with image quality and price. The baseline should be 300 DPI, which is considered a good quality for standard printing. Higher resolution printing can be 600 DPI or more.

Finally, take into account the available space the printer is going into. Printer scanners are a great way to save space over two dedicated units, but they can run large. Be sure to measure your available space and compare it to the dimensions provided by the manufacturer of your chosen device.

The biggest pros and cons of all-in-one printer scanners

Pro: Printer scanners are seemingly convenient

It's true that printer scanners are a valuable tool for personal use or for small businesses. With the rise of remote work, there’s a chance that you’re just now beginning to see how essential home office equipment can be, and an all-in-one printer scanner seems like a good solution for a basic need. Having multiple functions in a single device also has distinct appeal in already cluttered home office environments.

Did You Know? The ScanSnap family of scanners specializes in versatility and ease-of-use at an affordable price. Click here to learn more.

Con: Printer scanners are printers before anything else

The reality is that all-in-one printers often have fewer features than dedicated devices. You’d expect an all-in-one printer scanner to treat the scanner function with as much love as the printing side of things, but that’s rarely the case. Instead, printer scanners can make scanning documents a cumbersome task, especially in bulk. You should carefully weigh how often you’ll be scanning documents before committing to an all-in-one unit. If you find yourself frequently scanning a large volume of receipts, documents, tax forms, or family photos, you may be better served by a dedicated scanner.

The best small printer scanners

Choosing between an all-in-one device and discrete printers and scanners requires careful thought. If you’ve decided a printer scanner is the right option for you, but you’re worried about space, Ricoh has a solution. The RICOH C125 MF includes both a high-powered scanner and a blazing-fast color printer — all packed into a demure footprint. The C125 MF comes in at just 16.5 inches wide by 19.4 inches deep and 18.6 tall. That lets it fit comfortably in any office environment.

Did You Know? PCMagazine said the ScanSnap iX1600 “... stands out with its excellent software bundle, performance, and ease of use.” Click here to read the full review and learn why it earned an “outstanding” 4.5 out of 5 rating.

Why a dedicated scanner may be worth it

While all-in-one printer scanners are good options for basic printing and infrequent scanning, a dedicated office scanner can make it far easier to capture documents and keep your office organized in the long run. The best office scanners will have software that sorts documents by type, keeping all of your important information as organized and easily accessible as possible. Single-purpose scanners will also typically have better optical character recognition (OCR) software, which makes it easier to search documents for information.

It may seem like a 3rd party document scanning service can circumvent buying a dedicated scanner, but the cost of scanning documents will outweigh the price of a dedicated document scanner with just a few thousand pages. At the end of the day, a dedicated scanner is the best option for those that are looking for daily convenience, quality, and cost-effectiveness.

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX1600

We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a home document scanner. We pride ourselves on having spent the last 50+ years designing and developing some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy-to-use, one-touch ScanSnap scanners.

Our ScanSnap iX1600 excels at delivering high-quality document scanning and a top-tier software experience. Our engineers have taken painstaking steps to ensure that the ScanSnap iX1600 delivers the speed and quality you expect from your home office equipment, with a 50-page Auto Document Feeder, 40 page per minute scan speed, and streak reduction to produce clean document scans. Plus, its compact size makes it a no-brainer for even the most cramped of office spaces. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.