Wide Format Inkjet Printer Shootout – Epson versus Canon

For today’s product review we have two industry stalwarts with Epson and Canon squaring off to see which manufacturer has the best wide format inkjet printer.

 

First up is the Epson Stylus Photo 1400. Epson has an exceptional history of producing fine printers, copiers, and scanners, and the wide format Stylus Photo 1400 is no exception.  This printer is one of Epson’s best ever and produces magnificent, ultra high def, 5760 x 1440 dpi photos that are better than anything produced on any other wide format inkjet printer on the market.

The Stylus Photo 1400 has a compact 24.2 x 16.3 x 12.4 inch footprint and is a breeze to setup and use.   The device produces high definition prints up to 13″ x 19″ for extraordinary sized photos, campaign signs, banners, and more.

The Epson Stylus Photo 1400 also features CD and DVD printing which allows for the output of professional looking CDs or DVDs for a digital portfolio.

Additional features include:

  • Borderless 13″ x 19″ photos in as fast as 3 minutes.
  • Ultra Hi-Definition prints with six color ink, Claria, ink for long-lasting photos, banners, brochures, and posters.
  • Professional looking CDs and DVDs – print directly onto the CD or DVD without the need for labels.
  • Speed and Quality
  • Powerful Adobe Photoshop Elements software
  • Individual ink cartridges so you can replace only the ones that are running low.
  • Borderless prints in popular sizes: 4″x6″, 5″x7″, 8″x10″, 8.5″x11″, 11″x14″, 11″x17″, 12″x12″, 13″x19″.
  • Precision color and detail – up to 5760×1440 dpi with ink droplets as small as 1.5 picoliters.
  • Epson proprietary DX5 Micro Piezo printhead technology taht provides prints with professional detail without sacrificing speed.
  • Print on multiple finishes from matte, to luster, to high gloss.
The feature packed Epson Stylus Photo 1400 – a beast for a value $498 price tag.  
Next into the ring is the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mark II.  Canon tried to win the “Longest Model Name” award and I think it has done a great job with that.  Besides the name, the Canon is a feature rich, wide format inkjet printer that stacks up well against the Epson Stylus Photo 1400.  
The Pixma Pro is a powerful and versatile machine that follows a long lineage of Canon printers.  The Pixma Pro’s feature set also includes a PictBridge input that allows the connection of a digital camera or camcorder directly to the printer.  It prints photos at a fast and reliable pace and holds a large volume of paper media.  The Canon’s 26×7.6×13.9 inch footprint is slightly larger than the Epson but still compact and suitable for setup in most home or office environments.    
Primary features of the Canon are as follows:    

  • Borderless paper format support up to 13″x19″
  • Two separate paper paths including a front feeder for heavy or coarse paper types.
  • 8 color ink system
  • Ambient light correction software which optimizes color output to match the specified lighting condition.
  • Canon FINE print head technology.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements
The Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mark II is a world class wide format inkjet printer that is a beautiful device and a bargain at $417.  It falls a little bit short however in the head to head battle against the Epson Stylus Photo 1400 which is our winner in this round of the wide format printer shootout.
 Final verdict – the Epson Stylus Photo 1400.
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Printing Industry is Sad the Election is over

After months of non stop political commercials, mud-slinging and debates, virtually everyone is glad that the elections are over. However, there is one large group that as a whole wishes it would go on for a while longer.  Happy as clams during the campaign season, which seems like its been at least a year, the print industry received a huge boost to their bottom line while printing bumper stickers, campaign signs, and direct-mail post cards.

 

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that nearly $6 billion was spent during the past year on local, state, and national elections.   US Print industry guru and Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus, Frank Romano told PrintWeek that he saw many more lawn signs this year than in past elections, adding ” Many of the signs in people’s lawns now have the picture of the candidate on them – this is because of wide format inkjet printers.  In the past, these were done with screen printing, but today they’re done with inkjet.

 

Copy and print businesses, armed with high quality and performance, wide format inkjet printers, were able to provide candidates in every local county and boro with inexpensive banners, posters, and direct-mail flyers and post cards.  Wide format inkjets provide exceptional DPI for the money, and a complete feature set at a lower cost than screen printing.  Some wide format devices are so inexpensive in fact that complete print campaigns can be done from the comfort of home.

 

The Printing industry of America estimates that election years add an average of 1 percent to US commercial printing revenues.  However, many small business owners of printing companies saw the first real increase in business since the 2009 recession due to the election.  Now that the campaigns are over, the boost in revenue that they saw will go away and it will be back to business as usual.

 

Beyond lawn signs however, direct mail post cards and political mailers were sent out in the millions of units.  Another boost to the printing industry ecosystem from the ink and paper suppliers, to the small business that prints the final item, and even to the US Postal Service, which made money (finally) delivering all the election propaganda.  A postal service spokesperson said that the USPS did $337 million in political mail, which did not even include election mail like ballots and registration forms, which added another $50 million to the tally.

 

Despite the election year bump, a Printing Industries of America survey of 208 panelists, showed that overall sales volume was in decline.   For the past few quarters, the majority of the industry growth was generated from larger firms, and since the fourth quarter of 2011, there has been a noticeable trend – larger firms reporting sales growth declining each quarter.  From a high of 5.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, to a low of 2.1 percent in the present quarter.

 

So how can annual sales be up 2.3 percent for the year and the overall trend be going down?  That’s where the election year wild card comes in.  Without this year’s bumper crop of print jobs, the industry would have been been in worse shape than a losing candidate.

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HP Announces new Officejet Pro and LaserJet Printers

HP announced its largest and most ambitious product upgrade in decade with the Wednesday announcement of its new Officejet Pro and LaserJet commercial printer offerings. The new machines showcase HP’s dedication to innovation and leadership in the copy and print industry.

 

HP Officejet Pro X Series

The new Officejet Pro X desktop and multifunction printers (MFPs) will amazingly provide double the output of its predecessor at half the printing cost.  HP plans a Spring 2013 commercial availability for the machine and promises to deliver on the impressive page per minute benchmarks.  The Officejet Pro X is powered by HP’s PageWide technology, an HP engineering innovation that takes commercial printing technologies and scales them to a small work-team application.  Thousands of tiny nozzles built into an immobile print head that scans the width of the page, simultaneously deliver four colors of HP pigment ink onto a moving sheet of paper.  HP is able to reach the remarkable output of 70 ppm because teh paper moves while the print head remains stationary.  Key elements of the PageWide technology platform as detailed in a HP Product description include:

  • A page wide array of 42,240 nozzles that produce ink drops with uniform drop weight, speed and trajectory.
  • 1200 nozzles per inch native resolution for consistently high print quality.
  • HP Pigment inks that provide controlled ink, paper interaction, color saturation, sharp text, and rapid drying.
  • Precise control of paper motion for dependable print quality.
The Officejet Pro X is set to debut in Spring 2013 and will be available in a black and white, color, or multifunction (print/scan/copy/fax) configuration.
HP LaserJet Enterprise flow
The new LaserJet Enterprise flow MFP promises to continue HP’s history of providing outstanding quality and performance in a small or medium business machine.  The LaserJet Enterprise flow, which will debut in Spring 2013 along with the Officejet Pro, will offer high performance document processing and sharing features.  Available in black and white, (MFP M525c) or color (MFP M575c) the new laser jet printers combine high end printing with copying, printing, scanning, and faxing.
The LaserJet with Enterprise flow will also enable content management and security features for the strictest of environments like banks, legal firms, hospitals, and stock exchanges.  The cloud based offering increases collaboration and productivity by easily capturing, indexing, storing, searching, and retrieving documents.  On a stand alone basis, the new LaserJet will provide fast, powerful and reliable prints while reducing the complexity of the print environment in a small footprint for tight workspaces.  The machine produces brilliant prints in black and white or color, and has an industry leading monthly duty cycle.
“Our customers need innovative technology tailored to their workflow that is simple and effective,” said Todd Bradley, Executive Vice President, HP Printing and Personal Systems.  ”HP is offering new ways to print that have not been previously possible – with superb speed and performance to drive to a new level of office efficiency.”
With the Spring release of  the Officejet Pro X and the LaserJet Enterprise Flow, HP continues to evolve and innovate while providing technical leadership in the copy and print industry.
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Konica Minolta Wins Manufacturer of the Year Award

Marketing Research Consultants (MRC) announced earlier that Konica Minolta Business Solutions won its annual “Manufacturer of the Year” award. MRC’s prestigious awards and charity dinner is in its 27th annual year and is attended by every major copier printer manufacturer in the industry. Notably, the dealers and customers provide the input that MRC uses to select the annual winner – proof positive that Konica is focusing on the most important aspect of their business.

 

For the fifth consecutive year, Konica Minolta was recognized as the number one brand for customer loyalty in the MFP copier market. The company, based in Tokyo, Japan and with US headquarters in Ramsey, New Jersey, makes a complete line of printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, and “All-In-Ones” or multi-function printers for home and business use.  One of the most successful product lines is the bizhub mutifunction printer.  The bizhub line of MFP’s are widely recognized as one of the most popular available.  If Konica Minolta wins again next year, this product line will take its share of the credit.

 

Marketing Research Consultants is a printer industry group that publishes leading office equipment trade journals such as the Cannata Report and LiveWire. In selecting Konica Minolta for the award, a company representative cited Konica’s commitment to providing superior products, services, and support to their dealer partners and customers. ” This award acknowledges the confidence the dealer community has in our company…and in particular highlights the success of Konica Minolta for all satisfying all their document management needs.” said Kevin Kern, Senior Vice President Marketing.
In addition to the manufacturing award, Rick Taylor, Konica President and Chief Operating Officer, was named Manufacturer Executive of the Year for an unprecedented sixth time. “Receiving this award is wonderful acknowledgement that our leadership team continues to support our dealers above and beyond their needs,” said Taylor.

 

Going Green

Another reason to applaud Konica Minolta is the companies extensive “Green” initiative.  The company is the first in the industry to provide a cost-free plan for recycling consumables from every product they sell including:

  • Toner Cartridges
  • Imaging Units
  • Waste Toner bottles
  • Developer and Developer Units
  • Drums

The company boasts that not only does it provide all recycling containers free of charge, it pays 100% for all return shipping to its regional recycling facilities – which further help reduce emissions.  Company representatives state that their recycling program is designed to keep harmful toxins and materials off the road and out of landfills as much as possible.  Konica even designs their toner bottles with the planet in mind; all of them are made of HDPE2 – a material that can be collected and recycled at most local facilities.  40% of the plastic in the toner bottles is recycles, and they are made of 100% previously recycled material.

 

Like Them on Facebook

Konica Minolta also wins the Miss Congeniality award year in and year out.  The company promotes social responsibility as one of its core principles.  Company executives claim that by being good global citizens, with respect for the environment, commitment to recycling, and preventing chemical pollution, they will increase value to their customers and the world.

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Lexmark’s Exit of the Inkjet Printer Business

As reported in late August, Lexmark announced its plans to slice the inkjet business from its umbrella of products in an effort to shore up the companies bottom line. Lexmark, a stalwart in the printer industry since 1991 when it was formed as a branch of IBM’s print sector, manufactures and distributes laser, inkjet, and dot-matrix printers, along with printer products and accessories. The list of printer products will be shorter when the company stops making inkjet printers next year.
Lexmark said it would stop development of inkjet printers in 2013 and completely close its supplies factory in Cebu, Philippines by 2015. It is not clear how long Lexmark printers will remain on store shelves, however the company has assured its customers that it will honor all outstanding warranties as applicable for the date that the last inkjet sells. Lexmark also indicated that it will continue to supply inkjet cartridges during this period.
Despite earning $4 billion in revenue in 2011, Lexmark reported that its net profit fell to $39 million for the most recent quarter, a 61% decline from the same period a year ago. Lexmark expects to save approximately $95 million annually after it completes the shuttering of the inkjet division. The company also anticipates the loss of 1,700 inkjet related jobs.

 

Consumer Inkjet Market Decline
Partly due to the soft global economy, consumer inkjet printer sales have declined over the past three years especially in Europe and North America. Part of the softening is due to the shift toward an increasing online world. Traditional consumer level users of inkjet printers – students, families, and small businesses, are doing more and more online now. Not too long ago, a document or photo would have been printed and shared in hard copy. Now, those documents and photos are shared via email or posted to Facebook. Remember those photo kiosks in Wal-Mart and Target? They’re gone now – no need to have a photo processing service when 99% are never printed. The money in printer sales seems to be moving from consumers toward business users. In fact, Epson, HP, and Canon, with a combined 90% market share of global inkjet printer sales, have all made big investments in their business inkjet machines as opposed to consumer inkjets over the past three years, and the trend is continuing. No one thinks that the inkjet business is in danger of going away. There is still ample consumer demand for the machines, driven in large part for peoples love affair with “All-In-Ones” for the increased use of scanners in homes and businesses.

 

Inkjet Market Status
The global inkjet printer business is in no danger of going away due in large part to the popularity of “All-In-Ones” . The ability to have one low-cost machine to print, copy, fax, and scan is a compelling factor for consumers and small businesses alike. Laser printers may be great for text or basic graphics but they’re not nearly as efficient or inexpensive as inkjets are. Inkjet “All-In-Ones” are a tremendous convenience for homes and small businesses whereas “All-In-Ones” were not largely adopted for laser machines.

 

The Bottom Line
Lexmark was being squeezed by the Big 3 of Epson, HP, and Canon, and made a business decision to to exit a failing category so that it could focus on other, more profitable areas of its operations. Lexmark will remain a global talent and major player in the printing business despite its exit from the inkjet sector.

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High Marks for Panasonic KV-S1046C Document Scanner

Panasonic is glowing after receiving high marks for its new KV-S1046C document scanner. The company announced recently that the scanner received the coveted “Highly Recommended” rating from Buyer’s Lab LLC, one of the most respected providers of critical intelligence for products in the imaging industry. As noted in Panasonic’s October 2nd press release, over a two week period, Buyer’s Lab subjected the KV-S1046C to a variety of tests including a tortuous 10,000 sheet durability test. In pinning the “Highly Recommended” badge on the device, Buyer’s Lab noted a long list of key attributes including:

 

- High Reliability
- Faster than average scan speeds of 200 dpi
- Higher than average OCR accuracy for all documents tested
- Larger than average ADF capability
- Scans long documents up to 100 inches – key attribute for documents in the health care industry

- no slow down when duplex scanning

- Up to 50 scan profiles

- Easy to install and simple user maintenance procedures

- Bundled three year limited warranty

- Eighteen control sheets help automate batch scanning

- Change settings via bar code recognition

- Optional Flatbed Scan Mode

- Optional KOFAX VRS elite bundle

 

“The Panasonic KV-S1046C proved to be a strong overall competitor against similarly equipped  A4 scanners in this speed range” stated in September by the comprehensive BLI laboratory  evaluation committee.

 

Style And Performance

For such performance, the KV-S1046C has a sleek, compact design and an intuitive button layout.  It’s small footprint allows it to be placed and operated in crowed environments like reception desks, hospital counters, desktops, or other space confined areas.  Even with its compact body, the device handles a wide variety of documents with different lengths and thicknesses.  It seemlessly combines paper documents along with items with completely different shapes and thicknesses like driver’s licenses or credit cards, in a single batch by using the mixed document batch guide.  Its intuitive button layout conveniently  automates settings that are complicated in other scanners.

 

Power Saving

The KV-S1046C has three power saving functions that complement the overall device features:

 

LED Lighting – The scanning section uses LEDs for its light source to lower power consumption while scanning.

Sleep Mode – Power consumption is suppressed to one watt maximum during sleep mode to save energy while the scanner is not being used.

Power Auto Off – The power automatically turns off at a pre-set time to cut down on wasted electricity.  Approximately 0.3 watts of electricity is consumed when the power is off.

 

Image Processing Functions

 

Format Variety

The KV-1046C allows images to be saved in a variety of formats like PDF, JPEG, TIFF, and BMP.  Scanned data can also be moved and saved in one step.

 

Automatic Image Orientation

This feature automatically rotates documents to the proper orientation based on text and image, no matter how the document is placed in the scanner.  This feature saves time when a variety different documents are scanned at the same time.

 

Sleek, Powerful, and Reliable

The Panasonic KV-S1046C work group document scanner is a powerfully efficient, device that combines reliability with simple to use intuitive functions.  The scanner is available through authorized Panasonic re-sellers starting at a suggested retail price of $1,295.

 

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Will your Copier be compatible with Windows RT?

When Microsoft officially releases its next OS – Windows 8, in the next few days, it will also release its smaller cousin – Windows RT.  First off, the RT doesn’t really stand for anything that I can find.  The Product Managers and engineers simply called it Windows 8 for ARM until the marketing group came up with RT (maybe the engineers named it).  This scaled down version of the full Windows 8 OS is designed to run on devices with ARM processors like, tablets, smartphones, and other similar devices.  In a detailed posting on the Windows 8 blog, Microsoft stated that Windows 8 will have the most extensive re-design of the entire printing architecture since Windows 2000.   Microsoft Product Managers have been taking a beating for years about how bloated and slow the Windows OS is.  A major,  no mandatory, objective of Windows 8 was to take a buzz saw to the memory requirements of all elements of the new OS, with the print driver subsystem a primary target.

As part of the overhaul, Microsoft created a new, extensible,  print driver structure designed to support printing to existing devices, (even if only basic at first), to add support for new devices in the future.  Even more important, the ARM based Windows RT will only use “in-box” print drivers.  By design, this minimal driver approach is designed to streamline the OS.  Microsoft in fact intends to evolve to a “driver-less” print platform.

Copier compatibility

So what does this really mean for a business owner or enterprise that has machines running Windows 7 and needs to support devices running Windows RT?  Basically, it means that users with tablets, or devices running RT won’t be able to take full advantage of some advanced printing features like automatic duplexing or other formatting niceties, but should still be able to do basic printing.   The storm of enterprise devices running RT may be tolerable though if previous Windows OS device releases are a predictor of what volume to expect.

Quietly though, the major manufacturers are hoping that the incompatibility of older machines to the new OS may lead to new machine sales.  Face it, this is a major OS release and it provides an opportunity for the big manufacturers to sell more new copiers and printers.

 

Windows RT Drivers

Sooner or later, all of the major manufacturers will have driver support for devices with Windows RT.  In the meantime though, Windows provides limited driver support via its developer website.  The IT staff is probably already thinking about the slew of calls it will face in the coming days as users with devices running the new OS begin to proliferate the corporate network.

 

Eliminating Bloatware

One of the side effects of evolving to a driver-less printing structure is the reduction of bloatware, add-on services, and applications that often comes along with manufacturers print driver stacks. The elimination of this leech of system resources was one of the goals of Microsoft Product Mangers.

 

The Botton Line

Microsoft deserves a lot of credit with their work on Windows 8 and RT.  They ambitiously are attempting to move to a driver-less system under which users won’t need to add a driver for their device to work with any Windows printing system.  This move may help the entire print and copy market ecosystem.  Compatibility issues will occur in the short term, however, I like the long term prospects of Windows 8 and RT for the copy and print industry.

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Office Copier Shootout- Kyocera vs Lanier

Kyocera TASKalfa7550ci vs LANIER LD375C

Choosing the right copier or Multi-Function Printer (MFP) for your business with the wide variety of available models can be a daunting task. We’ll try to help with a review of the top contenders in a head to head shootout over the next several weeks. This week we’ll review two worthy candidates from Kyocera and Lanier.

First up is the talented but sometimes overlooked contender from Kyocera. The TASKalfa 7550ci is a copier designed to meet the needs of virtually every office user; from the demanding office admins who truly know how a copier should work, to the corner office exec who’s needs to print an occasional document when no one else is there to help. This MFP takes care of the regular day to day document tasks as well as the more complex projects like brochures, flyers, or direct-to-consumer mail campaigns.  The TASKalfa provides standard network print, scan, copy, and fax with outstanding speed and reliability.  This business work horse also provides 75 ppm Black and 70 ppm Color output and am impressive 400,000 pages per month duty cycle.  Documents are produced with 600 x 600 dpi standard and 9600 x 600 dpi interpolated resolution with 8-bit color depth.  It has a maximum capacity of of over 4,000 sheets with size ranging from letter 8 1/2 x 11″ to banner sized 12 x 47″.  It includes full wireless networking and high-speed USB 2.0 connectivity.  Not the prettiest copy machine in the world with its slate grey finish but it gets the job done.

Next up is the LANIER LD375C.   This color copier is a work of art in design and performance.  The LD375C provides true MFP performance with copy. print, scan, fax, and document service functionality.  The work engine efficiently allows two-sided documents without impeding system performance.  This copier provides 75 ppm in Black and 70 ppm Color copies with advance security features like Windows authentication and user-code programming to prevent unauthorized access.  This Lanier comes with 1.5GB RAM and 320GB of hard disk capacity to handle multiple, large color print files.

 

Document Finishing

Both the Kyocera and Lanier provide outstanding document finishing features like collating, stapling, and hole punching.  However, the LD375C provides really complex features like six-position fold and ring binding as well.  When the Lanier is finished printing, all you need is an envelope to ship the Kinkos-like product to the end recipient – Fantastic!

 

Supplies

Regardless of the type of copier your select, office supplies that allow them to produce slick documents, brochures, and presentations can’t be overlooked.  This intangible could add hundreds of dollars to the operating cost of the copier and make you second-guess your selection.  A quick way to estimate this expense is to calculate the cost of stocking the machine to produce its maximum output of product and then multiplying this by twelve to get an annual expense.

 

Bottom Line

This shootout leaves two worthy contenders to consider.  The Kyocera is truly a magnificent machine with proven reliability, capacity, and performance.  The Lanier is equally reliable and has front office good looks, capacity and performance.  After considering all available features and options – the Lanier is a close but worthy winner.

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Mobile Apps Drive Copy/Print use

With the press of a few buttons on your smartphone or tablet, what used to be too much bother is now becoming a driver in digital copy and print use. I admit, I’ve got hundreds of photos on my cellphone that would look awesome in a frame – I just never seem to have time to transfer the files to my PC or copier and pressing PRINT.
Now with the plethora of awesome apps that allow me to connect wirelessly to my copier/printer. I just press a few icons and wait to hear the sound a new photo printing away – Awesome.
Industry experts think this trend will continue as more consumers purchase smartphones and tablets and become aware of new ways to use these devices. Connectivity is the key. The user must have a wireless copier first of all, and then they need a smartphone with an app that provides a path for the device with all the vacation photos, to the copier/printer. How can this affect copier industry as a whole? Copier companies are getting more and more in tune with enabling wireless within their products and the app developers are creating slick new apps that are making it easier for people to connect to those devices when at home or away.
So where do you begin? Well, step 1 is to do a thorough copier comparison to quickly weed out any models that don’t have wireless connectivity as a feature. Next, compare native support for the type of wireless connection you have or plan to use. And lastly, figure out which model has an app that’s available for your device, not all of them do, and in my case, the app was available but didn’t work on my device
As apps continue to evolve, their usefulness and compatibility will continue to grow as well. All of this enhances the overall copier ecosystem of digital photos and printing.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some suggestions to get you going. First, as I mentioned earlier, it’s essential to have a wireless copier or printer. All of the major brands now have wireless SKUs at even their most basic tiers so make sure this is a component in your next copier purchase. Next, a smartphone is essential, as it’s the gateway between your treasure trove of pictures and the copier in your home office. And finally, search for an app that supports your copier. The list of available apps is growing by the day and I’ll have a review of the best of the bunch in a future Blog. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of good apps out there but there’s also a lot of junk that’s pretty much a waste of time. Which one goes best with your copier and smartphone is a little bit of trial and error. Happy Apping!

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Canon Announces New Lineup of Laser Copiers for SMBs

There will soon be new options for small-and-medium businesses to consider in the form of Canon laser copiers in the imageClass lineup. There will be three options in the form of D1370, D1350 and D1320 models.

According to Ecoustics, these products will provide not just copying services, but also printing, faxing and scanning (depending on model). Their price range will be from $499 to $799:

Canon imageCLASS D1320 → $499
Canon imageCLASS D1350 → $599
Canon imageCLASS D1370 → $799

The entry level D1320 will already allow users to scan PDF files to USB flash drives. D1350 will add the functionality of faxing to the capabilities among other features. THe premium-level D1370 will come packed with features including Canon’s Send Lite feature that offers users the ability to scan digital files or documents and send them to co-workers’ e-mail addresses and network folders as compressed PDF files. Look for them sometime this month.

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