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October 1996 Reviews TOC

10/96 Reviews: Head to Head: Multifunction Machines

Multifunctional Machines Prove Their Worth

By Jonathan Blackwood

Among the dozens of multifunction devices-combinations of printers, scanners, copiers, fax machines and sometimes modems-two new entries stand out: Canon's MultiPASS C2500 and Toshiba's TF-601. The Canon unit offers a color bubble jet printer, great software and a knock-'em-dead price of $599. The Toshiba unit, though substantially more expensive at $1,799, includes a 300-dot-per-inch laser printer, an unusual amenity for such a small multifunction device.

Canon's approach to a multifunction device begins with a high-quality color bubble jet printer with a resolution of 720x360dpi. It's reasonably fast, too, at 5 pages per minute for black-and-white printing, 0.3ppm to 0.8ppm for color. It measures 14 by 15.6 by 19 inches and weighs 16.7 pounds.

Canon's setup is quite easy, literally a 15-minute operation. The well-written manual guides you through the process, and it's particularly easy to set up the station identity for outgoing faxes. Incoming faxes can be set to print upon receipt or be stored in memory-the C2500 can hold 42 pages in memory, with a one-hour battery backup to protect those stored pages. You can make up to 99 copies of a single original without rescanning.

The color output is quite good. The Canon's blacks, however, are more of a dark charcoal gray.

Toshiba starts with a high-quality commercial fax machine-the TF-601, manufactured by Toshiba's Electronic Imaging Division-and adds ImageVision III software. ImageVision gives you the feedback and control normally found only in laser printers using the Windows Printing System, plus control of fax and scanning functions.

Setup is a bit more complicated for the Toshiba unit, and you must load the toner, which can spill. Setting the station identity is more complicated than it ought to be and hindered by a difficult-to-follow manual.

The Toshiba system-even with built-in laser printer-is considerably smaller than the Canon, measuring 9.1 by 15.4 by 16.2 inches, but denser at 19.8 pounds. Print speed is 4ppm, one page slower than the Canon. Laser output is acceptable, although no one would mistake its 300dpi for the output of a 600dpi printer. Still, an important business proposal printed on the TF-601 would be quite acceptable.

The TF-601 shows its origin as a fax machine-the unit is also sold as a standalone fax model without the ImageVision software-by having a telephone handset on the left side. It includes a full-function fax modem, albeit only 9600Kbps. Standard memory holds 20 pages in fax memory, about half the Canon's capacity. However, my test unit came with an optional 2MB memory module, which is a snap to install and increases fax memory to approximately 144 pages.

--Info File--
Canon MultiPASS C2500
Pros: Setup; software; color capability
Cons: Not a laser
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x
Canon Computer Systems
800-848-4123, 714-438-3000
WinMag Box Score 4.5

Toshiba TF-601
Pros: Built-in laser printer
Cons: No color capability
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x
Toshiba America Information Systems
800-GO-TOSHIBA, 714-583-3000
WinMag Box Score 4.0

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