Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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November 2000, Week 3 --- Hard Copy: the All-in-One Machines

MFC 9600
    Still in hot pursuit of the perfect hard copy system, we turn to what the manufacturers like to call "multi-function" machines. They print, they copy, they scan, they fax. And sometimes a little bit more.
   The main argument for multi-function machines is saving desk space. They take up the same "footprint," as a typical printer, yet they perform the functions of four stand-alone peripherals. The additional argument is sometimes made that buying an all-in-one unit saves money, but at $500-$700, the usual range for these machines, it's a toss-up; it would cost about the same to buy the pieces separately.
   The printer is the heart of all such units and we looked at two recent models: a Hewlett Packard unit built around a color inkjet printer, and a Brother based on a black and white laser printer. There's a $200 price difference: $500 for the H-P, $700 for the Brother.
   The first decision is whether you need color or not. A laser printer is black and white, unless you move up to a color laser, which is going to cost $5,000-$6,000. Keeping it cheap means black and white. On the other hand, as we pointed out last week, laser printers cost less than two cents a page to use, while color printing is several times as much.

HP K80

   Next important factor: The Brother Laser MFC 9600 (for "Multi-Function Center") has a flatbed scanner. The Hewlett Packard OfficeJet K80 we ran has a sheet-fed scanner. The difference is this: a sheet-fed scanner can only scan single sheets of paper, or photographs; a flatbed scanner can scan those as well as pages from a book or catalog. Obviously, flatbed is more versatile, but you pay for that. Both machines will work as a copier without being connected to a computer. The scanned page is simply printed by the built-in printer.
   Faxes are received and stored in both machines, whether connected to the computer or not. The H-P will hold an average of 90 pages in memory, the Brother about 700 pages. (The difference is largely explained by the memory space used for color.) The Brother can broadcast faxes automatically to as many as 182 locations. The H-P can't handle nearly that many but does have a much faster modem, which would save line charges.
   Because of the laser printer and flatbed scanner the Brother machine is nearly twice the height and weight of the Hewlett Packard, but they are about the same size at the base. The Brother has one additional feature that's somewhat unusual: it has a standard video-in port that lets you take video from a video, digital still camera or VCR and either send them on to the computer or print or fax them directly.
   The Brother works will all versions of Windows, DOS, and Macintosh. The H-P OfficeJet works only with Windows 95/98 or NT. Hewlett Packard phone information: 888-999-4747; web: Brother phone information: 800-284-4329; web:
-- "CRFG" stands for the California Rare Fruit Growers. They claim to be the largest amateur fruit growers organization in the world. Members are from the U.S. and 30 other countries and include some well known botanical gardens. Here's where you can find seeds and information on such oddities as the Bengal quince, candlenuts, mountain soursop, monkey puzzle trees, bullock's heart, lipstick trees, jackfruit, Natal plums, Chinese jello, ice cream beans, and hundreds of others.
-- Quickly compiles a record of all your online purchases and payments. Useful, but the problem is you can only print the records one at a time. We talked to the site manager about that and he said he could see our objection and would change that.
-- Track a package, buy stamps, find a zip code, compare shipping rates, write the President or Members of Congress, free e-mail, etc. This is a new effort from the folks who did the wonderful ""


--  Set up an account with a $10 deposit and you can send faxes without a fax machine. Just send the fax as an e-mail to this site. Rates depend on destination; 10 cents a minute in the U.S. on weekends, for example.
--  A clever idea and one that should fulfill any secret desires to be a travel writer. Tell the world where you went last summer and read about where you might want to go next. You can get paid in frequent flyer miles and gifts if viewers click on your stories. Good tips on hotels, restaurants, etc.
-- Hundreds of pictures of science fiction art in a site apparently put together as a labor of love by a Polish doctor in New Jersey. Beautiful.
-- This is the location for "Dave's House of Clip Art." Lots of cute drawings. Free.
 Zombie on call
Webagain Protection Utility     Lockstep Systems has a thousand dollar Windows program that watches your web site to make sure no one makes unauthorized changes. It restores defaced sites to their original form and can return a site to its appearance at any point in time. They call it "Zombie Server protection."
"WebAgain, 2.0," with Zombie Server, is $995, available only from the manufacturer. A free 30-day trial version is available at the web site: Phone information: 480-596-9432.
NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at or