PC-Hardware

What are 3-in-1 printers and 4-in-1 printers?

Digitalization is increasingly making its way into our working and private lives. Important documents can now be sent conveniently by e-mail or other “Internet channels”. Nevertheless, from time to time we cannot avoid the classic printout of a document. This is especially true if you have to sign important contracts by hand. But even the printout of favorite photos is still a boom for many people today. The purchase of a printer is then indispensable. If you want to kill several birds with one stone, you can buy a multifunction printer. However, confusion can quickly arise here. This already starts with the type of integrated printer. Should one opt for an inkjet, laser or color laser printer? Once you have answered this question, you are still faced with the decision of whether it should be a 3-in-1 or a 4-in-1 printer. What it is and what you should consider in the search, we would like to show you in the following.

Multifunction devices are market leaders

Anyone looking for a new printer will have difficulty finding a device that really only prints. The reason for this is the triumphant advance that multifunction printers have made in recent years. There is a decisive reason why these combination solutions are so successful and popular. They not only save a lot of space, but also money. This makes the multifunction devices ideal for the home office. In the open-plan office, on the other hand, the “egg-laying lactating sows” are seldom encountered. After all, they are not designed for mass use. It simply takes too long to copy or scan large quantities of documents with them. If you opt for an ink-based device, the follow-up costs are also too high for high-volume printers. As a result, multifunction devices are the perfect solution for regular or corona-conditioned home offices or small businesses.

3-in-1 printer or 4-in-1 printer?

Once you’ve decided to buy a combination device, the next decision is already upon you. After all, not all multifunction devices are the same. Here, a rough distinction is made between 3-in-1 printers and 4-in-1 printers. The numbers describe the number of functions that are on board the device. While the 3-in-1 solutions can scan, copy and of course print, the 4-in-1 devices shine with another practical function. Here, the manufacturers integrate a fax. These functions turn a simple printer into a real multi-talent. After all, documents can no longer just be printed out.

For example, if you receive an important contract by e-mail, you can conveniently skip the postal service. Instead, you first print out the contract. Then you sign the document. Now you can make a copy for your records. You can then scan the document, sign it and send it back to the sender. With a 3-in-1 device, you only have the option of sending it back by e-mail. With a 4-in-1, on the other hand, you can send it by fax. But it doesn’t have to be just about formal applications. Furthermore, the devices can also be used to scan photos and archive them on the PC.

Nowadays, 3-in-1 printers are enough

The decision for 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 can be difficult for some. However, a 3-in-1 solution should be sufficient for the vast majority of people these days. Why? Simple. These days, a fax machine doesn’t have the importance it had just a few years ago. In the meantime, e-mails have become legally binding. Accordingly, only those should insist on a fax function who really need one in the end. But the question of whether 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 is often taken away from the manufacturer beforehand. An integrated fax function is now part of the standard equipment of many multifunction devices.

Performance of the printer is the focus

Regardless of whether the device offers a fax function or not, all multifunction devices still focus on one function: printing. So before you decide on a 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 device, you should think about what type of printer suits you. You can choose between the classic printer types: Inkjet printer, laser printer and color laser printer.

Inkjet printers

Multifunction devices based on ink convince mainly by one thing: their price. Indeed, compared to the other types of printers, they usually offer the lowest acquisition costs. In addition, the devices score with their quality when printing colorful images. So if you print photos from time to time and don’t just use your printer to print text documents, you should go for an inkjet printer. However, the devices also offer a decisive disadvantage: the printing costs per page. Users usually have to pay more for this than for other types of printers. Especially frequent printers should be aware of this. So when buying, don’t just keep an eye on the purchase price, but also consider the follow-up costs. Another disadvantage of inkjet printers is the vulnerability of the nozzles. If you don’t use the device for a while, this can sometimes lead to problems with the print result or even a defect in the device. The reason for this is dried ink residue that builds up in the nozzles. Accordingly, the device should be used regularly. Modern devices also rely on regular maintenance of their own nozzles. However, this is possible only when the device is in standby mode.

Laser and color laser printers

Laser and color laser printers rely on a completely different system. Here one does without the use of conventional ink. Instead, high-yield toner is used here. For people who print a lot, this results in a much lower printing price per page. However, you usually have to live with higher purchase prices for the device itself. Thus, the laser or color laser printer is only worthwhile for those who print a lot and with pleasure. Another advantage of laser technology is that the toner, unlike ink, can not dry up. Thus, at least theoretically, a device can remain unused for months without suffering any damage.

Last but not least, these devices usually score with their superior speed. Inkjet printers cannot keep up here. A major disadvantage, however, is the lack of color brilliance of laser printers. Color laser printers generally cannot print the vivid colors that are possible with inkjet printers. However, this should not bother most people with multifunction devices, which are only used in the office anyway. After all, the focus here is on text documents or graphics in black and white.

WLAN should be on board

Regardless of whether you are interested in a 3-in-1 printer or a 4-in-1 printer, the device should be able to offer one thing in any case: WLAN. The wireless network connection offers a lot of practical functions that you can’t do without in modern working life. Thanks to a WLAN connection, you can access your printer from any Wi-Fi enabled device. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a PC, notebook or smartphone – you can start print jobs or call up other functions on your device from any device. For example, scanned documents can also be conveniently sent from the multifunction device to your smartphone.

Conclusion: user behavior is the focus

Whether you choose a 3-in-1 device or a 4-in-1 device should be determined by your own needs. If you have really never sent a fax and do not plan to do so in the future, a 3-in-1 device is quite sufficient. However, it is very annoying if you buy a multifunction device and find out some time later that an important function is missing. Since the prices between 3-in-1 printers and 4-in-1 printers are now almost identical, it’s better to go for the 4-in-1 printer. After all, it is better if the device offers too many functions than too few. Away from the number of functions offered, however, you should also keep in mind the general tips for buying a printer. You can read them again here in the tutorial.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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Digitalization is increasingly making its way into our working and private lives. Important documents can now be sent conveniently by e-mail or other „Internet channels“. Nevertheless, from time to time we cannot avoid the classic printout of a document. This is especially true if you have to sign important contracts by hand. But even the printout of favorite photos is still a boom for many people today. The purchase of a printer is then indispensable. If you want to kill several birds with one stone, you can buy a multifunction printer. However, confusion can quickly arise here. This already starts with the type of integrated printer. Should one opt for an inkjet, laser or color laser printer? Once you have answered this question, you are still faced with the decision of whether it should be a 3-in-1 or a 4-in-1 printer. What it is and what you should consider in the search, we...

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