Holiday gift ideas: Do-it-all printers

If you’ve been to a computer or electronics store recently—or even visited stores’ Web sites—you know that there are more products to choose from than ever. Selecting just the right item seems impossible, whether you’re shopping for a family member, for a friend, or even for yourself. Eventually you have to narrow down your choices, keeping budget, product quality, and appropriateness in mind.

PC World can help. We’ve pinpointed some of the best and most popular products for this holiday season at all price ranges in a number of categories. In this excerpt, we’ll focus on multifunction printers, but you can find recommendations for cameras, camcorders, audio and video players, cell phones, HDTVs, and other gear at PCWorld.com.

Canon’s $200 Pixma MP600 Photo All-in-One Printer is an able multitasker right out of the box, offering photo-lab-quality color printing (at up to 9,600-by-2,400 dpi), text printing, color copying, and scanning.

While Canon rightly focuses the Pixma MP600 on its photo-printing expertise, don’t overlook some of its other capabilities, such as two-sided printing, wireless printing from a PC or cell phone with an optional USB Bluetooth adapter, a 12-in-1 memory card reader for direct photo printing without a PC, and a smart-copy technology that automatically optimizes copy reproduction based on the type of original—text, photo, or combination.

The Pixma features a 2.5-inch color LCD for previewing photos and an Easy-Scroll Wheel for navigating through the printer's functions. Like the wheel on an iPod, Canon’s control wheel lets you dial to the exact function you want without having to fiddle with multiple buttons. A dedicated button displays an on-screen guide for how-to advice on common functions. A Home button returns users directly to the main menu.

Another printer that can handle multitasking is Dymo’s $162 LabelWriter Twin Turbo, which has two print heads in one unit. Dedicated to label printing, the Twin Turbo has two spools, so you don’t need to switch rolls to print different-size labels.

Whether for small-business or home use, the Twin Turbo’s got-to-have-it feature is Dymo Stamps: For no monthly fee, you can automatically print out U.S. postage on one label while simultaneously printing an address on another label. All online stamp services charge a monthly fee ranging from $14 to $20 (in addition to the postage costs), so Dymo’s deal makes the printer pay for itself over time.

Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from PC World. For more holiday gear recommendations, click here.

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