Multifunction Peripherals Arrive for Mac

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Multifunction peripherals (MFPs), a growing presence in the PC market, are about to arrive for the Mac. Canon (800/652-2666, ), the second-leading vendor of MFPs, after Hewlett-Packard, has announced the MultiPass C635, the first Mac-based MFP. Others are likely to follow.

MFPs combine a scanner and printer in a single low-cost unit that also works as a digital copier and plain-paper fax machine. The MultiPass C635, with an estimated street price of $379, features a 720-by-360-dpi color ink-jet printer based on Canon's BJC-4400, as well as a 24-bit color sheetfed scanner that offers 300-dpi optical resolution (600 dpi with software enhancement).

Developed specifically for the Mac, the MultiPass C635 features a USB interface and is bundled with Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0, for image editing, and ScanSoft's TextBridge Professional, for text recognition. You can use it as a stand-alone fax machine or copier when it's not connected to a computer. The copier can produce one black-and-white page in 45 seconds and additional copies at up to three pages per minute. It produces color copies at up to three minutes per page.

SOHO Revival

MFPs typically target SOHO users who want a cost-effective means of scanning and printing but don't need the higher quality that stand-alone imaging devices generally offer. Apple's recent resurgence has boosted the Mac's profile among these users, making Macintosh-based MFPs a more viable business proposition. Canon says Apple has been encouraging manufacturers to offer MFPs for the Mac, so it's probable that other companies will follow suit. One likely player is HP, which has closely allied itself with Apple and currently has the largest share of the MFP market.

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