PC Advisor reviews the best multifunctional printers, and the sharpest direct photo printers.

The end of the summer holidays always seems to provoke a rush to buy new kit, whether it's because students are moving away and need items that home or school previously provided, or because they want to start the academic year with new tools.

Increasingly, these tools are of the electronic variety, rather than the notebooks and pens of old. Affordability and efficient use of space are top priorities although portability isn't to be prized at any cost.

If you've got a roomful of high-tech gadgets including a computer, games console, DVD player and iPod, you probably don't want to increase the clutter too much by adding a bulky printer and scanner to the mix.

That's why combined units that do both - and often include photocopying and faxing capabilities too - are such a neat idea for students and other space-conscious buyers.

Of course, these very same attributes make all-in-ones (also known as multifunction printers or MFPs) compelling for home use and small businesses too.

An all-in-one inkjet printer, photocopier and scanner saves space and is certainly more cost-effective than separate devices. Accordingly, we've focused our tests on the MFPs that are good at printing photos.

However, if you're in the market for a printer that specialises in handling photos and don't intend to print anything else, a dedicated photo printer may be a better all-round bet. The ones we've looked at for this group test are dedicated models that don't even need to be hooked up to a PC.

Their ease of use means you can have the best of your holiday photos pinned to a noticeboard or displayed in frames with minimum fuss, thus saving them from the ulitmate iniquity - languishing on your hard drive for ever more, never again to see the light of day.

NEXT PAGE: what do you need?

Quick links:

  1. Photo printers reviewed
  2. What do you need?
  3. Making connections
  4. How we test
  5. Direct photo printer reviews
  6. Multifunction printer reviews

Visit PC Advisor's dedicating Printing Zone for the latest printer reviews, plus news, blogs and forums, and our unique printer price comparison service

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter