Samsung has unveiled the world's first ever Android-powered printers, the Smart MultiXpress MFP series. Launched at IFA 2014 in Berlin, the ten business multifunction printers signal Samsung’s intent to drive innovation in the printer market. Samsung achieved the seemingly impossible when it broke Apple's stranglehold on the smartphone market with its Android handsets. The Korean company has made no secret of its desire to be number one in the printer market and, once again, Android OS could be the key.
Smart MultiXpress MFPs feature a 10.1in touch screen, with a number of preloaded apps, including Copy, Scan/Send, Job Status, Counter and Settings, allowing quick and easy access to device functions. The touch screen uses Samsung SMART UX Center, which is also used in Galaxy mobile devices, giving you the same feel and functionality you'd find in a Samsung tablet. It also includes haptic feedback – the first time this technology has been used in a printer.
Navigation will, therefore, be second nature to Android users, while those unfamiliar with Android will find it surprisingly easy to use. The tablet-like screen connects to the web for direct printing of online content without a PC and enables you to preview, edit and annotate documents at the printer.
Although it's not a fully-fledged tablet, the smart touch screen is powered by dual-core 1GHz processor, which is up to 1.5 times faster than the single-core processor used in previous models. This means that multiple users can print and scan large documents without a dip in performance.
Given that it's already possible to print wirelessly from an Android device, what's the advantage of an Android-powered printer? Security, for one. However secure your IT network, wireless printing introduces an element of risk that some businesses are simply not prepared to tolerate. This is especially true where employees are using their own mobile devices at work.
Running Android on the printer allows you to access all its features without the need for a separate mobile device. However, it is still possible to print from a smartphone or tablet, using the NFC Pro accessory, which is sold separately. The NFC Pro add-on allows for easy mobile printing, whilst maintaining the integrity of your network.
An enhanced user authentication process, and improved IT admin functions ensure that security is not compromised. For example, you can easily clone the security settings from one MFP to multiple devices simply by tapping the NFC Pro accessory.
One of the main strengths of the Android OS is that it can be easily customised. The Smart MultiXpress MFPs include a customisable 'My Page' setting, which allows users to keep track of individual usage, control accessibility, and so on.
Android OS also provides scalability, which means that performance levels are maintained as the demands of the business change and grow. Smart MultiXpress printers are compatible with Samsung's XOA (eXtensible Open Architecture) print platform, so that applications and processes can be customised to meet business needs.
'As Samsung continues to strive for user-centered innovation, the introduction of the first Android OS-equipped MFPs will enhance Samsung’s smart office experience for business customers and allow for greater multidimensional and advanced printing technologies,' said Dr. KiHo Kim, Executive Vice President of Printing Solutions at Samsung Electronics.
In all, there are ten new Smart MultiXpress MFPs, split across four series, all of which feature a Dual-Scan ADF, 320GB hard drive and, of course, a 10.1in smart touch screen. PostScript 3 and PCL 5/6 print languages are also standard across the range.
Starting with the entry level device, we have the K4300LX, a 30 page per minute A4 mono MFP. The K4300LX has a recommended monthly print volume of 6000 pages and a 1,040-sheet input capacity, which can be expanded to 2,180 sheets.
Next is the M4580 mono MFP series, with a built-in fax, up to 45ppm print speed and a first page out time of 6.5 seconds. Topping the A4 mono range is the M5370 series, with print speeds of up to 53ppm, maximum paper capacity of 3,240 sheets and a recommended monthly print volume of 15,000 pages.
Finally, there's the X4300 & X4200 A3 colour MFP series with print speeds of up to 30ppm. The X4300 features Samsung's ReCP (Samsung's Rendering Engine for Clean Page) technology and polymerised toner for outstanding image quality.
The Smart MultiXpress MFPs use longer lasting toners and drums than those found in comparable models, for greater reliability and a lower total cost of ownership – important factors when you’re running high-volume, business-critical machines.
Samsung led the way with Android-powered smartphones and tablets, dominating the Android market and establishing itself as a serious rival to Apple. Can it do the same with Android-powered printers?
by Anthony Morgan
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