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Technology Untangled: Multifunction copier lacks key functions

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Usually if I am writing an article about a piece of technology, it is because I like it. Most of my reviews concentrate on the positive aspects of a device, but today we will look at a multifunction copier from Canon that disappointed me. I hope some of the things I learned will help you when shopping for your next small office copier.

The Canon ImageCLASS D1120 black and white laser multifunction copier boasts a long list of features and a reasonable price, but overall its performance did not impress me. On sale for only $400, I thought this Canon was worth a look.

It seems like a relatively robust unit for this price. The rated duty cycle is 20,000 pages a month, a good rating for small office use. This copier is a good notch above a “personal copier” in quality, at a price that is similar to many light-duty copiers. The quality of the D1120 seems fine, but its many operational quirks turned me off to it.

Like many digital copiers, at its heart this machine is essentially a digital scanner married to a laser printer. What first attracted me to it was the automatic two-sided document copying, printing and scanning. The next intriguing feature was the advertised network capability, but that turned out to be rather limited. Yes, the unit can function as a network printer, but not wirelessly.

One big disappointment was learning that the scanning functions specifically would not operate over the network. The scanner works only in conjunction with the one computer that it is tethered to via USB. The scanner will scan both black and white and color documents, but that feature is limited without an automatic detection capability for color pages. You have to tell the scanner in advance whether you want to scan in all color or all black and white. Auto color detection is an important feature for recognizing highlighted or colored pen markings on discovery documents, for example. Yes, you can scan everything in color, but that leads to unwieldy file sizes compared to black and white scans.

The two-sided scanning feature has a quirk, also. It cannot be set to auto-detect for two-sided originals. You can only choose all one-sided, or all two-sided. Scanning always in two-sided mode can lead to many blank pages in your electronic document set. Good scanning software should have the ability to remove blank pages automatically, but the Canon software does not. When scanning for copying, defaulting to two-sided mode doesn’t matter as much, although it does put excessive wear and tear on the paper transport mechanism by feeding and “printing” a lot of blank backsides of pages.

I was also dismayed to learn that the D1120 has no copy counter of any kind, not for individual projects, nor for a lifetime total. To me that is an important feature of an office copier, especially one advertising on its box as “Heavy Duty”. An hour on the phone with Canon tech support revealed that this feature was only available on Canons’ next higher, more expensive line of ImageRUNNER copiers. Even the most inexpensive laser printer has the ability to tell you how many total pages have printed through it. Curiously, the D1120 does have the capability to set up to 99 individual user codes so limits can be imposed on the number of copies each user can run. So it is clear that the unit does know how to count. It is my opinion that Canon purposely omitted the counter feature so people would not hold them to task on over-specifying the number of copies you can get between toner replacements. So far it seems that the cartridges only last one-half to two-thirds of their rated life.

Another miss: this multifunction device cannot scan and copy simultaneously. If you need both hard copies and electronic copies, you must run your stack of papers through the document feeder twice! That is just dumb, because there is no technical reason that the scanned image data couldn’t be sent to both the copier for printing and out the USB port for saving to computer. Since virtually all of the copies made in our office are also saved electronically, this feature deficiency makes the Canon D1120 hopelessly inefficient.

What finally and completely knocked the Canon ImageCLASS D1120 out of contention as a useful office tool for me was the excessive non-printable area of the page margins. Many, many of the pages I tried to copy had the edges of the images cut off around the margins, with almost a quarter inch of unprintable area. The aggravating thing about this was that the scanned images looked just fine on the computer. This means that the scanner captures more area of the page image than the printer/copier is capable of reproducing. The only “fix” is to reduce all copies to 97 percent.

If you are currently shopping for a copier, my advice is to take a pass on the Canon ImageCLASS D1120.•
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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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