Panasonic has just launched two new devices into the fiercely competitive multifunction market: the $149.99 KX-MB271 and the $199.99 KX-MB781. Both are based around a laser printing engine with a claimed speed of up to 18 pages per minute.
The $149.99 KX-MB271 can scan, copy and print. The printer is built around a monochrome laser printer engine that can print at a resolution of up to 600 by 600 dpi, with a claimed warm-up time of 15 seconds. That's pretty fast, but we haven't tested the validity of this claim. The scanner can scan at up to 600 by 1200 dots per inch (or 600 by 300 if the auto sheet feeder is used) and can accommodate and automatically crop scans to the size of the scanned document. The built-in document feeder can handle up to 20 sheets of paper, and the KX-MB271 comes with the Read-Iris Pro OCR software that can convert scanned documents into text. There is a single paper tray that can hold up to 250 sheets of paper. The KX-MB271 can be connected to a PC via a USB port, but there is no support for sharing the printer over a network.
The $199.99 KXMB781has the same features as the cheaper KXMB271, but adds support for sending and receiving faxes, plus support for wired Ethernet networks. This means it can act as a fax workstation for a small business: users can send faxes straight from the desktop over the network. Scanned documents and received faxes can also be sent over the network to a comaptiable PC.
For both printers, drivers are supplied for Windows versions from Windows 98 to Vista, but there is no included support for Apple Macs.