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Not just any old printer will do for a holiday gift. This shopping season, look for a model that offers something extra useful--or better still, extra fun. Unless you know that your gift recipient wants a plain-vanilla monochrome laser, inkjets--especially multifunction models--offer the most interesting choices.
What to Look For
Touchscreens: Out with buttons, in with color LCDs that have on-screen controls, as well as panels offering context-sensitive, backlit "buttons" that light up only when needed. Recent products with this feature include the Epson Artisan 835 and the Canon Pixma MG8120.
Web access: HP and Lexmark both offer models with Web connectivity, stretching the boundaries of what a printer can do. HP's e-printers provide canned apps for printing specific content from HP's prefabricated corner of the cloud, including coupons, movie tickets, news briefs, and activity pages. The HP Photosmart e-All-in-One is a recent example of the company's Web-friendly printers. Lexmark's programmable SmartSolutions--available in the Lexmark Platinum Pro905 and other models--give users the ability to view RSS news feeds on the printer's LCD, to see Facebook and Twitter updates, or to upload content to cloud-based apps such as Evernote.
In Video: Lexmark's Platinum Pro905 Printer is Suitable for a Small Office
More features than you'd expect: The Canon Pixma iP4820 might look like any other home-oriented color inkjet printer, but it has two input trays and automatic duplexing, plus reasonable ink costs. For more on such models, see "Inkjet Printers: Versatility, Quality" on the next page.
Integrated digital frames: Does your gift recipient have photos that they love? The Epson PictureMate Show snapshot printer can print those images--or show them on a huge 7-inch LCD. For more, see "Snapshot Printers: Easy Photo Printing" on the third page.
In Video: Epson Combines a Photo Printer With a Digital Frame