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This story appears in the December 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Wish you could wave a wand and banish all those machines cluttering your desk? More than a dozen manufacturers have done that for you by combining a printer, copier, scanner and fax machine in one unit. Called multifunctional devices (MFDs), these machines perform all the primary office functions except answering your phone (although Ricoh's MV106 even has an answering machine port). They can be networked, print and copy in color or black-and-white, send faxes at a programmed time, and scan documents for editing and faxing directly from your computer.

Research firm CAP Ventures estimates that by 2000, one in five office machines purchased will be an all-in-one product. The market for MFDs is so hot, new models equipped with technological advances are appearing every month, it seems, with higher-quality imaging, more font choices, larger paper trays, faster speeds and increased memory capacity. At press time, one of the fastest machines was Toshiba's DP2460+SC-1 Controller, a digital laser MFD that faxes, prints and copies 24 pages per minute, compared to about six pages per minute by its competitors. Brother's color 7000FC allows you to capture video frames for direct copying, faxing or filing from a digital camera, VCR, television or camcorder.

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