Here is another example of, “I Should Have Done This Sooner.”  This is one of the most important and indispensable products for your hi-tech home or small office – ever!  It’s the Canon imageCLASS D680 personal digital copier, printer and fax, about $600 – $700.  Before you stop right here wondering why you should read about something in this price range, please indulge me and read on.  This will save money in many ways.

Here at Gadget Central, we have had a personal copier for more than 25 years.  It is so convenient to just make a copy of whatever, whenever.  Those early machines were huge, very expensive, consumed smelly liquids and did not provide great copies, but they were convenient.  When we started adding to our family, and the kids started school, the usefulness of a copier became even more apparent.  Then, about 12 years ago, we purchased a more modern unit.  It was great for home offices and small offices, and it cost, as I can recall, over $1,000.  There was that messy toner bottle of powdery black dust to add to the bin.  There was that drum that needed attention periodically, and at the cost of a service visit that never was less than about $200.  That old copier really cranked out the copies, year after year, and I feel we got our moneys worth.  However, in recent months, and for the second time it started to deliver ever-widening black streaks from top to bottom on the page.  It was time for a major service that was estimated, along with the repair, to be about $450.  Time to shop for a new machine!

We also have had a fax machine, starting way back when they cost about $1200 and it printed on a roll of tear-off thermal paper.  We upgraded a couple of times, and, more recently, I received most faxes into my Mac.  I printed what I wanted and used the fax machine mostly for outgoing faxes that did not originate from within the computer.  I thought I was being smart when I purchased an inexpensive plain paper fax machine that used a black film roll – 164 feet yielding approximately 160 pages.  And, it doubled as a copier!  Sure it was not as convenient as a “real” copier, but it sure came in handy when the real one left those streaks.  And then, reality hit me.  That inexpensive fax machine, if used regularly, was costing a fortune to operate.  Those film rolls, in a double pack, cost about $25 – $30.  Put a pencil to it, Einstein, I thought to myself – That’s about $30 for only 300 pages.  Am I nuts?  So the search began.

I vetoed any inkjet products because of the cost of operation.  Besides, we have color printers here.  I wanted plain, black laser so we could just crank out copies for work or family without care. Cost of operation is less with laser.  I wanted as little maintenance as possible, too.  No more service calls, if at all possible.  I also wanted to explore the option of combining laser fax and copying.  In this area, there are several options.

I investigated other features, too.  Most desirable was the idea of an automatic document feeder.   Now, the field started to narrow.  It is not so unusual to need to copy or fax a multi-page document, and an ADF would be so nice, so convenient for all concerned.  I vetoed the idea of needing additional functionality as a scanner.  We have scanners, do not need another one, and this machine was not going to be conveniently located for use as a scanner.

I looked to the leader in the field of personal copiers – Canon – and discovered exactly what I wanted, the D680.  This model fit exactly the designated, previously occupied pull-out space in our cabinet (though I expect most other users will place such a product on a counter).  Actually, there is room to spare.

The list of features is impressive and unmatched in my investigation.

Start with a single cartridge system – the toner, drum and development unit are all in one unit that is easily replaceable.  It comes with a full, large capacity, L50 cartridge, rated at about 5,000 copies.  Maintenance cost just went to $0 and the per-copy price dropped to about $.03 per page!  No mess, no fuss, no hassle.  I like this.

The D680 cranks out copies at a respectable 13-pages per minute for letter size.  Because this is a “digital” copier, collating multi-page documents is eased.  The entire document gets scanned in and then printed.  The D680 features a 200-page memory.

But this Canon D680 is also a PC printer.  Printing resolution is 600 x 600 dpi through either the built-in Hi-Speed USB or Parallel ports.  The included 500-sheet front-loading paper cassette and 100-sheet multi-purpose tray on the right side offers maximum convenience and flexibility.  The MP tray can accept transparencies, heavier media and envelopes.

The 30-page ADF has proven to be a worthwhile investment.  I needed to fax a 50-page document recently to multiple parties.  The old way, I would have dreaded it. This time, I enjoyed the experience.  I fed in all the papers, 30 at a time, programmed in all the numbers, and watched the magic.  The fast G3 fax made quick work of the transmission.  G3 faxing is the newer, faster way to fax, using a speed of 33.6 Kbps versus the standard fax speed of 14.4 Kbps.  All fax machines default to the fastest speed that is in common on both sides of the transmission.

Like many better copiers today, the D680 can zoom between 50% and 200% in 1% increments or preset zoom ratios of 50%, 645, 78%, 129% and 200% for reduced or enlarged copies.  Copy resolution (different from printer resolution) is 1200 x 600 dpi.

It was so easy to set up.  Once plugged in, it just works.  There is not even an On/Off switch.  The D680 goes into its own power-saving standby mode after a minute or so of idle time.  Then, it fires up for near-instant service when needed.  No waiting!

Other bells and whistles include 12 speed dial settings and a 100-number coded speed dial memory, delayed transmission, subaddress sending, polling reception, activity report printing, and so on.  Really, this machine has it all.

The LCD information display is easy to see and easy to use for a wide variety of functions, from setting the number of copies to displaying messages and alerts, as well as getting into all the basic settings.

So, put a pencil to it for yourself.  How much is a top-quality, convenient to use laser fax machine with a 30-page ADF?  How much is a good quality laser printer?  How much is a digital copier with all the USEFUL features of the D680?  What is it worth to you to have just one product do it all and do it all very well, with little to no maintenance and an all-in-one consumable cartridge you can change in about 30 seconds?  What is it worth to you to have a simple to operate device such as this that you and your family and/or co-workers can use without a care for many, many years to come?

Now, as I did, you can see that the versatile multi-talented space-saving Canon D680 is rich with value and that it will actually save the user money over its many, many years of expected trouble-free service.  Now, you can see why I say I should have done this sooner!  It really has become one of the best investments I could have made for myself and for my family.

The same machine WITHOUT the fax is the imageCLASS D660.  It is only about $50 – $75 less than the D680, so it pays to get the D680 for most users.

Canon provides a three-year warranty (limited parts and labor) with free on-site service for the first year.

Specifications for the D680 are HERE.  All Canon personal copiers are HERE.  For more product information or to find the nearest retailer call 1-800-OK-CANON (1-800-652-2666).  For best pricing, I suggest buy.com, nextag.com and pricegrabber.com.  Weighing in at 50 pounds, it may be more economical to purchase locally, though.

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