In addition, many modern printers can straight interface to electronic media such as memory sticks or memory cards, or to image capture devices such as digital cameras, scanners; some printers are combined with a scanners and/or fax machines in a single unit. Printers that contain non-printing features are sometimes called Multi-Function Printers (MFP) or Multi-Function Devices (MFD).
A printer which is shared with a scanner can function as a photocopier if so designed. Most MFPs include printing, scanning, and copying among their features.
Printers are planned for low-volume, short-turnaround print jobs; requiring virtually no setup time to achieve a hard copy of a given document. However, printers are usually slow devices (30 pages per minute is considered fast; and many consumer printers are far slower than that), and the cost-per-page is relatively high.
In contrast, the printing press (which serves much the same function), is planned and optimized for high-volume print jobs such as newspaper print runs--printing presses are capable of hundreds of pages per minute or more, and have an incremental cost-per-page which is a fraction of that of printers.
The printing press remains the machine of option for high-volume, professional publishing. However, as printers have improved in excellence and performance, many jobs which used to be done by professional print shops are now done by users on local printers; see desktop publishing.
The world's first computer printer was a 19th century mechanically driven tools invented by Charles Babbage for his Difference Engine.
In 2007, a study exposed that toner-based printers produced pollution as harmful as that from cigarettes.