Even before any choice is made, an initial market survey of the wide range of printers can cause confusion. There are several printers available with new features and advanced capabilities. But analysing these features and considering your office requirement requires a more concerted approach.
Before buying print equipment, one must have to determine the print needs of the business. To know this, here are some questions for the self analysis.
Most printers are optimized to work on a certain number of pages per month, and are manufactured to comfortably meet that target. A small office that has limited print needs (and occasional scanning or faxing needs) can get away with a small multifunctional printer or inkjet printer. These single function printers are inexpensive and can provide sufficient quality, but cannot handle a heavy print load.
For an office producing a high volume of printed materials on a daily basis, consider an office printer which is typically a durable laser printer than the cheaper multifunctional printer.
While these printers cost more up front, the toner cartridges they use last longer than the expensive printer cartridges that the cheaper inkjet printers use. If you have little or no use for color, you can buy the monochrome laser office printer that can print around 1,000 pages with one cartridge. Similarly features like duplex printing may be more relevant for large printing loads as they save paper.
Black and white laser printers are very economical, but color printers usually aren't. If you are looking at small volume color printing, an inkjet printer might be your best bet. Should one have significant color printing needs, you should consider having a dedicated color printer. This will allow for printing higher quality and quantity color print-outs.
For certain businesses, printing in large sizes (A3 or higher) or special sizes (legal sizes) is an important business requirement. These include interior design firms, architecture firms and legal firms. So it is important to consider the sizes a printer can comfortably handle.
It would be wrong to make a selection only on the basis of upfront printer price alone. Printer manufacturers usually price the printer cheap but make the cartridges really expensive. So the total cost of ownership over a three-year cycle covering printer running cost also needs to be considered. Most printer models specify average printing volume/quantity that can be printed in a cartridge. So you can easily calculate your annual printing costs for a printer.
Laser vs Inkjet
Laser printers are best for printing large volumes of high-quality black and white text or color graphics. They are a must have for offices and allow multiple users to share the same printer over a network.
With print speeds up to 50-55 pages per minute in black and white and up to 20-25 pages per minute in color, laser printers get the job done fast. The laser printer also includes high quantity input trays mean you have to refill paper less often. Of late, laser printers also come with options where prints can be sent remotely to the machine from outside the office.
Inkjet printers are more useful for small and home offices that print less than 500 sheets per week. Capable of printing in black & white and color, they are an affordable way to print documents, images, web pages and more.
Printing speeds vary by model, but some print up to 25 pages per minute in black & white and up to 20 pages per minute in color. Also the printing quality of inkjet printers is generally better than the laser printers.
Single Function vs All-in-one
Single-function printers are designed to do one thing: print!
They are available as inkjets and lasers and can also come with other features like two-sided printing, USB ports, memory card slots and multipurpose paper trays.
All-in-one printers offer the convenience of multiple machines without the hassle. You get a printer, scanner, copier and often a fax - all in one easy machine. All-in-ones are available as inkjets and lasers and in color and black and white. Other convenient features include memory card slots and wireless printing. Their big advantage is convenience and space (you do not need separate spaces for copiers, fax machines and printers).
The good thing is that most multi-function printers now offer print quality comparable to standalone printers especially in regular printing of office documents. However, bear in mind that the scanning quality of multi-function machines is still not comparable to those of standalone machines. So if high quality or high volume scanning is an important part of your business, you will be better served in choosing a standalone scanner.
Take Away Note
This step wise guide to hunt for a printer is going to be very useful for the small business owners or admin heads of SMB organizations in order to become a smart buyer for office printer. After this analysis it can said that there are three categories of printer’s features – ‘must to have’, ‘good to have’ and ‘irrelevant’.
For example, having the capability to print over a network may be a must-have feature for your office. Similarly, auto-duplex printing may be a preferred feature but may not be mandatory.
Small businesses can benefit from printer models like a multifunction or all-in-one printer. These space-saving devices come in both laser and inkjet models that also include a fax machine, copier, and scanner along with printing to round out the versatility.
Depending on the some extra and advanced features like auto-document feeder (ADF), auto-duplexing, wireless, etc. the product can get pricey, but many of the lower-end Inkjet printer models are available in the market at around INR2,000 and the laser printer starts at around INR5,500 up for basic copy, scan, and print functions.
Some brands that are available in the Indian market include Samsung, Brother, Lexmark, Canon, HP and Epson.