A networked printer is easier to share. Anyone with more than one PC or two employees in an office will tell you as much.
Its also easier to afford, print industry executives and analysts tell eWEEK.
Sharing printers and multi-function printers (MFPs) allows businesses to buy larger, faster and more cost-effective equipment, and provide color more affordably.
"Employees in accounting or HR often need personal devices because of the work they do, but elsewhere within small companies (5 to 100 employees)—in busier or bigger workgroups, anywhere theres high paper volume, where you are printing constantly—networked printers make sense," said Silvio Cavacetti, director of worldwide small and midsize business marketing at Lexmark.
"If you have two or three or more devices, or have to change your supply items every few months on multiple devices, you should think about consolidating to larger, shared devices, for higher yield and lower costs," he said, "and that means networked printers or multi-function devices."
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Having fewer, shared printers, thanks to networking, also helps cut down on the costs and effort associated with purchasing and servicing, said Raven A. Matthews, technical operations coordinator at Members Only Software, a Washington, D.C.-based industry group and non-profit software developer.
"Having to purchase and maintain fewer, shared printers, instead of a dozen or more personal ones, saves me a lot of time on maintenance and support, as well as consumables cost," Matthews said. "We couldnt do this if they werent networked."
Just about all new workgroup-class printers and MFPs—and a growing number of SOHO-class devices—include built-in networking (an Ethernet NIC and jack).
For companies looking to connect older and other not-network-ready printers, Lexmark, other printer vendors, and third parties such as Belkin, DLink and NetGear offer wired and wireless printer servers typically costing between $50 and $150.
"A lot of businesses in the United States are already have wired networks available," Cavacetti said. "But many new and small business, and many homes, arent wired, or arent wired where they want to put the printer, so wireless—802.11 WiFi—networked printers becomes very attractive."
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