What printer to buy is not likely to be the most pressing concern at any business with 100 or fewer employees, but perhaps it should be.
Choosing a printer can have a far reaching impact on a business bottom line, printer industry executives and analysts told eWEEK.
One has to consider work flow, productivity, support and most importantly cost-per-page, said Marlene Orr, senior printer analyst for Buyers Laboratory.
"Start by assessing printing needs," Orr said. "How much are you printing? Do you need color? Dont just look at just the up-front cost—cost-per-page can affect your bottom line. A lot of the sub-$500 laser printers and consumer-oriented inkjets have really high cost-per-page that adds up over time."
When you move into higher-end workgroup printers, starting at $1,000, you can get the color price down from 20 cents and up with consumer-oriented inkjets to around 10 cents, and monochrome down from 3 to 4 cents to 1 to 2 cents per page, Orr said. Consolidating to fewer, larger devices also means more paper and memory capacity, and possibly better print quality, according to Orr.
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"For example, if youre in an office with many people using devices, [for example,] five inkjets and five personal lasers but no central device, you have a big opportunity to save money," said Silvio Cavacetti, director of WorldWide SMB Marketing at Lexmark.
Inkjet printers suitable for personal, SOHO (small office/home office) and occasional printing start at under $50, and all-in-one print/copy/scan devices below, and inkjets for heavier use and multiple users, are still under $250, Cavacetti said. Laser printers can start below $100. Workgroup-class machines, says Cavacetti, include networking capabilities, higher paper capacities, and the ability to expand by adding more drawers, trays, and other features and options.
Since a good printer can last many years, pay attention to long-term software support, advises Beth Cohen, director of operations at Broadleaf Services.
"Some vendors dont maintain or support drivers for older printers, and keep them readily available." Cohen said. "Suppose you bought a printer when Windows 2000 was popular, and when you get Vista PCs, you discover Vista doesnt offer drivers for this printer."
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