Printer OEMs are transitioning toward MFPs for value-minded small business customers. Short for multi-function printers, MFPs are also called all-in-one peripherals by some brands, and they bring together printing, scanning, copying, and faxing capabilities in one machine.
Combining functionality reduces upfront costs when buying new equipment for the office, and saves space. More substantial savings stem from reducing the cost of management and supplies. You’re maintaining one machine instead of four, and an MFP consolidates the purchasing of supplies associated with paper processing. Less to fix, less to replenish—that’s the selling point of upgrading to an all-in-one device.
Smaller, cheaper laser printers & faster inkjets
If you’re considering which printer is best for the office, one of the first questions you’re asking is, ink or laser? Nowadays, it’s good to forget what you know about ink printers and laser printers because the paradigms have shifted a bit. Thinking about new laser printers as large, expensive, enterprise-only pieces of equipment is quite frankly outdated. As is the idea that new ink printers are slow, expensive, and only suitable only for low-volume workloads. That’s simply not the case any longer.
Today, printer manufacturers put to market small-footprint mono laser printers capable of handling a 20,000 page per month (and higher) duty cycle for under $200. Promotional pricing for laser color printers is in the same price range. Today it’s not uncommon to find a laser printer in a small home office because the pricing is so competitive. If you’re on the market for a laser printer, you can find some real value—a good place to start is look at the latest offerings from the leaders in the space: Brother HL-L2350DW (SMB); Okidata B4600 (midlevel); and HP LaserJet Enterprise M506x (enterprise).
Go easy on the ink & toner
If you’re considering an ink printer, here’s something that will save on your TCO: You’ll find this bit of advice in our printer buying guide as well: Ignore manufacturer ratings about ink cartridges—the pages-per-cartridge rating is not an apples-to-apples comparison. A number of factors play into ink use that’s not related to printing onto paper. Power cycling and head cleaning are two major culprits.
A printer’s DPI (dots per inch) determines price and ink expenditures. If you’re printing a brochure with lifestyle images that need to pop, then you’ll want to be printing at 1200 dpi or higher. If you’re printing just a few graphs, 600 dpi will probably suffice. Only put as much ink on paper as is required—you’ll save money by doing so. That said, a good economic choice for small office ink printer is the HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 or Brother MFC-J6530DW.
Better alignment of paper size and printing needs
Fitting your printing needs to the correct MFP also determines how cost-effective the machine will perform. If you’re shopping for a new printer, you might wonder, what is the difference between A3 and A4 printers, and why should I care? Here’s where you want to consider the paper size your business or department is using to print.
- An A3 printer is designed for both ledger paper (11” x 17”) and letter paper (8.5” x 11”). A3 paper is about the same size as ledger, at (11.69” x 16.43”).
- An A4 printer is smaller, and prints letter paper and postcards, envelopes, and other paper products smaller than letter size. A4 paper and letter paper are about the same size, with A4 measuring (8.25” x 11.69”).
Affordability at larger formats
A3 machines are larger and have more robust features—a larger capacity paper tray, a heavy duty stapler, 3-hole punches, and folding and finishing options. A4 machines are smaller, lighter, and tend to have a no-frills design, and has a lower price tag. However, always pay attention to the total cost of ownership when deciding which printer to purchase. A4 machines generally have higher service and supply costs, and usually cost more on a per-page basis. A4 printers are made for light duty, so often their internal parts are disposable and not meant to be repaired.
Knowing your printer’s duty cycle is probably the best information to have when choosing which printer to buy. Here’s a consensus rule on which to base your decision: If your monthly paper volume exceeds 4,500 pages per month, an A3 MFP is the most cost-effective printer for your needs. If you’re between 1,000-4,000 pages an A4 is probably a better fit.
Starting at the end of last year (2017) HP Inc. is actively pushing at claiming a share of the A3 market with its newest MFPs. They’ve acquired Samsung’s printer business in November 2017, and have been busy launching A3 models of its own. Speed is their value proposition: HP’s PageWide technology can fire off color prints at up to 80 pages per minute. If you’re printing color brochures LaserJet Pro 200 Series is something to behold: this MFP is targeted at small businesses and offers duplex printing of 13 pages per minute—HP claims it the fastest in this class of printers.
Easy to use touch-screen interface saves time
Convenience is a time saving factor in the office, so consider ease of use a resource-saving feature. Most new multifunction printers can be accessed wirelessly throughout a business network. This is great in the context of a BYOD office. For business-class wireless laser MFPs, check out the Xerox WorkCentre 3000/6000 series, the latest Canon ImageClass MF200 series. Brother adds NFC connectivity to their Wi-Fi print offering with their new MFC-L2750DW and MFC-L2750DW XL MFPs.
Connectivity is also a big time saver. Most new offerings from printer manufacturers support a full menu of choices for connecting to the productivity software you’re using on a mobile computing device. So, whether you’re using Google for Work and Google Cloud Print on an Android or Chrome device, or Apple and AirPrint on your iOS phone or tablet, most new small business printers provide the support you need to print conveniently and securely from the office wireless network and beyond.
Streamlined & secure setup and monitoring
You can’t have a conversation about printer ROI without mentioning security. Printers are a massive vulnerability for many companies. An unsecured printer may allow unauthorized individuals to access sensitive documents that either have already been printed, or are on their way to the printer over a wireless connection. If these documents contain information like banking information, social security numbers, or health records, this results in regulatory violations and severe damages for a company.
The good news is, it’s not too difficult to set up a network printer in a secure fashion. You can secure a printer in a few steps if the firmware is kept up to date, and it’s a model that the manufacturer continues to support in that regard.
Even better, newer printers make secure setup and monitoring easier—especially if you’re looking after more than one printer. For example, new HP printers and MFPs have HP’s Sure Start self-healing BIOS and runtime intrusion detection to secure the device’s onboard storage where document scans are saved. Elsewhere in the industry, OEMs are moving toward adopting document-security measures that require an employee to swipe their ID badge, or put sensitive documents behind a password they enter into the printer before the document is picked up.
Whether you’re choosing a new wireless printer or sampling looking at tightening security in your existing office peripheral setup, pay attention to the included security features and commit to deploying them once the equipment is installed in the office.