While there has been talk of the “paperless office” for a while now, it is unlikely we will see it in the next several years. There remains in business a need for printed, documented data and hard copies of information.
Before you start shopping for an office printer, determine the print needs of your business. Consider the following questions:
- Do you produce a high volume of printed materials?
- Is your office printer part of a network?
- Do you have a significant need for color copies?
A small office that has limited print needs (and occasional scanning or faxing needs) can get away with a multifunctional printer until the business begins to grow. These machines 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 with fewer plastic parts than the cheaper multifunctional printer. While these machines cost more up front, the toner cartridges they use last longer than the expensive printer cartridges the cheaper printers burn through quickly. If you have little or no use for color, you can buy a good monochrome laser office printer that can print around one thousand pages with one cartridge.
When shopping for a laser printer, be sure to consider paper supply issues, since you do not want to be feeding paper into the printer too often. For a steady volume, you want a paper tray that handles 250 sheets or more, or perhaps two paper trays, one for letterhead and one for legal-sized paper. Also, consider the printer memory. More memory will allow you to run larger documents and graphics more easily.
If the printer will be part of a network, you will need a printer that can handle the input from various computers. For smaller offices, most printers are ready to handle simple networking needs. For larger offices, you want to have a network laser printer that can handle the needs of many people in the company. Such printer can typically connect to a local area network (LAN). Network printers can handle various types of paper and will typically print 15 to 30 pages per minute. Such printers are built to withstand the additional usage and will usually cost $1,500 and up. Also check the depth of the printer drawers to make sure they can hold the necessary paper supply that network usage will require.
Should you have significant color printing needs for presentations and promotional materials, you should consider having a dedicated color printer. This will allow for printing higher quality color materials at the same time you are printing more standard documents on your other printer.
If you have a regular need for color photos, you will need a photo cartridge, which works more effectively with high-gloss photo paper. You might also consider an inkjet color printer. While inkjets have become less common with the advent of high quality color laser printers, they still provide excellent color copies (more slowly than a laser printer) at a cheaper initial price. Over time, ink can become costly. If, however, you compare quality and find that the higher quality is worthwhile for your color printing needs, then an inkjet can serve as your second printer, and you can use your laser for standard document printing.
For a thorough guide to how to choose the best printer for your business needs, be sure to read “Choosing the Right Office Printer.”