Modern office printers come in many different styles, sizes and price tags. With so many options available it can be very difficult for small business owners to decide which printer will best suit the needs of their business. With that in mind, here are our top tips to help you purchase the right office printer.
1) Understand Your Needs
The first thing you should do when starting your search for a new printer is to look at your needs. How many people will be using the printer? How many pages do you typically print in a day? Do you mainly print in colour or black and white? Do you need a scanner?
Answering questions like these help you to focus your search by eliminating printers that don’t have the features that will fulfill your basic needs.
2) Understand The Features
Once you have an understanding of your needs, it’s time to start looking for printers that have features that meet those needs. Here are a few features that you should look out for when comparing office printers.
Print speed (measured in pages per minute) used to be extremely important. Most businesses today, however, are printing less than they did 5-10 years ago, and those print jobs are often smaller. The time to print the first page is now much more important than pages per minute.
Most printers are set up to print on standard letter and legal sized paper. If your business uses more than one kind of paper on a regular basis (eg different sizes or colours, cheques, letterhead, or forms), you’ll want to make sure that it has two paper trays. This allows you to print both types (or sizes) without having to constantly go to the printer and switch out the paper every time you want to print something different.
The larger the paper tray capacity is, the less often you will need to replace the paper and the more productive your office will be. Look for trays that can hold an entire package of paper.
If your printer will be used by more than one computer, you’ll want to make sure that your new printer has networking capabilities. Wired networking is much more reliable than wireless networking, greatly reducing the potential for frustration when your computer won’t connect to the printer. Wireless networking, on the other hand, allows you to print from mobile devices that you otherwise might not be able to print from.
Duplexing (Two-Sided Printing and Scanning)
If you need two-sided printing and scanning capabilities, it is worth looking to see how the printer accomplishes that task. Printing two-sided can save considerable paper. Two-sided scanning using a document feeder is much more convenient and quicker than trying to do it on the scanner glass.
3) Laser Or Inkjet?
One of the most basic decisions that you will have to make when purchasing a new office printer is whether to go with a laser printer or an inkjet printer. For years laser printers were seen as being the more economical choice and more reliable for business. This is no longer the case, however.
The reason that inkjet printers were viewed as being more expensive came down to the cost of their replacement ink cartridges. Years ago, ink cartridges and printheads were sold together in one piece. Modern commercial inkjet printers, on the other hand, keep the ink cartridges and printhead separate. This allows you to replace the ink without also having to replace the costly print head; drastically reducing the price of replacing the ink.
Another knock on inkjet printers used to be that the printheads would dry out and clog if not regularly used. This was also fixed with the addition of printhead cleaning systems to commercial printers that eliminate printhead clogging.
Today inkjet printers are the better choice for almost all commercial applications. There are a few reasons for this:
- Their replacement ink is less expensive per page than a laser printer’s replacement toner.
- Black vs colour printing costs per page are similar with inkjet while colour printing is often more expensive with laser printers.
- Inkjet printers can deliver a better print quality.
- Laser printers consume more electricity.
- Laser printers are slower to start printing as they have to wait to heat up before the first page can be printed.
4) Consider Long Term Costs
When purchasing a new printer it is important to consider both the purchase price and long-term costs of the printer. When determining the long-term costs of a printer you’ll want to consider 4 things:
- Replacement ink / toner. How much will you need to spend on ink/toner? Rather than looking at the purchase cost of the replacement cartridges, instead try to focus on the cost per page.
- Electrical costs. While determining the exact electrical costs of a printer is tough to do, an inkjet printer will always consume less electricity than a similarly sized laser printer.
- Lifespan. Simply put, the longer a printer lasts, the longer it is until you need to spend money to replace it.
- Time. The more time you have to spend waiting for your printer to complete a job, the less time you have for everything else you need to accomplish in your day.
Read More: How to reduce your long-term printing costs.
5) Central Printing vs Distributed Printing
Our last office printer buying tip is to consider whether you should buy one large central printer that will be used by the whole office (central printing) or multiple smaller printers (distributed printing).
For many years most businesses utilized central printing as it provides the lowest cost per sheet. More and more businesses are turning towards distributed printing, however, as it can help to increase productivity. For more information on the pros and cons of both centralized and distributed printing, consult this guide.