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Printers and Photocopiers – A Buyer’s Guide

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Due to an ever expanding range available, choosing a printer, photocopier or multifunctional device that is the perfect fit for your business is getting more and more difficult. Figuring out what you need from a printer, and which technology is the best value, isn’t always straightforward and often leads to questions of ‘Will my printer be out of date straight away?’ or ‘When is the right time to buy?’.

Here is our guide to helping you find the right device for your business, and hopefully reassure you that the device you buy will be the right fit for many years to come.

1. What are your organisations print needs?

There are many factors to consider when buying a printing device.
• Do you need a device that only prints, or do you need it to scan, photocopy and fax?
• Do you ever print onto A3 sheet or larger, or would an A4 device be sufficient?
• How often do you print in colour or would you be able to manage with a black and white device?
• How many prints do you do on a monthly basis? Do you scan or copy multi-page documents?
• What type of papers will you need to print on?

2. What features must your printer have?

It’s worth speaking to your account manager to see what your current machine offers you, and what you want your next device to be capable of, to make your day-to-day office tasks simpler. Today, even the smallest, most inexpensive printers can offer a wide range of features such as:
• USB printing
• Scan to email and folder
• Page collation
• One button ID copy
• fingerprint recognition
• Envelope printing
• Printing from iPad, printing from mobile device
• Printing from Apple device
• Does your industry require you to print from specialist software?

3. How many people will be using the device?

All printers come with USB connectivity, so you can connect one computer to the printer, which is sufficient if you are the sole user of the printer. If you need the device to be more versatile, you can connect the printer via network or wi-fi to enable more than one person to send jobs to the printer. If there are going to be more that one person using the printer, it is also recommended that you have PCL (Printer Control Language) drivers instead of GDI (Graphical Device Interface). Additionally, you need to think about managing your users. Papercut software is a fantastic solution to monitoring who and which department is printing, and how much they are printing.

4. How user-friendly is the device?

Multifunctional printers, especially the larger models can look a little bit intimidating. Making sure that your employees will be able to use the device is a really key factor in choosing your device. The recent introduction of touch screens on Sharp, Ricoh and Lexmark devices have made them more user-friendly. Additionally Midshire train all new customers on how to use their device, to its full potential, ensuring that every member of staff is able to do what they need to with the printer.

5. Laser, LED or Inkjet?

These are the three most common types of printers. Here are some key facts about them:

Laser and LED printers are likely to have higher initial purchase price for cartridges, but are likely to have lower cost per copy. This is because you can print more pages from one cartridge compared to an inkjet printer. These devices also tend to print far quicker than an inkjet printer, and are well suited for large-volume printing. They can also have the capability to print double sided due to the addition of a duplex unit. Additionally, laser and LED printers tend to have better text quality, but photo quality is sometimes deemed to be inferior when compared to inkjet printers.

Ink-jet printers tend to use less power than laser printers however ink-jet cartridges can be very expensive, especially since they need replacing more often. Additionally, ink, unlike toner powder comes off the printer wet, so can have a tendency to run, and can also be affected if the page gets wet.

6. How much space do you have?

Do you need a desktop printer, or a free standing device? If you currently use individual machines to photocopy, print, fax and scan, then they do indeed take up lots of room, but today MFDs are able to house all those functions into one unit; which not only saves space, but also the cost of energy to power them!

7. Remember, it’s not solely about the price

If you plan to print a lot, choose a printer that comes with the option of a large-capacity cartridge. The higher the cartridge yield, the lower the cost to print. It is also worth checking the amount of toner you receive with your photocopier; Midshire provide a full set of toner with every install, allowing you to get printing as soon as the machine is installed, and keeping you printing for a while before replacement. You should also consider how much energy your printer is likely to use, not just when working, but also in sleep mode and when it’s warming up. You can also look at TEC values (Typical Electrical Consumption).

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