Business Printer Buying Guide

Much as we would like to go paper-free entirely, it just isn’t going to happen. Thirty years ago, I remember a technology futurist saying “We’ll sooner see a paperless bathroom than a paperless office.” He predicted that more computer usage would mean more and more printing, and it turns out he was right. So what’s the best printer for your business? Read on for some tips on how to buy a business-class printer…

Buying a Business Printer

So you need a printer for business. There are many ways to distinguish one printer from another but the major criterion is, “Will it be used for personal or business purposes?” Consumer printers get only occasional use; business printers have to take a beating almost every day. It’s no big deal if a family photo takes ten minutes to print, but time is money when you’re spending your time making money.
Here are some tips for buying a business printer:
Plan to pay more for higher build quality and performance capacity. Those el-cheapo printers you see at the office store tend to fall apart rather quickly, and they output they produce is sub-par. They exist only as a way to drive sales of the manufacturer’s branded inkjet cartridges. Shop for a printer that will meet the reliability and speed needs of your business, and pay what it costs. The extra money you spend will be saved within the first year.
Buying a Business Printer
Online forums and reviews are a great place to read up on real-world customer experiences with specific printers. You’ll find these on sites like Epinions, Amazon.com, and computer magazine websites. When comparing printer speeds, check the specs for the “ISO ppm” speed, which is the standard for measuring print speed.
Don’t sacrifice productivity just to save space. Multi-function or all-in-one printers that print, copy, scan, and fax are fine for light consumer and sole proprietor business use. But if one function is used more heavily than others, consider investing in a high-performance standalone device for that function. The multi-function machine can be your backup in case the standalone, mission-critical device breaks.
Paper capacity and feed mechanisms matter for business use. The less often you need to stop and add paper, the better. An automatic paper feeder should have to capacity to run your typical print job without a refill. Some business-class printers have optional extra trays that let you load an extra ream of paper. Also, look for the simplest, straight-through paper feed mechanism you can find; there will be fewer frustrating paper jams and you’ll spend less time adjusting guides for various paper sizes.
Some features may or may not be must-haves for your office environment. Do you need two-sided printing (duplexing), multiple pages per sheet (N-up printing), multi-platform compatibility (printing from PC, Mac, Linux and mobile devices), low energy consumption, super-high resolution printing, photo printing capability, wireless connectivity, and remote printing? Don’t pay extra for a printer features you’ll never use.

Are you considering a discount “no-name” cartridge to replace your expensive name-brand inkjet cartridge? See The Truth About Discount Ink Cartridges.

And what about color? When it comes to TVs, black & white is old school. But printing is different — consider if you really need color. If you generate mostly reading material, like proposals or novels or legal briefs, a black-and-white printer may be all you need most of the time. It will cost a lot less than a color printer both up front and especially when it’s time to order more ink.
Ink technology is another criterion. Ink jet technology is relatively cheap and adequate for impermanent things like flyers, but the water-soluble ink is fragile and won’t last forever. The most vibrant, permanent ink type is “dye sublimation,” but it’s the most expensive. Laser printing is excellent for high-speed, long-lasting printing.
“Printing without printing” is a significant feature in many modern printers. One-button emailing of scanned documents is a popular feature. Some printers will even upload documents to Web sites and social media services. This sort of thing is useful if your business is “extremely virtual,” but don’t pay extra for it just because it’s cool.

Enough Theory… How About a Few Recommendations?

Here are some highly-rated business printers to consider, for various needs:
The Xerox ColorQube 8570dn ($599 MSRP) comes with every bell and whistle imaginable and prints at the highest resolution, 2500 dpi.
The Canon Office Products IX6820 Wireless Inkjet Business Printer does 4″ x 6″ mailers to 11″ x 17″ spreadsheets – even big 13″ x 19″ presentation charts. It comes with WiFi, Ethernet, USB, and cloud printing options. List price $199, currently $147 at Amazon.
The Epson WorkForce WF-7510 Wireless All-in-One Wide-Format Color Inkjet Printer, Copier, Scanner, Fax takes paper up to 13×19 inches. Lists for $249, currently $176 at Amazon.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…


More Posts about Printing:

  • 400 Free Tools For Business Building

  • Inkjet, Laser, or All-In-One Printer?

  • Business Printer Buying Guide

Comments

  1. Great article, Bob – but how about a resource for comparing features (or selecting features and showing printers that have them)? It would be extra-special if one of the features one could search by were ink / toner cartridge compatibility… in an environment with a dozen different machines, the cost of stocking supplies is ridiculous, if every one uses a different cartridge.

  2. Mac 'n' Cheese says:

    I agree you shouldn’t spend money for features you don’t need. But the three examples of good printers that you give all contain features many, many businesses don’t need: “every bell and whistle imaginable,” and 13″ x 19″ capacity.
    What’s your recommendation for a good high-speed basic color printer that prints 8-1/2″ x 11″ or 14″? My guess is the answer to THAT question is what 75% or more of your readers are looking for.
    EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s exactly why I mentioned the Canon Office Products IX6820 Wireless Inkjet Business Printer. Its description says: “the ideal office printer, able to output everything from 4″ x 6″ mailers to 11″ x 17″ spreadsheets – even big 13″ x 19″ presentation charts… connectivity options including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Air Print and Google Cloud Print… produce(s) sharp, exceptionally detailed photos… high performance 5 Individual Ink Tank System… Only Replace The Inks That Run Out!”

  3. Ian Martin says:

    Whoa; Hold on there. You are taling about business printers and then you go ahead and recommend n Inkjet printer?
    They are not cost effective in the office. Toners yes, even colour toners are cheaper in the long run.
    Inkjets use way too much of a companies resources. Sure the up front costs are lower, and that’s because the printer companies know that you will spend 10 – 20 times the cost of the hardware on supplies.
    If you are going to do anything with a business printer, especially anything in the range of 10 – 2000 pages epr month, don’t buy an inkjet. Buy something fit for purpose and get a toner based machine.
    When you do, assuming that you’ll have roughly 5 – 6% coverage (which is what all page counts for toners are based on) at least you’ll be able to determine your cost per page.
    And one last thing. remember that larger toners are better than smaller toners. More cost effective and double the size does not mean double the price.
    Always check your costs of toners before buying the printer. Go to your local office store and physically check the cost and page count for each toner. This is the only real way to be sure you know what you’ll pay in the long run.
    Inkjet’s for business? Only if you have wide format or other specialist low volue (page count) printers. Otherwise stick to lasers.
    EDITOR’S NOTE: I hear what you’re saying about lasers. But a business-class color laser printer can cost over $1000, especially if you need 11×17 printing. And if you buy your inkjet cartridges from non-OEM sources such as LD Products, you can save a TON of money.

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