All hail the paperless office! Early exponents of all-digital offices didn’t count on Printers for London offices getting so darned good at being all-round office busybodies. The latest models from the likes of Epson, HP, Canon and Brother can scan, copy and fax, print double-sided and superfast in A3 sizes and even in colour, plus they can be used by phones and tablets. Some can even be controlled from the other side of the world.
However, there are key questions to remember when choosing an office printer. Is speed a priority, or is low-cost more important? Do I need colour and exacting quality, or will mono, draft quality prints suffice? Will staff need to print remotely?
Whatever decisions you make will restrict what can be done in the future, so it’s worth thinking about the needs of the office both generally and for specific teams. For instance, a team of magazine designers will have no use for a cheap mono laser printer, while an A3 colour inkjet is overkill for an office that prints only invoices and letters.
Laser printing may sound much more exciting than inkjet technology, but you need to know the difference between these two competitors. They may often square-off in marketing blurb, but while laser is all about volume, inkjet focuses on quality. That’s probably your decision made; large offices that need to print a very high volume in draft, mono quality – and as quickly as possible – should almost always choose a laser printer. However, do bear in mind that laser printers generally take up a lot of space, and that the toner cartridges are very expensive.
The more versatile inkjet printers tend to be slower, smaller, and can print in high quality, such as photos, posters and graphics. By far the best option for design-oriented offices that need to produce in colour, inkjet printers also tend to be better all-rounders.
Those are the traditional battle-lines for the two technologies, but there is increasingly a lot of crossover between the two.
Although not designed to be the workhorses of a large corporate office, the multifunctional printer is ideal for small businesses, small teams or for individual/home offices. Any printer that can print, copy and scan tends to be called a 3-in-1. Add fax and you’ve got a 4-in-1, which may or may not be useful, depending on (the age of) your company’s client base. Adding fax usually entails an extra cost, and it’s quickly disappearing from mid-range printers.
As well as choosing between an A4-only printer and one capable of printing in A3 (which are rapidly coming down in size and price), it’s vital to know what else staff in the office need to print on. Some inkjet printers include a rear speciality media feed that can take A3-sized thick card and photo paper, or a media tray that can print on a CD or DVD.