Plenty of people turn to all-in-one printers for their home offices – and why, not? The fax machine might only be used to send in a last-minute field trip permission slip every once and a while and the copier might only be responsible for duplicating tax documents every year. In a home-setting, a multifunction machine is handy to have around and won’t take up too much room.
And you’re likely to find more of them than even regular inkjet printers. On OfficeDepot.com there are nine ink-jet printer choices for sale compared with 47 all-in-one options.
But is an all-in-one machine enough to run your small business? There are so many expenses associated with starting a new business and equipment costs can add up quickly, so purchasing a budget-friendly three-in-one option can be tempting and has plenty of advantages including:
Saving money - Buying one multifunction machine offers significant savings over buying three or four different ones. Separately, a printer, copier, fax machine and scanner can cost anywhere from $50-$200 a piece for more basic models. All-in-one printers cost anywhere from $70-$300 for inkjet models and upwards of $4,000 for a laser model.
Less space needed - If you’re running a small business that has a small amount of office space, then you won’t want to have to give up valuable real estate to accommodate a bulky printer and a bulky fax machine and a bulky copy machine. Having just one machine that can multitask means you need just one spot reserved office equipment.
Less maintenance – if something goes wrong with your equipment, there’s only one number and one manual you’ll have to keep on hand to repair it. Not having to dig through a stack of manuals or track down contact information for different repairmen will allow you to focus on more important things — like running your business. Also, you won’t have to stock up on and keep track of three different kinds of ink cartridges and toner for your fax, copier and printer, which will save you money and headaches.
Of course, there are also disadvantages to using one piece of equipment for all of your document needs. Some of the cons include:
No more multitasking – Chances are, your multifunction printer, copier and fax machine won’t be able to handle more than one job at a time. So you won’t be able to send a fax at the same time you’re making copies. And you won’t be able to print one document at the same time you’re copying another.
Quality – Depending on what type of machine you buy, you might have to sacrifice print quality. Several reviews of multifunction printers on techradar.com said that photo printing could have been better (something that might not be a big concern for businesses that just need a printer to handle day-to-day tasks rather than presentation-worthy printouts).
Lost functionality – If the all-in-one machine breaks down, then you’re losing the ability to do multiple things — print, fax, scan and copy documents. Purchasing the machines separately ensures that if one breaks down, you’ll still be able to get other jobs done.
Keep in mind, too, that the fax function of an all-in-one machine is quickly becoming obsolete. Now there are electronic faxing services which allow you to send and receive faxes via the internet. The faxes that used to arrive painstakingly slow on your fax can now pop up instantly in you inbox — saving you paper and ink.
Of course, you’ll probably still encounter a few holdouts that aren’t interested in giving electronic faxing a whirl, and those customers and clients will appreciate your ability to send and receive traditional faxes.
Overall, if you need a workhorse to perform some basic office tasks for you, an all-in-one copy is a good option.
Learn more about researching and selecting office equipment for your startup on Business.com.