The Best Small Business Copiers of 2020

By Andrew Martins,
business.com staff
| Updated
Jul 23, 2020

These are the best color copiers for 2020. See up-to-date comparisons on new features and the prices for the top color copy machines for small business.
Best Budget Color Copier
Uses INKvestment Tank technology
Includes internet connectivity
Prints up to 30,000 pages a month
Best Color Copier for Small Businesses
Good pick for smaller teams
Prints 30 pages per minute
Environmentally friendly
Most Accessible Copier
Compatible with Amazon Alexa
High storage capacity
Prints up to 40 pages per minute
Highest Duty Cycle
Up to 300,000 sheets a month
Easy-to-use interface
HP SureStart data protection
These are the best color copiers for 2020. See up-to-date comparisons on new features and the prices for the top color copy machines for small business.
Updated 07/23/20

We've updated this page with a Frequently Asked Questions section.

Printers and copiers might sound like relics these days. As the business world has gone largely digital, the ubiquitous image of an office whirring with printing paper has faded out of the public consciousness. However, printers and copiers still play a valuable role in the life of a modern office, where paper copies remain important even if the digital revolution has reduced their central role in daily operations.

Today's copiers, often referred to as multifunction printers (MFP) or copiers (MFC) tend to be all-in-one products. They are not only able to copy, print, fax and scan materials, but also offer internet connectivity and compatibility with digital files across a wide range of mobile devices. Moreover, many modern copiers can track wasteful usage by employees and customers, allowing businesses to save money on paper, ink and energy while also lowering their environmental footprint.

If you're in the market for a printer or copier, your options are more modernized than you might think. This guide includes everything you need to know about choosing the right copier for your office, as well as reviews of some of the best ones on the market today.

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Compare Our Best Picks

  Brother MFC-J6945DW Xerox WorkCentre 6515 Sharp MX-4071 HP Color LaserJet MFP E87660z
Print/copy speed  22 pages per minute for B&W, 20 pages per minute for color 30 pages per minute 40 pages per minute 50-70 pages per minute
Digital storage   512MB of memory 2GB of print memory, 4GB of fax memory  5GB of memory, 500GB of storage 7GB of base memory, 640GB of storage
Duty cycle   300 pages per month 50,000 pages per month 175,000 pages per month 300,000 pages per month
 Size (WDH)  22.6 x 18.8 x 14.9 inches 16.5 x 19.9 x 19.7 inches, 67.7 lbs. 24 x 26 x 33 inches, 191 lbs. 32 x 24.25 x 26.75 inches, 153 lbs.
Price $349.99 $549.99 $12,925-$22,825 Can't be purchased, only leased

Our Reviews

Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank: Best Color Copier for Businesses on a Budget

The Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank is affordably priced at $349.99.
This copier comes with a year's supply of ink for no additional charge.
The Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank has a low memory capacity.

The Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank is an all-in-one color inkjet copier that can print pages up to 11 x 17 inches, with the option for you to change the paper size when printing, copying, scanning or faxing. It also offers flexibility within the office through the connection to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Evernote and Brother Cloud apps.

 

To view all of our recommendations for copiers, visit our best picks page.

Pricing

The INKvestment Tank all-in-one color copier costs around $349.99, which results in a cost per page of less than 1 cent for black ink and 5 cents for color ink. Small businesses that want to save money and print at low costs should think about purchasing or leasing this model. [Need more details on the differences between buying and leasing a copier? Check out this article on our sister site Business News Daily.]

The INKvestment Tank comes with up to a year's worth of ink (at an estimated 300 pages per month – 60% black-and-white pages and 40% color pages) in the Ultra High-Yield cartridges, helping businesses avoid printing interruptions and save money in the long run. There is an option to get the cheaper Super High-Yield cartridge, which yields about 3,000 pages, whereas the Ultra High-Yield cartridge yields about 6,000 pages.

This model also offers an ink-saving mode that reduces the color darkness and emphasizes the outlines of any images. You can access the Ink Save Mode through the control panel or by using the printer driver to change the printing preferences. This model has many features that can help small businesses reduce the money spent on ink and the time spent replacing cartridges.

Brother INKvestment Tank Features

The INKvestment Tank ranks among the smaller models of its class, being only 22.6 x 18.8 x 14.9 (WDH) inches, so it's good for small businesses that have compact office spaces. As a multifunction printer, it allows you to print, copy, scan and fax pages up to 11 x 17 inches, and it's set up with 512MB of memory. You can increase its productivity with the single-pass duplex copying and scanning through the 50-sheet automatic document feeder. The printing speed is 20 pages per minute (ppm) for color pages and 22 ppm for black-and-white pages. The copy speed is 11 ppm for color pages and 15 ppm for black-and-white pages.

The INKvestment Tank has a printing and copying resolution of 4800 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi) and a 2400 x 1200 dpi scanning resolution. It can print up to 30,000 pages per month and can hold around 600 sheets at a time if you include the 100-sheet multipurpose tray.

The Brother Page Gauge is another feature that makes the INKvestment Tank stand out. The Page Gauge displays how much ink has been used and how much is left. It shows the number of pages you can print with the remaining ink as well.

Connectivity and Memory

The 3.7-inch color touchscreen allows you to operate the copier as you would a smartphone or tablet. You can print from and scan to popular cloud apps such as Apple AirPrint, Google Drive, Brother iPrint&Scan, OneNote, Box, Evernote, OneDrive and Dropbox through the touchscreen. There are also features to scan to a mobile device, email or Microsoft Office. It has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and a USB interface. There's also the option of connecting via Ethernet or NFC (near-field communication). This allows businesses that may not have an internet connection to access the copier within the office.

The printer operates with Windows 7 SP1, 8, 8.1, and 10; Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, and 2016; and macOS v.10.11.6, 10.12.x, and 10.13x. It also comes with a standard memory of 512MB.

Brother Customer Support

Brother's customer service consists of free phone, email or live chat support. Support representatives are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. (EST). The company provides free technical support for the life of your product. 

On the Brother website, you can view a FAQs section and how-to videos for your printer. If you are unsure of where to buy this model, there is an option on the model page to locate where you can purchase it online and locally. You can view and download manuals from the model page and access downloads and drivers for the device. The warranty statement is available there as well.

For this model, Brother offers a two-year limited warranty. The warranty begins at purchase from an authorized reseller and covers the printer, consumables and accessory items, such as toner cartridges, drums, printheads, ink cartridges, and tape rolls or cassettes.

Limitations

Compared to some of the other copiers we've reviewed, the INKvestment Tank has a fairly small touchscreen. The copier itself is small in relation to the other copiers, but if you have just a home office, it may still take up more space than you'd like.

The standard memory storage is low compared to other models we've reviewed. With only 512MB of memory, the printer will not be able to process a lot of jobs at one time. It may slow down production for businesses that have a large print volume. For instance, if your business prints a lot of images or documents that require color, you will want to look for a multifunction copier with at least 1GB of memory for faster production.

If you have a midsize or large business, this may not be the printer for you. To save money on printing, your business would have to stay in the range of only about 300 pages per month. If you find your business needing to print more than that each month, you will find yourself buying ink more frequently, and those costs will begin to add up. 

Another drawback is that this model does not have advanced security features. It does have NFC and cloud connectivity capabilities, but that does not guarantee a fully protected system. A lot of the other models we've reviewed come with protective software, applications and tools that assure you your information is safe and secure.

Xerox WorkCentre 6515: Best Overall Color Copier for Small Businesses

The Xerox WorkCentre 6515 has separate print cartridges.
The copier is compatible with mobile devices.
Toner for the Xerox WorkCentre 6515 is expensive.

Xerox WorkCentre 6515 is the best color copier for small businesses. This multifunction printer is easy to use, reliable and secure. It features a simple user interface and comes equipped with mobile printing functionality, cloud-connected apps, and environmentally friendly features. On top of all of these features, the WorkCentre 6515 offers top-quality color with its color management tools. The WorkCentre 6515 features PANTONE® color technology, which ensures your business is printing collateral materials in uniform, consistent colors. In addition, Xerox Color Correction technology ensures top-notch quality with the images in your printed documents.

 

To view all of our recommendations for copiers, visit our best picks page.

Pricing

The Xerox WorkCentre 6515 costs $549. A rebate is currently available, and Xerox offers leasing options as well.

You can choose from two models: the 6515/DN (automatic duplexing) or the 6515/DNI (Wi-Fi connectivity). After the rebates have been applied, the prices drop to $319 for the 6515/DN and $339 for the 6515/DNI. Extras, such as cartridges, additional paper trays or wireless network adapters, will bump up the final costs of this copier. [Need more details on the differences between buying and leasing a copier? Check out this article on our sister site Business News Daily.]

Toner and drum cartridges, if purchased through Xerox, range from $90 to $168 depending on the type of cartridge your business needs. Drum cartridges yield around 48,000 pages. Standard black print cartridges yield 2,500 pages, while the standard cyan, magenta and yellow print cartridges print 1,000 pages. The high-capacity black print cartridges print 5,500 pages, and colored print cartridges yield 2,400 pages, while extra-high capacity colored print cartridges print 4,300 pages.

Xerox WorkCentre 6515 Features

Built for small work teams, the WorkCentre 6515 color laser printer is best for smaller businesses or home and startup businesses. It is one of the smallest MFPs of its class, measuring 16.5 x 19.9 x 19.7 inches and weighing 67.7 lbs.

For its small size, this MFP can print up to 30 pages per minute and 50,000 pages per month. These specifications make the WorkCentre 6515 stand out. Competing copiers, costing around $700 to $3,000, have similar print speeds, but this model is as productive and more efficient but costs less.

The WorkCentre 6515 comes equipped with a few environmentally friendly features. First, it has separate print cartridges so businesses can maximize the life of each ink cartridge. Additionally, the 6515 uses Xerox's EA (emulsion aggregate) toner that is designed to reduce toner waste and extend the life of the unit.

A variety of paper types can be used with this MFP. Businesses that create booklets, banners, posters, business cards, envelopes, labels, letterheads, etc., will benefit from this model. It can print up to 1200 x 2400 dpi and copy/scan up to 600 x 600 dpi. It holds 850 sheets, but for an additional cost, you can purchase paper trays that bump the tray capacity up to 1,400 sheets.

Connectivity and Memory

Wi-Fi is optional with this particular model, however, the WorkCentre 6515 comes equipped for cloud printing and scanning to Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud. It comes with 2GB of print memory and 4GB of fax memory.

Xerox's Print Service Plugin for Android is free in the Google Play Store and helps make mobile printing easy for users. Once connected to your printer through the wireless network, you can print directly from mobile devices. The Xerox Mobile Link App, available for free in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, allows users to scan, email, and fax from any mobile device. Along with these apps, Xerox Workplace Suite and Xerox Workplace Cloud offer print management and mobility solutions right from mobile devices.

Security

The WorkCentre 6515 has an embedded web server that allows employees and IT to manage access, perform detailed status checks and administer system settings. This model offers simultaneous HTTP and HTTPS support, 802.1x authentication, S/MIME, secure fax receive, LDAP (SASL) and network authentication. It is also equipped to keep your documents secure with IPsec, SNMPv3, IP filtering and secure print.

Xerox Customer Service and Support

Xerox strives to ensure customers are satisfied and that the service and products it delivers are high quality.

Phone assistance is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST). Email assistance is also available through a contact form online.

The WorkCentre 6515 comes with a one-year warranty, and should problems arise, a service technician will come to your office to repair the machine.

Limitations

The Work Centre 6515 is not suitable for large or growing businesses, especially those that produce large quantities of prints, copies, scans or faxes. The printer only has 2GB of memory, which, again, if you print or copy a lot of items, you'll experience delays as the unit prepares each print or copy job.

Another drawback is the cost of toner. The cartridges for this model yield anywhere from 1,000 to 4,300 pages, so if you think you will exceed this amount per month, you'll spend a hefty amount replacing toner cartridges more frequently than you may need to.

Sharp MX-4071: The Most Accessible Color Copier for Small Businesses

The Sharp MX-4071 has a reasonably small footprint.
This copier offers multiple security features.
The Sharp MX-4071 has a relatively low paper capacity.

The Sharp MX-4071 is part of Sharp's Color Advanced Series. It features a large touchscreen display, an array of finishing options and the multifunction printer (MFP) Voice feature, a hands-free voice interaction through Amazon's Alexa that follows simple verbal commands. Users ask Alexa to complete an action using the MFP, and it will be completed. You can also change the quantity or color of a print job, along with a range of finishing options, without ever having to push a button. This feature allows Sharp's MFPs to become accessible to those in the workplace with visual impairments or other restrictions that may otherwise prevent them from using the printer's touchscreen.

 

To view all of our recommendations for copiers, visit our best picks page.

Pricing

The MX-4071 is designed to be a customizable MFP; therefore, you'll need to contact Sharp to be put in touch with one of its authorized agents who will then provide you with a quote. 

The cost of this copier ranges from $12,925 for the base unit up to $22,825 if you want large capacity paper trays, additional finishing options (saddle stitch, hole punching, etc.), etc.

Because the MX-4071 is a laser printer, it requires toner cartridges to operate. These cartridges can be purchased from outside retailers. Prices range from $75 to $185 per cartridge. The estimated yield for each black cartridge is 40,000 pages, while color cartridges yield approximately 24,000 pages.

Sharp MX-4071 Features

The MX-4071 measures 24 x 26 x 33 inches (width x depth x height) and weighs 191 pounds. Smaller businesses will appreciate it's size – the unit does not take up a lot of space. It comes with an all-in-one cartridge that is designed to reduce supply costs and can maximize uninterrupted printing. The copier comes with 5GB of memory, and the hard drive disk holds up to 500GB of information – which is enough storage for any small business.

The base unit of the MX-4071 holds 650 sheets; however, for more money, you can add high-capacity trays that hold up to 6,300 sheets. It can print up to 40 pages per minute with a print resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi. The scanning and copying resolution is 600 x 600 dpi.

Its duty cycle, or the number of pages that can be printed each month, is 175,000 pages per month. Sharp's Color Consistency System allows for long-lasting, high-quality output. Though this model only comes programmed to print, copy and scan, for an additional fee, you can add fax capabilities as well.

Accessibility

The MX-4071 is not only notable for its small size and high-quality printing but its accessibility. Users can print and scan through cloud-based services such as Google Cloud Print, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Dropbox, Office 365 and Gmail. There is a customizable, tiltable, 10.1-inch color LCD touchscreen with an easy user interface mode.

In Easy Mode, users can find the most commonly used functions, like duplexing and paper size selection. There is also a pull-out keyboard to help more advanced users easily navigate through the various options and settings.

The MX-4071 includes an application portal that administrators can use to add new applications or update them. One of the best things about the Sharp copier is the MFP Voice feature, which connects users to the machine through natural language, hands-free voice interaction with Amazon's Alexa. The MFP Voice feature allows those who are unable to see or cannot use the MFP due to other restrictions to quickly and easily scan, print or copy.

Security

Sharp has included multiple security features to protect a company's infrastructure and data. 

One such feature is firmware attack prevention and self-recovery, which identifies malicious activity and will restore the firmware to its most recent, secure state. A new feature, whitelisting, will deny any access attempt if the source data is not on the white list. Additional features include IP/MAC address filtering, protocol filtering, port control, user authentication, TLS encryption and Kerberos support.

Other security features available to business owners and admins are authority groups, which help businesses manage access to data and control costs by restricting copying, printing or scanning.

Single sign-on, integrated ID card authentication, centralized admin password management, and end-of-lease features are also available with this model. The end-of-lease feature erases all your business's data and any personal information when you return your printer. These features ensure your information remains confidential. [Need more details on the differences between buying and leasing a copier? Check out this article on our sister site Business News Daily.]

Sharp Customer Support and Service

Sharp offers U.S.-based service and support. They help users with any level of IT experience and can answer any questions you may have. You can reach representatives by phone and email.

The MX-4071 comes with a three-year limited warranty that can be extended up to one or two years after the initial warranty period ends.

Limitations

For businesses that print large quantities of documents but wish to save money, the MX-4071 may not be the best fit. It has a standard paper capacity of 650 sheets, which is fairly low to begin with. There are optional trays you can purchase to increase the paper capacity, but the cost of those optional trays could cause you to exceed what you might be willing to spend on a copier. The MX-4071 is costly for most small businesses, though there are options to lease the machine.

Small businesses that operate in a compact office space or home-based businesses may find this model to be too large and heavy. The unit weighs 191 pounds, so it does require multiple people if you need to move the copier.

HP Color LaserJet MFP E87660z: Copier with the Highest Duty Cycle

The HP Color LaserJet MFP E87660z can churn out 50 to 70 pages per minute.
It offers an excellent feature set.
The HP Color LaserJet MFP E87660z is potentially too large for many SMBs.

HP designs its laptops and printers to increase productivity and connectivity while also saving money for businesses. The HP Color LaserJet Managed Flow MFP's toner cartridges are equipped with JetIntelligence, which the company claims increases the speed and quantity of printed pages, reduces the energy consumed, and adds extra security to the printer's operations.

 

To view all of our recommendations for copiers, visit our best picks page.

Pricing

The HP Color LaserJet is only available to be sourced through a contract lease; it cannot be purchased. This entails the printer being leased and financed under a per-copy contract. Leasing can be a good option for small businesses, especially those that wish to keep payments low over a longer period. Leasing can also be beneficial if a business doesn't want or need a copier forever. If anything goes wrong with the MFP during the time of the contract, maintenance is typically included in the leasing costs, often resulting in lower costs than businesses might normally pay in that case. To get a quote for the lease, contact HP through the online form. The form asks for information about you and your business, as well as your timeframe and budget.

When leasing the MFP to a business, HP offers onsite delivery for the next business day. Additional support options include online automated tools and diagnostics, the HP Support Community, and support agents who can answer questions and address any issues. [Need more details on the differences between buying and leasing a copier? Check out this article on our sister site Business News Daily.]

HP Color LaserJet Features

The HP Color LaserJet is a multifunction printer, allowing you to print, scan and copy. There is an option to add fax to meet your business needs. What makes this MFP stand out among its class is its duty cycle and printing speed. It can turn out about 50 to 70 pages per minute depending on the mode (Professional or Office General). Per month, the machine can print about 300,000 sheets.

The printer measures about 32 x 24.25 x 26.75 (WDH) inches, weighs around 153 pounds, and is built for small and midsize businesses. SMBs will appreciate its automatic two-sided copying, HP Color Access Control, HP EasyColor, image adjustments, collation, booklet making and scalability features. The HP Color Access Control allows administrators to control who uses color, how often color can be used and other decisions to improve efficiency. HP EasyColor adjusts the color in images to ensure the highest-quality print. 

This model prints with a resolution of 1200 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi) for black-and-white pages and 2400 x 1200 dpi for color pages. The scanning and copying resolution is 600 x 600 dpi. Additional features include print preview, tray selection when printing, the option to use black ink only, the ability to print from USB and the ability to print multiple pages per sheet (up to 16). It can hold up to 1,140 sheets in the standard model, but with optional tray add-ons it can hold up to 7,180 sheets.

Accessibility

The control panel has an 8-inch color display with a touchscreen that you can use as you would a smartphone or tablet. It features swipe navigation and scan and copy preview options. The display can be rotated and includes an illuminated home button to get you back to the home screen easily. An extended keyboard is also included.

The help key provides details on printer terms that may be unfamiliar to you. One-touch keys are another feature that make this model easy to use: You use these keys to complete common scan and copy jobs that you set up through Quick Sets. This is a helpful feature for saving common settings for fast future use. You can save your favorite settings for page orientation, print type (one-sided or two-sided) and type of paper. You can save up to 25 Quick Sets.

Connectivity and Memory

The HP Color LaserJet connects to cloud services such as Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, HP ePrint, Mopria and Microsoft SharePoint, allowing you to scan to or print from these services. It includes the options to scan to email, save to a network folder, save to USB, send to SharePoint, send to FTP or send to internet fax. These connections give your business the flexibility to print from anywhere in the office, increasing efficiency.

The more memory a printer has, the more jobs it can process in a short time. The HP Color LaserJet comes with 7GB of base memory, and 640GB of storage is available through upgrades. This is more memory than many other copiers offer; some we reviewed offer less than 1GB. A large storage capacity like this is particularly notable for businesses that need to process a large quantity of graphics, especially within a short time.  

System Security

HP Sure Start is the included software that allows protects your print data by detecting a change (caused by malware), notifying administrators and IT staff, then restoring the data to the most recent version. This model is also equipped with HP JetAdvantage Security Manager. This feature helps you manage your security with one policy. You can create your policy, add all your HP devices, and have them assessed by Security Manager. Your office administrators set the schedule for how often the printer should be assessed (daily, weekly or monthly), and Security Manager will remediate any issues that arise and renew the certificates. 

HP JetAdvantage Security Manager 3.0, Secure Print, Private Print, and Insights are several of the applications available for this copier. These tools can increase the machine's productivity and cut down costs. They break down the management and information you need into a more organized manner to help you make the best decisions and ensure that everything is running smoothly.

Security Manager 3.0 gives office administrators the ability to manage groups, create a security policy, set device credentials, modify tasks, run or schedule assessments or remediations, view assessment results, set up alerts, run reports, schedule reports, and export reports to custom locations. Secure Print and Private Print are two solutions that provide a secure way of printing and ensure there is no unwanted access to your business's private documents. Insights provides information on your office's printing behaviors and device use through its cloud-based server.

Limitations

The HP Color LaserJet is built more for businesses that are housed in an office rather than a home or particularly compact space. It takes up a large amount of space and is fairly heavy, weighing around 153 pounds, so it is not an easily portable option.

You do not get toner with the purchase of this model. Instead of being able to start using your printer as soon as it is set up, you'll need to make sure you have purchased the correct toner to be installed as well. This will increase the initial supply costs. To compound this issue, HP requires that you only use and purchase HP toner; other brands of toner cartridges will not work with this printer. HP toner can be costly, especially if your business's printing volume is high. If you want to reduce your supply costs, this might not be the multifunction printer for you.

Pricing

The prices of copiers varies widely due to the features and accessories available with each model, and the supplies needed to operate the machine. Other issues that affect pricing are service and warranty plans. To ensure that costs are more manageable for small businesses, most manufacturers offer a lease option.

Additional Costs You Should Factor Into Your Copier Budget

In addition to the upfront price of a copier, as a business owner, you should budget for the copier's operating costs, such as paper and ink (toner or inkjet). However, even these costs can be somewhat misleading. For example, inks or even low-cost machines that seem inexpensive and appear like a benefit can cause problems later, such as leaky ink cartridges or slow machines that cause your company to spend additional money to fill those performance gaps. In other words, what may seem affordable on the front end could wind up being incredibly expensive later on.

From an operational perspective, factors like copy speed can help or hinder worker productivity and collaboration. Memory capacity is another factor. The higher the memory capacity, the faster the machine is at processing each job, allowing businesses to print, scan, or copy multiple jobs in a short amount of time.

Color copiers vary widely in the features and accessories that are offered; it's important to pore over the specs sheets to find out if they have what you need. One business may need very specific features because they do a lot of mailings; another business may require vibrant presentation materials. Sophisticated models come with optional binding and finishing accessories that allow you to create small booklets or brochures.

It's just practical business sense to conduct your own cost-benefit analysis before committing to a specific copier. For a copier that will serve as the workhorse for a large number of employees, speed may be the No. 1 deciding factor. For design-centric businesses, such as ad agencies or architectural firms, ink cost and image quality are more important. Or perhaps a color copier won't fulfill your needs, in which case, you might need a wide-format printer.

Ink/Toner

Another item to pay close attention to when shopping for a copier is the type of ink or toner that is used. Typically, CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) is used for print media, instead of technology, which uses RGB (red, green, blue). Printers use varying combinations of CMYK colors with inks to create true-to-life colors for your printed materials.

If you plan on using a printer for collateral materials or items that will be used to convey your brand, it's imperative that you choose a copier that will print accurate, consistent results.

When choosing a copier, consider the functions you need and want followed by how high the demand may be for those functions. You'll also want to determine what your monthly usage will be, what types of projects the copier will be used for and who will use the machine. From there, the copier speed, price (including supply and maintenance expenses) and volume will guide your decision.

Buying Guide

What Features Are Critical for You in a Small Business Copier?

Before you take the plunge and buy or lease a specific copy machine, printer, fax and scanner, consider the following:

  • Print and copy speed
  • Paper capacity and duty cycle
  • Connectivity options
  • Ease of use
  • Accessibility features
  • Security features
  • Contract and service agreements

Speed

Speed counts when it comes to copiers and printers. No one wants to wait minutes on end for a printer to spit out a presentation or brochure. And for organizations that have a larger number of employees, a slow printer has a negative ripple effect on productivity across the office. 

Speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm). In our reviews, we have listed the ppm rate of each printer. Many, if not most, copiers today have the same speeds for both black-and-white and color copies. Laser copiers generate a faster output than inkjet. 

Many copiers offer flexible paper choices, allowing you to easily change sizes and feed the size of paper you need through the tray. A related feature that most businesses consider a must is automatic duplexing – where your color copier automatically works to copy (print, scan or fax) two-sided documents. This feature is a major time-saver. Without it, you'll be manually feeding pages into the machine, flipping them, inputting them back into the machine and repeating the process ad nauseam.

Paper Capacity and Duty Cycle

We've also included the monthly duty cycle in each review. The duty cycle is simply the number of pages that your color copier prints each month. Monthly duty cycles may be as low as 10,000 pages or as high as 150,000-plus pages. 

Think of the duty cycle as an indicator of a printer's endurance over time. And like speed, depending on the number of employees you have and projects you typically work on, you'll want to pay close attention to a printer's duty cycle when shopping for a copier.

Connectivity

In today's world of multiple devices and the cloud, the more options your digital copier offers for connections, the better. 

USB connection is still standard, but modern machines offer mobile connectivity and options for users to connect to their cloud drives, such as Box or Microsoft OneDrive. These options give users one-touch accessibility to print files that are stored anywhere, from almost any device. 

Wireless printing, allowing a user to print directly from their tablet or smartphone, is also important. Many copiers are equipped with the ability to scan directly to a cloud-based service. This can benefit businesses that receive a lot of paper documents and want to save them in an online drive or application for future reference or access.

Copiers Are Offering More 'Green' Features

Printer manufacturers have also been hard at work on designing products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Energy use (and costs) are an important factor for many business buyers. Some copiers come equipped with energy save modes and are made of recycled plastic. Many manufacturers offer recycling programs for toner cartridges and other accessories or supplies.

Ease of Use

Employees come from a range of technical backgrounds. As such, ease of use is an important factor in a color copier. It must be intuitive and convenient to use. This presents itself in many forms, such as touchscreens that mimic the interface of a smartphone and workflow solutions like scanning that are easy to navigate. 

Ease of use also applies to the system setup and initial user training. Avoid copiers that require extensive setup – plug-and-play functionality is important. Some copier manufacturers offer online manuals for their machines and how-to-videos that show you how to replace parts or accessories.

Mobility

Don't overlook the size and weight of the copier. Consider where you will place the copier. Will it be a central location easily accessible to all employees, or will it be accessible to only a few individuals? In addition, how important is portability? For smaller copiers, weight is an important factor if you plan to place it on a desk or if it's meant to be portable.

Accessibility

To make the workplace more accessible to those with disabilities, many copier manufacturers have included features like embossed marks, motion sensors, touchscreens with easy-to-use applications and voice control. Some copiers with voice control can link with Amazon's Alexa and allow users to use voice commands to complete print or copy jobs, making it easier for all users to operate. 

Security

In the age of the cloud and internet of things, security has become very important. Many copiers now come standard with password controls, centralized print policy controls and user-level access to restrict who can use the copier. 

Copiers are no longer viewed as a mundane office accessory; rather, they are now viewed as another endpoint vulnerable to the same threats as laptops and mobile phones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is best, inkjet or laser?

When it comes to the question of inkjet or laser, the answer depends on your business's needs. If you're looking to copy detailed images or graphics, then inkjet will be best for you. Copiers that use lasers and toner to produce their copies are best reserved for text-based documents. Inkjet printing capability is also good for jobs that require color, while laser printers are best for monochromatic projects. Furthermore, inkjet printers are cheaper at the outset, but their replacement ink cartridges don't last as long as toner and are more expensive in the long run.

Which is better, toner or ink?

This is an extension of the inkjet or laser question. Inkjet machines use ink cartridges, while laser machines use toner. Inkjet machines are cheaper and smaller than their laser counterparts, but ink cartridges are significantly more expensive and require more frequent replacements than toner does. Toner-based machines, however, aren't as good at printing out images as printers and copiers that use ink. The decision of whether your business should use toner or ink boils down to your company's needs.

How can you save money on copier and printer costs?

Copier and printer costs are largely derived from the replacement of paper and ink or toner. You can reduce those costs by regulating the number of documents or pages each person can print through the machine.

How long should a copier last?

Though their home-use counterparts are likely to see less usage, business copiers tend to have a five-year lifespan. That figure can increase or decrease based on how frequently the machine is used. If you keep up with maintenance and users are kept in check, your machine could last more than five years.

Our Methodology

We sought to evaluate digital copiers designed for small and midsize businesses. Our recommendations are based on manufacturer product specs, online reviews and what we have learned from our readers.

In providing our best pick recommendations, we evaluated copying speed, the duty cycle, pricing, usability and connectivity. We also considered accessibility features, paper capacity and security enhancements, which may be more important for certain industries, such as legal and government sectors.

 

Contracts and Service

You can purchase your printer outright (a capital expense) or lease it (typically an operating expense). Leasing in the printing world is known as "managed print." Copiers can be expensive, and technology advances at a rapid pace, which means newer models are being released with higher-quality technology (and at higher costs). For these reasons, leasing has become more popular. It's what many businesses consider a safe option, allowing them to experience all of the benefits that newer models offer with affordable monthly payments. 

Capital leases give you the advantage of calling your copier a business asset; operating leases deem your copier an (operating) expense. It's also a way to bundle your expenses and more easily control your costs. When you use managed print services, everything – printer, ink or toner, paper, maintenance – is bundled into one monthly price. Leases typically last three to five years. 

However, there are some issues to consider with a lease if you don't take the typical managed print services route. Your copier may require regular maintenance, and you lose some of the benefits of a regular maintenance schedule. On the upside, leasing equipment typically doesn't require a significant down payment. 

If you purchase a copier outright, you don't pay interest. Owning a copier, like owning a car, allows you to keep it for as long as you feel is reasonable, which may result in savings if you own it for a long time and don't feel like you need upgrades every few years. You can also avoid being stuck in a contract. When you purchase outright, you can deduct your copier expense. You're also completely in charge of maintenance, when you upgrade (or don't upgrade) and so on. 

The decision to purchase or lease a copier depends on your cash flow situation and which option benefits you the most in terms of maintenance and service, features, accessories, and supplies. 

Additional reporting by Joanna Furlong.

What to Expect in 2020

In 2020, expect the same big names to dominate the copier market, including companies like Canon, Kyocera, Toshiba and Xerox. Also in the mix for market leaders are companies like Brother International, HP, Konica Minolta, Samsung, Epson and Dell. As they operate in a relatively established industry, these market leaders are unlikely to change much in the future.

As cloud-based technology has proliferated, though, the printer and copier industry has not been immune to the shift toward a digital-first mentality. Modern printers and copiers must exhibit connectivity with digital devices through the cloud, allowing users to print files directly from their mobile devices. Look for this trend to continue, as copiers that emerge in 2020 and beyond without this function are likely to fall behind.

Copiers have also been scrutinized by the movement toward "green" office culture. Expect copier manufacturers to continue to prioritize energy efficiency and recycled materials to reduce their environmental impact in 2020.

February 2020: One of the biggest changes in the copier industry this year is the potential merger of Xerox and HP; whether it's through a hostile takeover depends on who you ask. Since last November, Xerox has been actively seeking the merger with HP, initially offering $33.5 billion in cash and stock options. HP board members turned down the offer, claiming the proposal was considerably below the company's actual value, prompting Xerox to threaten taking a more aggressive acquisition tactic.

Last month, Xerox secured $24 billion in financing from major banks to fuel its $33 billion takeover. Earlier this year, Xerox increased its offer to $24 per share. In response, HP announced it would adopt a "poison pill" plan that would allow all shareholders to buy discounted shares in the event any group attempts to acquire more than 20% of the company's shares, thus diluting the company ownership.

March 2020: Though efforts to complete the merger had been ongoing for some time, Xerox vice chairman and CEO John Visentin announced in a press release earlier this month that the company was suspending its takeover efforts as the world deals with COVID-19. Citing the need to remain focused on the continuing crisis, Valentin said Xerox must "prioritize the health and safety of its employees, customers, partners and affiliates over and above all other considerations, including its proposal to acquire HP."

"As we closely monitor reports from government and healthcare leaders across the globe and work with colleagues in the business community to minimize the spread and impact of the virus, we believe it is prudent to postpone releases of additional presentations, interviews with media and meetings with HP shareholders so we can focus our time and resources on protecting Xerox's various stakeholders from the pandemic," he said.

The company also said the sharp economic declines felt on Wall Street earlier this month did not represent a "failure of any condition to [Xerox's] offer to acquire HP. Xerox will take the same view on any future temporary trading halts, unless otherwise stated in advance."

April 2020: Following up on its plans to halt its HP merger aspirations during the coronavirus pandemic, Xerox partnered with Vortran Medical Technology to bolster the production and distribution of disposable ventilators.

Xerox and Vortran said they expected to produce between 150,000 and 200,000 ventilators a month by June. Further, the two companies said they expected to produce "as many as 1 million ventilators in the coming months," according to officials.

"Our smartest minds met (virtually) with Vortran's smartest minds and figured out how to mass produce this critical technology," Visentin said in a press release. "We want to help make sure doctors, nurses and paramedics on the frontlines have the resources they need to help the rising number of patients with COVID-19."

Xerox's half of the partnership will include manufacturing the FDA-approved and APM-Plus devices at its Rochester, New York, facility, while Vortran will do its part at its current Sacramento, California, location.

"The partnership with Xerox has one clear goal – to help save as many lives as possible ... For all of us, this will be the most important thing we ever do," said Vortran co-founder and CEO Gordon A. Wong, MD.

May 2020: As states around the country reopen some sectors of the economy, copier manufacturers are still working to assist the global COVID-19 response.

In addition to teaming up with other companies to produce ventilators, Xerox announced it is manufacturing hospital-grade sanitizer for American and Canadian frontline healthcare workers. According to a press release, the company is using in-house materials and its capacity for manufacturing to produce "approximately 140,000 gallons of hand sanitizer by June 2020."

The first deliveries of hand sanitizer were expected at the end of April, with production taking place at Xerox’s Toronto and Rochchester, New York, facilities. The sanitizer will be distributed to resellers that were approved to sell directly to healthcare organizations.

Meanwhile, Konica Minolta announced that it would be working to help local communities and business customers "maintain business continuity" during the pandemic.

According to the manufacturer, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. Inc. and its IT services division, All Covered, will provide numerous methods to help solve issues as they come. The company says it will hold training to educate teachers on how to use G Suite and Office 365 to help with remote learning as well as reprogramming their Dremel 3D40 printer to "create and print air-filtering masks." Other efforts include testing its Mobotix Thermal TR cameras at a New York hospital to assess patient symptoms and using Double 2 Telepresence Robots to "enable remote telehealth sessions between doctors and patients."

Andrew Martins: Writer
Andrew Martins,
business.com staff
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I am a former newspaper journalist who has transitioned to strictly cover the business world for business.com and Business News Daily. I am a four-time New Jersey Press Award winner and prior to joining my current team, I was the editor of six weekly newspapers that covered multiple counties in the state.

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