Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

The Best Multifunction Printers and Copiers of 2020

By Andrew Martins,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Oct 28, 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 Copier/MFC for Small Businesses
Its smaller size suits most SMBS
Compatible with personal devices
Fully customizable UI
Best Budget Color Copier
Lowest-priced color copier
High resolution
Comes with a year of ink
Most Accessible Color Copier
Multiple hands-free options
Adjustable touch keys
Optional Braille kit available
Highest Duty Cycle
Highest monthly maximum of pages
Fastest print speed
Three-year warranty
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 10/28/20

We've updated the "What to Expect in 2020" section with info about a new remote support tool Konica Minolta is offering customers.

As a staple of most small businesses and offices around the country, multifunction copiers (MFC) have helped companies send, receive, print and duplicate documents for decades. Since these machines take up important real estate in your office, it's important to consider not just its size and weight, but how proficient the copier is at its job when it comes to print speeds, copy and print resolutions, and overall usability. After considering products from 10 of the world's top MFC manufacturers, we compared each device's functionality, price and ease of use to determine our best picks.

Find the Right Multifunction Printer and Copier for Your Business

Fill out this questionnaire to find vendors that meet your needs.
How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
10
Considered
5
Researched
4
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Xerox VersaLink C405 Brother MFC-J6545DW Sharp MX-304W Toshiba e-STUDIO8515A
Size (w x d x h) 24 x 26 x 33 inches, 72 lbs. 22.6 x 18.8 x 12.2 inches, 44 lbs. 19 x 22 x 22.5 inches, 84 lbs. 38 x 28 x 48 inches, 430 lbs.
Copy surface 8.5 x 11.7 inches 11.7 x 17 inches 8.5 x 14 inches 12 x 18 inches
Print speed in pages per minute (ppm) 36 PPM Black and white: 20 PPM; color: 22 PPM 30 PPM 85 PPM
Duty cycle in maximum pages per month (PPMO) 85,000 PPMO 30,000 PPMO 75,000 PPMO 720,000 PPMO
Warranty  1 year of service; extended warranties available 2-year limited warranty and free lifetime support 90 days to the customer 3 years; new replacement is available if copier is not to spec

Our Reviews

The C405 has a tablet-like screen that helps users access controls.
The C405 fits most small business budgets.
Compared to other copiers, the C405 has a relatively lower print resolution.

The Xerox Versalink C405 is our pick as the best multifunction copier for small businesses. With a highly dependable track record, speedy job times, and affordable price point at just under $700, this nimble all-in-one device can simultaneously work in the cloud while remaining a secure endpoint in your business infrastructure.

Built specifically for workgroups of up to 10 users, the Xerox VersaLink C405 is currently available for $699, making it one of the most affordable copiers we examined. As a result of its relatively affordable price tag, Xerox does not offer leasing. The machine comes with a one-year service warranty (with annual onsite service) and is eligible for free service coverage with Xerox eConcierge. Additional extended warranties are available from Xerox.

As with every multifunction copier on our list, additional costs you could incur exist in the form of extra toner cartridges, more paper trays to expand paper feed capacity, and wireless network adapters, since Wi-Fi is optional. According to Xerox, toner cartridges for the C405 cost anywhere from $114 for the standard capacity cartridge (2,500 pages) to $195 for the extra high-capacity toner cartridge (8,000-10,500 pages). To reduce those costs at the time of purchasing a C405, Xerox offers a 10% discount on those supplies.

As a machine built for smaller businesses, the C405 is a color multifunction copier that's as feature-rich as it is diminutive. With a largely non-assuming physical footprint at 24 x 26 x 33 inches and weighing 72 lbs., this machine is one of the smallest ones on our list. Yet, the C405 can produce copy jobs at a decent speed with its 2GB of print memory and 1.05GHz dual-core processor. The C405 has a first-page-out time of up to 10.6 seconds in color and 8.8 seconds in black and white. Pages are copied, scanned and printed at 600 x 600 dpi, which isn't the highest quality we found, but the C405's ability to handle 36 pages per minute in both color and monochrome was near the top of the list. With a duty cycle of approximately 85,000 pages per month, the C405 can run consistently for a long time without running into issues.

When copying, the C405 employs several features that improve job quality, including Automatic Background Suppression, Book Copying with Center Erase, Collation, Darkness Control and Edge Erase. This model is also capable of enlarging a copy between 25% and 400% and making other adjustments as well, with features like image shift, original type, and sharpness.

As far as connectivity and accessibility go, the VersaLink C405 has plenty of options and add-ons to cater to the needs of most businesses. Sporting a 5-inch touch screen with gesture controls, the machine has an app-based, almost tablet-like, navigation style that's instantly familiar to anyone with a smartphone. Since it can pull documents from cloud services like Docushare, DropBox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, the C405 can connect to the web via Ethernet connection or through an optional Wi-Fi kit.

Users who want to copy and print a file from their own devices can do so with this machine, thanks to its high-speed USB 3.0 port, NFC capability and compatibility with Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and the Xerox Print Service Plug-in for Android.

With all its connectivity features, Xerox included some security measures to protect data and network infrastructure. When connected, the machine utilizes AES 256-bit encryption for its data, domain filtering, firmware verification, FIPS 140-2 compliance, network authentication and port filtering, among other protective measures.

Though the VersaLink C405 is a worthy addition to most small businesses, it doesn't fit the bill for larger or expanding businesses. Companies that rely on larger quantities of printed, scanned, copied or faxed documents may want a machine with more RAM, since 2GB may not be enough to handle a heavy workload without experiencing some slowdown. And just like most MFCs that rely on toner, replacement cartridges are an expensive proposition. Consider how much printing you usually do in a month and compare that figure to the yield estimates provided by Xerox so you don't spend a large sum each month.

 

More

Brother MFC-J6545DW INKvestment Tank: Best Color Copier for Businesses on a Budget

This model is extremely affordable without sacrificing functionality.
Brother backs this machine with a two-year warranty.
It sports the smallest touch screen among its peers in this category.

The Brother MFC-J6545DW INKvestment Tank multifunction copier is a supremely affordable machine that can handle pages up to 11 x 17 inches and offer high-resolution prints in a compact unit. Coupled with how easy it is to use and its high-yield ink cartridges, this copier from Brother is an easy choice for small businesses looking to add a copier to the mix without breaking the bank.

As far as business copiers go, prices can start out modest and end up skyrocketing into the tens of thousands of dollars depending on your needs. With an MSRP of $279.99, the Brother MFC-J6545DW is by far the most affordable multifunction copier on our list. Due to the remarkably low cost of this device, Brother does not offer a leasing option, though considering its cost per page comes to pennies on the dollar, that shouldn't be a problem. The MFC comes with a two-year limited warranty with free Brother-At-Your-Side support for the life of the device.

One of the main cost considerations that go into an all-in-one MFC is the constant need to replace ink. As a part of Brother's INKvestment Tank product line, the MFC-J6545DW uses reengineered ink cartridges that last longer than the competition. Super yield replacement cartridges can provide enough ink for up to 3,000 pages and costs up to $65 for a three pack, while its ultra high yield replacements provide ink for up to 6,000 pages and cost $63 per tank. And while most competitors only include a reduced amount of ink to get started, Brother packs a year's worth of ink in its ultra high yield cartridges, along with the machine itself. According to Brother, the included ink can support an estimated 300 pages per month – 60% black-and-white pages and 40% color pages.

To further spread out the need to buy new ink cartridges, this model comes with an ink-saving mode that reduces color darkness and emphasizes any image outlines. Like most features in the MFC-J6545DW, this ink mode, and many others, can be accessed through the machine's 3.7-inch color touch screen. The Brother Page Gauge is another feature that makes the INKvestment Tank stand out. 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.

Small businesses looking for a desktop MFC have a solid choice with the INKvestment tank, since its physical footprint is 22.5 x 18.8 x 12.2 inches and its weight is 44 lbs., making it one of the smallest devices on our list.  Though the printer side of the machine only supports up to tabloid-size paper (11 x 17), it can handle single-pass duplex copying and scanning with the 50-page automatic feeder. Coupled with the standard paper tray capacity of 250 pages and a multipurpose tray of 100 pages, this little machine can handle a lot of different jobs throughout the day.

Though the INKvestment tank can print at a maximum resolution of 4,800 x 1,200 dpi and scan at a max of 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, its onboard memory capacity is small at 128 MB. That low amount of memory could spell slower job times and is reflected in the print times of 22 pages per minute for black and white and 20 pages per minute in color. Copy times are also low at 15 pages per minute for monochrome and 11 pages per minute for color.

What this machine lacks in speed it somewhat makes up for it in its duty cycle. At a maximum of 30,000 pages per month and a recommended duty cycle of 2,000 pages per month, the INKvestment Tank has a higher duty cycle than its price tag would suggest.

Like other MFCs, the J6545DW can connect to the internet either through an Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi. An internet connection is important for this device so it can access files from cloud-based services like Google Drive, OneNote, Box for Business, Evernote and OneDrive. Mobile devices can also interface with the printer via a USB port, as well as NFC wireless technology. Additionally, Brother has its own proprietary cloud apps that work with Android and iOS apps like AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.

Once connected to the internet, the MFC protects the rest of your devices and network infrastructure by conforming with Wireless 802.11 security standards, as well as Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) standards that encrypt data streams as they move through the network.

While this device is a great, affordable little solution that most small businesses will appreciate, that lower price tag comes with some limitations. For instance, the standard memory storage was lower compared to other models, which could become a bottleneck if multiple jobs are sent to the unit concurrently.

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 300 pages per month. If you find your business needing to print more than that amount each month, you will buy ink more frequently, and those costs will add up.

Finally, this model does not have the advanced security features that more expensive models have. It has NFC and cloud connectivity capabilities, but that does not guarantee a fully protected system. Many other models we considered came with protective software, applications, and tools that assure your information is safe and secure.

More

Sharp MX-C304W: Most Accessible Color Copier for Small Businesses

The C304W boasts numerous connectivity and accessibility options.
Sharp's voice-activation features are Amazon Alexa-compatible.
It retails for over $5,000, making it one of the more expensive models.

As tech companies continue to ensure that their products can be used by as wide a range of consumers as possible, features found on the Sharp MX-C304W, like the hands-free functionality and possible Braille kit add-on for the touch screen, allow all workers to handle various day-to-day tasks.

As part of Sharp's Advanced Series, the MX-C304W is a desktop color document system that can be customized to suit your business's needs and the needs of your workers. Due to its highly customizable nature, you'll need to obtain a price quote from one of Sharp's authorized agents. After speaking with a company rep, Sharp estimated that the machine would cost $5,375, though additional add-ons could increase that price. If that initial price tag comes as a shock, Sharp offers a lease through their dealers. The manufacturer also offers a 90-day warranty to the customer.

Along with the initial price point for the C304W, business owners would do well to consider supply costs for this machine. As a laser MFC, this machine requires toner cartridges to operate. These cartridges have an approximately 6,000-page yield and must be purchased from outside retailers. Prices for each toner cartridge range from $33 for black toner and approximately $90 for the separate cyan, magenta, and yellow toner cartridges. A starter set of toner is included in the box.

The Sharp MX-C304W measures 19 x 22 x 22.5 inches and weighs 84 lbs., making it one of the smaller models for this category, but still a decent-sized piece of machinery that small businesses can utilize in a small office. The copier comes with 5GB of shared copy and print memory, as well as a 500GB hard drive to store information in its document filing system.

The MX-C304W has a 100-sheet reversing single-pass feeder and a standard tray capable of holding 300 sheets at a maximum size of 8.5 x 14 inches. With additional tray options, this machine can store up to 2,600 sheets. The scanning and copying resolution is 600 x 600 dpi, with a first copy time for color copies marked at 6.7 seconds and 5.5 seconds for monochrome documents. When running through printing jobs, the C304W operates at a speed of 30 pages per minute with a maximum duty cycle of 75,000 pages in a month, both of which we found to be relatively decent among the printers we examined.

While the C304W is notable for its small-business-friendly office footprint and functionality, its accessibility features set it apart from the other copiers. Thanks to this machine's voice-recognition feature with Amazon Alexa integration, users can conduct basic copy and scan functions in a hands-free, sanitary way. In addition, the available Synappx Go application for Apple and Android mobile devices lets users use a compatible device that they're comfortable using instead of having to spend too much time learning an entirely new piece of equipment.

For wheelchair users and people with limited mobility, this MFC features a tilting front panel with a fully adjustable capacitive function regarding key touch, sound, and speed. Users with limited vision will appreciate the tactile feel of the machine's controls, including the concave home screen key, universal grip for optional paper trays and optional Braille kit for the touch screen.

Like other MFCs, the C304W can connect to the internet either through an Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi. AirPrint and other cloud-based programs like Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox are supported out of the box. This machine supports USB PDF direct print.

Security-minded small businesses will appreciate the C304W's multilayered security features, such as Firmware Attack Prevention and Self Recovery, both of which can identify a malicious intrusion and restore the machine firmware to its original state. The MX-C304W has a built-in whitelisting feature that can detect attempts to access the machine's file system and immediately deny connections not found on the whitelist. IT professionals can also set Authority Groups to help manage and restrict copying, printing, and scanning features to safeguard data and control costs. Other features like Confidential Printing and an end-of-lease feature keep sensitive documents secure by either requiring a PIN to print them or by erasing all data altogether, respectively.

Though this machine is great for small businesses looking to support their employees with disabilities, some limitations should be highlighted. First and foremost is the price – nothing's going to change your mind if more than $5,000 is beyond your budget. Similarly, you may not want to add another monthly cost in a lease. Another issue we found was the somewhat lackluster duty cycle, since other products we looked at in this category had upward of 210,000 pages per month, albeit at a significantly higher price point. The relatively limited number of different paper sizes was worrisome, since other printers can handle bigger document sizes. The size of this MFC's touch screen also left a little to be desired, as the more high-end models had 10.1-inch touch screens.

More

Toshiba e-STUDIO8515A: Copier with the Highest Duty Cycle

Compared to similar machines, the 8515A has the fastest print speeds.
It has the highest duty cycle, with up to 720K pages per month.
Its exorbitant price point will mean you will likely need a lease.

If your small business relies on the fast and consistent flow of documents, a high-duty MFC is likely a worthwhile investment. After considering several models that fit the high-duty mold, we found that the Toshiba e-STUDIO8518A offered the highest output among its competitors, and had a feature set and price tag to match.

At first glance, the 8515A is instantly recognizable as a business-grade MFC. Coming in at 38 x 29 x 48 inches and weighing 430 lbs., this machine is one of the larger models within its group. And with a price tag of $46,680, it's also one of the most expensive machines we considered. Businesses looking to purchase the 8515A can abate the sticker shock by leasing it.

Coupled with the initial cost of the 8515A, business owners have to consider the added cost of supplies. This machine supports a standard paper capacity of 3,520 sheets, with a maximum of 6,020 sheets if using the optional tandem drawer. This MFC is a monochrome printer that relies on toner to mark up each page through its 300-sheet dual-scan document feeder. New cartridges from third-party sellers cost approximately $156 each. Toshiba estimates that each toner cartridge has a page yield of 106,600 pages at about 5% coverage.

As an MFC, the 8515A has scan, print and fax functionality to round out its copying capabilities. Built for small and midsize businesses, the 8515A can finish its first copy in 4.1 seconds, with an overall warmup time of approximately 20 seconds. According to Toshiba, the 8515 can handle up to 9,999 copies due to its 4GB of memory and 320GB self-encrypting hard drive. This machine can conduct 240 duplex scans per minute.

When it comes to printing, the 8515A runs at 85 pages per minute and can churn out up to 720,000 pages per month, making it the fastest and most prolific copier and printer in the group. As far as supported paper sizes go, the 8515A can handle sheets from 3.9 x 5.8 inches and 13 x 19 inches, as well as 12 x 47-inch banners and envelopes. That speed does not compromise quality, too, as it can print at a resolution of up to 3,600 x 1.200 dpi. In each one of its scanning, printing, and copying jobs, the 8515A utilizes Toshiba's patented ASICs to boost clarity and rich text renditions in each instance.

Though usually only offered as an add-on, faxing comes standard with the 8515A if the right landline is supplied. With a modem speed of up to 33.6 Kbps and an option for dual-line faxing, this model can handle 100 jobs and 2,000 destinations when equipped with a hard drive, with a maximum of 400 destinations per job.

Interacting with the 8515A is just as fully featured as some of the other aspects of the machine. Sporting a 10.1-inch tablet-style WVGA touch screen, this control panel is tiltable for varying angles of use and supports remote virtual network computing. The touch screen also has an optional wireless keyboard function to allow for hands-free operation.

With internet functionality being a major selling point for today's MFCs, the 8515A is no different. With a gigabit Ethernet connection and optional Wi-Fi functionality, this MFC can interface with cloud-based services like AirPrint and the Mopria Print Service. Android and iOS users can also use the e-BRIDGE Print & Capture app to interface with the machine. More analog users can utilize the system's USB port to copy and print files directly from a flash drive.

While connected to the internet, the 8515A relies on features like local user authentication; an on-board data scramble function; SCEP, IP address, and MAC address filtering; network service and port control; SSL (HTTP, IPP, LDAP, SMTP, POP, FTP, DPWS) and IPsec (IKEv1, IKEv2) encryption protocols; and various password-protection methods. The system is compliant with the IEEE2600.1 standard in High Security Mode. The hard drive is also secure due to its self-encrypted nature.

When it comes to limitations for this machine, it's hard to list them, because you already know what you're getting into with a high-duty printer like this one. For most small businesses, the 8515A may be too expensive and too big of a machine for their needs. This copier and printer is best suited for an office environment, so any entrepreneurs working from home may need to consider whether the floor space you'll need to commit to this model is worth it. Toner is also an expensive proposition, but its high yield could offset the cost.

More

Pricing

When it comes to pricing out a copier for your office, you need to consider what features you need. Though most MFCs function the same, there are many product lines with varying degrees of functionality. That level of stratification within the copier market means that prices can vary wildly from one machine to another. It's also important to keep in mind other, ongoing costs, including extended service and warranty plans.

Through our information-gathering efforts, we found models that cost as low as $300 for the more budget offerings, while the more high-end machines ran as high as $50,000. While the machines on the higher end had significantly more complex feature sets with a focus on serving niche businesses, many manufacturers offer a lease option to ease the sticker shock.

Ink, Toner and Paper Will Add to Operating Costs

It makes sense that the initial cost of a copier is what commands your attention, but you also need to consider the overall operating costs. As a business owner, you will need to maintain paper and ink supplies regardless of whether the device uses inkjet cartridges or toner.

Replacement ink cartridges come with high price tags, so replacing them on a scale will cost you. Toner tends to last longer but is largely used for monochrome printing only. Some copiers have built-in ink reservoirs that manufacturers say reduce ink costs, since you only need to buy bottles of ink rather than replacement cartridges, and the ink lasts longer. Whether that's a feature you need will depend largely on how often you and your employees rely on the machine.

Remember the Additional Costs

Along with traditional operating costs associated with MFCs, consider the extra costs that come with operating such a machine. Sunk costs that come from poorly constructed or prohibitively slow machines take a toll on a business. It's for that reason that you want to avoid purchasing the cheapest machine; rather, go for the one that fits your budget and can provide the best functionality.

Low-cost machines that seem inexpensive and appear like a benefit can cause problems later. Similarly, factors like copy speed can help or hinder worker productivity and collaboration from an operational perspective. Memory capacity is another factor, since higher memory means the machine will be faster at processing each job.

It's just practical business sense to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before committing to a specific copier. For a copier that will serve as the workhorse for many employees, speed may be the top 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.

Contracts and Customer Service

While you can buy a copier for your business outright, some models have rather large price tags. In those instances, it may be best to lease the machine and add its monthly cost as an operating expense. Known as "managed print" in the printing world, leasing has become a more popular option, since newer models with more advanced features frequently enter the market, pushing even modern machines closer to obsolescence.

Capital leases allow you to claim the machine a business asset, and operating leases permit you to mark the machine as an operating expense. Managed print services generally bundle things like ink or toner, paper and maintenance, into a monthly cost. Most leasing agreements last between three and five years, which is just enough time to consider upgrading to a new machine if you need to.

While leasing may be an attractive option, it comes with some downsides. You may not need to make a large down payment on the copier, but you will pay interest on it, which increases your overall costs.

Conversely, you can keep the copier for as long as you want if you buy it outright, potentially resulting in an overall savings, if you own it for a long time and don't feel the need to upgrade every few years. Buying outright also means you're not tied down to a multiyear contract, allowing you some more flexibility in your decision-making.

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.

Repair Costs

Depending on how you obtain the machine, you may not have to worry about repair and maintenance costs at all. Most leases include some regular maintenance within their terms. In some cases, however, an additional extended warranty or service agreement will be offered for an added cost. What's covered under those plans can vary from one manufacturer to another, so you may be left holding the bag for any repair costs that fall outside of the agreement's terms.

Buying Guide

What Types of Businesses Can Benefit From a Multifunction Printer and Copier?

Multifunction printers and copiers are extremely versatile machines when it comes to creating and distributing documents. As such, it's hard to think of a small business that wouldn't benefit in some way from adding such a machine to their office. Depending on a business's needs, the type of machine may vary.

For example, a small healthcare provider may need an MFP or copier to scan and print patient documents at a moment's notice while using the machine's data security functionality to keep that information safe. At the same time, a small printing company would need a high-duty machine to quickly and reliably output documents.

Because of their highly versatile nature, MFPs have a widespread appeal to small business owners everywhere.

What Features are Critical for a Small Business Multifunction Printer and Copier?

As with most business technology solutions, the features present in certain copiers or MFCs will likely make or break its usefulness to your company. After all, what may work for a design business may not work for an architectural firm. Modern copiers are rife with important features that not only increase their overall efficiency but bring some needed quality-of-life functionality that can help every employee deftly use the machine despite their level of capability.

When deciding on a copy machine to buy or lease, keep the following factors in mind before taking the plunge.

Printing 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 models.

Many copiers offer flexible paper choices, allowing you to easily change paper 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 copies (prints, scans or faxes) 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.

High-speed printing

During our research, we found printing speeds that varied wildly from model to model. If your business needs lightning-fast speeds, look for a higher ppm value associated with the machine. According to our data, the fastest print speed we found was 85 ppm from the Toshiba e-Studio8515A.

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.

Size and Weight

Though multifunction printers and copiers come in varying sizes and weights, most of them can be placed on a desktop. Many of the higher-end or enterprise-focused models can be significantly larger. A machine's size can also be affected by any additional add-ons and accessories added to the machine.

Do not overlook the weight of a copier. How important is portability? For smaller copiers, weight is an important factor if you plan to place it on a desk or if it is 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, touch screens 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.

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.

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-saving modes and are made of recycled plastic. Many manufacturers offer recycling programs for toner cartridges and other accessories or supplies.

Our Methodology

Given the nature of this category, we did not physically evaluate every copier on the market. To provide an in-depth look into today's best MFCs for small and midsize businesses, we reached out to some of the top companies in the industry to see what models best fit our use cases.

Over several weeks, we sought information from Canon, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, HP, Xerox, Sharp, Brother and Toshiba. In our query, we asked each company to provide us detailed specifications to machines that would fit the use cases: Best Copier/MFC for Small Business, Best Color Copier for Small Businesses, Most Accessible Copier and Copier With the Highest Duty Cycle. Each company was given the same criteria to help determine which machines would best fit those use cases.

After compiling the list of devices, we noted the pros and cons of each machine, weighing them against each other. Here are the main criteria we used to evaluate each multifunction printer and copier:

  • Pricing: In most cases, price is the most important factor for small business owners before even looking at the other qualities of a copier. However, we didn't remove a machine from consideration if it had a large price tag. In many cases a leasing option was available, thus making it more affordable for small businesses.
  • Features: The overall functionality of a copier or MFC is what separates one model from another. Duplexing, AI-capable features and internet connectivity are just some features that today's copiers employ.
  • Ease of use: 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 touch screens that mimic the interface of a smartphone and workflow solutions, like scanning or faxing, that are easy to navigate. Ease of use also applies to the system setup and initial user training.
  • Footprint: MFCs are physical machines, so their footprint in an office environment is an important consideration. While some machines are small enough to fit on a desk, they may not have all the features a small business may need. On the other side of the coin, a massive machine can take up too much space in an office, which can cause other problems.
  • Speed: How fast a copier can duplicate and print a document is incredibly important to its overall usefulness in a business setting.
  • Duty cycle: Like most machines with moving parts, copiers generally have an expected monthly allotment of how many pages it can churn out in a month.
  • Accessibility/UI: We evaluated copiers to see if they included helpful features like embossed marks, motion sensors, touch screens, easy-to-use applications and voice control.
  • Connectivity: We assessed the availability of features that allow users to pull files from the internet to duplicate them just as well as physical sheets of paper. We also considered built-in security measures, such as password controls, centralized print policy controls and user-level access to restrict who can use the copier.
  • Warranty: Copiers covered by a strong manufacturer's warranty will help cover those unforeseen incidents and help ensure you have a working machine for the duration of the warranty.

While most of the companies got back to us in time for publication of this review, we did not receive any data from Canon, Ricoh or HP.

Community Expert Insight

Since the world of copiers is so varied, we reached out to small business owners to see which copier brands and models they trusted.

While many businesses use copiers to handle important documents, others rely on them for their entire business model. For Lisa Jaspers, the owner, publisher and graphic artist at stationery business A Country Girl's Life, her 2010 Canon Pixma copier has worked wonders.

"I have a small business that is 100% paper-based. Our little Canon Pixma all-in-one office printer gets a workout every single day with test runs and products that we sell in our online shop," she said. "Since day one I've been impressed with the quality and reliability of this machine. We've had every other major brand at one point or another during the last 20 years, and they've all broken down after about two years."

For Mike Charles, owner of Unified Pest Control, the answer was simple: His office's Ricoh MP C307 ensures that his business's printing needs are sufficiently met.

"The [copier's] footprint is on the smaller size, so it does not take up too much room in our office," he said. "The user interface is very easy to use, and it has been a reliable machine for our needs. Supplies are relatively inexpensive, and our printing costs have actually decreased compared to the HP machine we had before."

While size and reliability mattered for Charles, Xerox's WorkCentre line of copiers received significant praise from the small business owners we heard from. Different people praised the product line's reliability and functionality, with Adam Korbl, CEO of iFax, calling his office's machine a "part of the team" and a "knight in shining armor."

Allan Borch, founder of DotcomDollar.com, praised his office's Xerox WorkCentre 6515 for its ease of use, reliability and data security measures.

"We use smart multifunction printing and copying machines from Xerox," Borch said. "The Xerox WorkCentre 6515 comes equipped with mobile printing functionality, cloud-connected apps, and environmentally friendly features. On top of all of these features, it has a handful of color-management tools ... that [ensure] business collaterals are reproduced in uniform, consistent colors."

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Multifunction Printer?

The term "multifunction printer" is a catch-all term that can be interchangeably used with other terms like "commercial copiers, all-in-one printer and office copier," to name a few. As such, a multifunction printer is a piece of office equipment that can handle various functions outside of just printing. Usually, that means it can also scan, copy, print, upload and fax documents as well. Which functions are available on a model depends on its manufacturer, its product line, and whatever add-ons or upgrades have been installed.

How Do You Install a Multifunction Printer?

These days, most multifunction printers are plug-and-play, meaning you plug in the power and however it will connect to your network, either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, to get started. Manufacturers strive to make their MFPs easy to use, so extensive installation efforts are not only time-consuming but can often lead to high costs if service is needed. Just follow the instructions included with the machine and setup should be simple.

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 better suited 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 cartridges 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 systems that use toner cartridges. Toner-based machines, however, aren't as good at printing images as printers and copiers that use ink. The decision of whether your business should use toner or ink depends on 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.

How do you get rid of an old copier?

There are a couple of ways you can dispose of a copier. One option is to take it to a government-licensed electronics disposal facility. While some municipalities may accept your old copier, there are other sanctioned companies that can dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner.

You can also take it to an e-cycling facility. Millions of items get thrown away every day, with electronics posing a significant threat to the environment due to rare metals and potentially toxic materials that are used to manufacture those machines. Like finding a government-sanctioned electronics disposal location, you will need to do a little research to find these other e-cycling locations.

If your machine still works, you may want to donate it to a local nonprofit, school or other group. Multifunction copiers, especially those suited for small businesses, are pricey, and it can make a significant difference to an organization to receive a working machine as a donation.

Finally, you can check with the machine's manufacturer to see if they have a take-back program. By giving your old machine back to the manufacturer, you can keep the old coper out of a landfill and allow its components to be recycled.

What should you consider when buying a photocopier?

When shopping for a new multifunction copier and printer, there are three factors to consider aside from price: speed, size and resolution.

Speed, which refers to the number of pages the unit can copy and print in a minute, is reliant on the machine's processing power and memory capacity. As you shop for copiers, besides noting the speed of the unit, look for the copier's processing power and memory capacity, and determine whether those two configurations will be sufficient for your printing needs.

The size of your new machine should be a consideration too. How much space you have available for a new copier in your office is finite; think about how much area you're willing to commit to a single piece of equipment. Take measurements of the space in your office where you're considering placing the unit to ensure it will fit. It's also important to consider the weight of a machine.

Last, check the machine's resolution. You don't want to go through the effort of selecting an affordable machine that can quickly churn out pages without taking up a lot of office real estate that produces blurry or illegible prints.

Additional reporting by Brian Nadel.

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 a "green" office culture. Expect copier manufacturers to continue to prioritize energy efficiency and recycled materials to reduce their environmental impact in 2020.

October 2020: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt in-person servicing of office copiers, Konica Minolta recently announced a partnership with ISL Online to create and distribute a tool to facilitate better remote customer service.

The two parties conducted a pilot phase of the remote support tool this year.

"We can effectively resolve as many as 80% of all issues remotely with ISL Online," said Jörg Sitzlack, technical manager for IT Managed Services at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe.

Under the provided packages, resellers and distributors can have an unlimited number of supporters with a limit of one active session at a time.

Further support for resellers and distributors is coming in the release of an open beta version of additional remote visual support software AIRe Link. By addressing issues without having to send a technician to a physical location, Sitzlack says costs have gone down, making the service more affordable.

Konica Minolta said it has long offered remote support to its direct customers – it estimated that more than 70,000 remote sessions were conducted in 2019.

Andrew Martins
Andrew Martins,
business.com Writer
See Andrew Martins's Profile
I am a former newspaper editor 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.

community answers

Have a question related to color copiers?
Get advice for your business with experienced experts in our community.
Ask The Community
What do you look for in a printing company?
21 Responses
Bernadette Boas
Bernadette Boas
Answered
I look for relationship, reliability, flexibility, and timeliness to delivery - long before price. Cheapest price does not always mean business. What are your core values, what is important to you to provide to your customers, etc...I ask this because, for example...as a consultant, coach - with tons of us out there, I could deliver on my core values and go inexpensive..but that is devaluing my work, and customers will see that - therefore it works against me - it certainly doesn't work for...
More
What information do you look for from a printer's website when researching a print vendor?
3 Responses
Liz Wilson
Liz Wilson
Answered
The professional print companies I have used, when working for a design team for a corporation, have always been local. It's very important to be able to visit the facility, deal with the employees face to face, and of course their equipment. Being able to physically show your printer what you want as a finished product is key. I spent a lot of time creating comps on our Xerox machines and then driving to the shop to show the printers what I want. As a designer, it's really important to be able...
More
Join the business.com community.
  • Tap into our network of business professionals to help achieve your goals.
  • Get reliable advice on the direction to take your business.
  • Find dedicated experts to scale your business.
How to print labels and what do I need to make packaging and shipping my products from home easier?
7 Responses
Rick Silver
Rick Silver
Answered
Hi Alice, Printing labels is trivial in many programming languages, including Java and C which would run on a Mac. There are however a number of variables to be taken into consideration, pertaining to the layout, data source and interface to the printer's driver. I see that Etsy has an option, that you may already be aware of, for printing USPS labels purchased from them at : https://www.etsy.com/help/article/3148 By the way, I checked out your store there, cool jewels.
More
What do I need to know about 3D printing before starting a business?
5 Responses
JC Quek
JC Quek
Answered
I like to highlight this: 1. Clarify startup business ideas - to sell 3D printers or to use 3D printers to provide services or to rent 3D printers or to run other business but using 3D printers to enhance the results. 2. I suppose you wanted to use 3D printers to provide services - this is the most capital intensive model. Different targeted customers required different types of 3D printers and material investment will be onerous if the mixture of customers are not correct. 3. 3D business...
More
Image Credit: A stockphoto / Getty Images
Back to Top
Back to Top