Despite mass digitization and content management technology, businesses still have a need for multifunction digital copiers. The best business digital copiers deliver professional-grade presentations, help to create compelling meeting materials on demand and make it easy to produce collateral of all kinds in-house. When these needs arise, it makes sense for most businesses to have the capability in-house, allowing them to save both time and money, especially when copying must be done at scale.
Today's copiers often come in the version of a multifunction printer, also known as an all-in-one. These machines offer the ability to copy, print, fax and scan from one machine. Users can quickly print files and create copies from the same device. Many modern color copiers can track usage to reduce unnecessary printing and copying. Advanced machines tend to come with a digital touchscreen display, wireless accessibility and other user-friendly features
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Business copiers come in a range of dramatically different price points and configurations. Even for SMBs, color copier needs vary widely. One business may need to make the occasional mailing, while another may require vibrant presentation materials every week or seek to implement cost controls. Sophisticated color copier models may be used to create small booklets, brochures or even binding.
You'll notice that color copiers use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) colors, whereas monitors use RGB (red, green, blue). These are two different ways of showing colors. The letters stand for the color mixing required to create more colors. The core difference is that CMYK is used for print media, whereas RGB is used for technology such as monitors and televisions.
When choosing a copier, businesses first need to consider their functions, and then just how high the demand may be. They must ask themselves what their monthly usage will be, what types of projects the copier will be used for, and who will be using the machine. From there, the copier speed, price (including supply and maintenance expense), and volume will guide your decision.
Read all our reviews of the best copiers below.
Sharp MX-4070V Review
Canon ImageRunner Advance C5535i II Review
Ricoh MP C4504ex Review
Konica Minolta bizhub C454 Review
Kyocera TASKalfa 4551ci Review
Toshiba e-STUDIO3555C Review
Brother MFC-L9570CDW Review
HP PageWide Enterprise Color Flow Review
Lexmark CX725de Review
Xerox AltaLink C8035 Review
Copiers are a sizable investment for an SMB. The machines can range dramatically in price, and many printing companies offer numerous configuration options, allowing you to customize your machine to meet your business's unique needs. Other issues that affect pricing are service and warranty plans, and capital expenses such as supplies (toner, ink and paper). Because copiers are such a large investment for most companies, you will typically have options to buy or lease your color copier, and there are pros and cons to each purchasing method.
The price of a copier is far more complex than just comparing sticker prices. Companies should budget for capital expenses that fold into the copier's operating costs, such as paper and ink (toner or inkjet). But beware: even these costs can be misleading. For example, inexpensive inks or printer parts may seem like a benefit, but if they cause problems down the line, such as leaks or machine slowdowns, then the company is going to be spending money to fill those performance gaps. In other words, what may seem affordable on the front end could wind up being incredibly expensive down the road.
From an operational perspective, factors like copy speed can feed into or prohibit worker productivity and collaboration. The same goes for printers that constantly require maintenance or repair – those issues also hinder productivity. Additionally, in recent years, with more businesses becoming concerned about sustainability and environmental responsibility, energy use has come into play as an important factor for many business buyers. The same goes for features such as two-sided printing (duplexing), which affects both cost and waste output.
Your organization must conduct your own cost-benefit analysis before committing to a printer. For printers that many groups of employees will rely on, speed may be the No. 1 factor. For design-centric businesses, such as ad agencies or architectural firms, ink cost and image quality may trump everything else.
We sought to evaluate digital copiers targeted to small and midsize businesses or entry-level enterprises. While, ideally, we would review copiers in person, due to practical considerations like cost, configuration and size of machines, these reviews are hands-off and based entirely on manufacturer product specs. We researched and reviewed many popular copiers, and we've detailed our assessments below to help you narrow your color copier search.
We looked primarily at copying speed, volume, pricing, usability and connectivity. We also considered features such as security enhancements, which may be more important for certain industries, such as legal and government sectors.
What Features Do You Need to Consider?
Speed counts when it comes to copiers. No one likes long waits at the copier, and for organizations that have a larger seat count and thus a higher demand placed on their machine, the difference in speed between various machines can add up. Speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm). Often, people associate color printing and copying with longer wait times, but 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.
The paper-size spec is all about functionality, ensuring your machine can accomplish what you need it to do. 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 timesaver. 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. This process can be incredibly time-consuming, resulting in frustrated users and costly errors along the way.
Paper Capacity and Duty Cycle
When reviewing business copiers, you'll see a number for monthly duty cycle in the manufacturer specs. This is the number of pages that your color copier can successfully print each month. Just like speed, this can greatly affect busy offices and large workgroups that rely on a printer to consistently meet a large demand. 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.
Ease of Use
Many people will be using and sharing your copier, and those people 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 a smartphone interaction, content workflow solutions like scanning, and searchable file formats. Ease of use also applies to the system setup and initial user training. You'll want to avoid copiers that require extensive setup – plug-and-play functionality is important.
In addition to a printer's user interface, you may want to consider its size and weight. Before purchasing, consider where you will place the copier and whether it's in a central location, easily accessible to all employees. 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.
In today's world of multiple devices and the cloud, it's generally considered that the more options your digital copier offers for connections, the better. USB connection is still standard, but modern machines also 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 their 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.
In the age of the cloud and IoT, security has risen as an important factor in office accessories such as copiers.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; IT organizations view them as another endpoint, vulnerable to the same threats as laptops, mobile phones and data centers. Manufacturers are responding to this trend by building in security from the start.
Contract and Service
You can purchase your printer outright (a capital expense) or choose to lease it (typically an operating expense). Leasing in the printing world is referred to as "managed print." Copiers are expensive, and technology advances at a rapid pace. For these reasons, leasing has spiked in popularity: It's what many businesses consider a safe option, allowing them to experience newer models at 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 in all 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 are typically 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 control of that maintenance schedule. Many contracts stipulate when you get maintenance and what for. On the upside, leasing equipment typically doesn't require a down payment or initial fee.
On the other hand, purchasing a copier outright also has its benefits. For example, it saves you the expense of fees and 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.
When you purchase outright, you can deduct your copier expense. You're also completely in charge – of maintenance, of when you upgrade (or don't upgrade) and so on.
Your business must decide what the impact on your cash flow will be, and if you can afford to purchase a copier – which may be several thousand dollars – versus leasing, which would afford you more of a cash-flow cushion.
Common Color Copier Questions & Answers
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...Read More ▼
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...Read More ▼
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.Read More ▼
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...Read More ▼
List of 14Best Copiers of 2018
HP Officejet Enterprise X585z
The HP Officejet Enterprise X585z used to be a top color copier, but has been discontinued.
Konica Minolta bizhub C454
Read our unbiased review of Konica Minolta bizhub C454. See how Konica Minolta bizhub C454 compares to the best Color Copiers.
Kyocera TASKalfa 4551ci
Read our unbiased review of Kyocera TASKalfa 4551ci. See how Kyocera TASKalfa 4551ci compares to the best Color Copiers.
The Lexmark X740de was a top model, but is used much less frequently in 2018.
Read our unbiased review of Toshiba e-STUDIO3555C. See how Toshiba e-STUDIO3555C compares to the best Color Copiers.
Xerox WorkCentre 7535
Read our unbiased review of Xerox WorkCentre 7535. See how Xerox WorkCentre 7535 compares to the best Color Copiers.
Midsize workgroups that have high volume demands for printing and copying should consider the Brother MFC-L9570CDW all-in-one color copier.
HP PageWide Enterprise Color Flow MFP 586z
The HP PageWide Enterprise Color Flow MFP 586z copier is a great choice for larger small businesses with high-volume demands.
Have a large workgroup and need a fast and easy-to-use multifunction digital copier? Consider the Lexmark CX725de.
Xerox AltaLink C8035
The Xerox AltaLink C8035 digital copier could be ideal for large workgroups that need to multitask printing and copying.
Canon ImageRunner Advance C5535i II
The ImageRunner Advance C5535i II is a top-of-the-line color copier that any midsize or enterprise-level business can benefit from. It offers quality image production without sacrificing speed, so your business can get work done.
Ricoh MP C4504ex
The Ricoh MP C4504ex is a color multifunction laser printer. It comes with different accessories so you can choose the configuration that fits your business best. It's an ideal copier for companies with heavy production loads.