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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.