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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.