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Once there was a big difference between printers and copy machines. Today, the printers used in most offices are digital and have multiple functions. They are used to scan, copy, print, fax, and email documents. These machines can be purchased or rented.
There are advanced models that can store account codes, make two-sided copies, full-bleed prints, and they can sort, staple, or make three-hole punches. There are other machines offering features that improve productivity and lower costs. These features include WiFi, image editing, biometric security authentication, and energy saving capabilities.
The number of copies on the market makes shopping something of a daunting chore. Here is a guide that will walk you through choosing a copier by going over the types available and describing the main features each has as well as providing an overview of the best companies in the business copier sector.
Types of Printers
One question to ask is whether you want a color printer or a black and white one. After you establish this, you can think about the configuration that you want. Choose something that works for the budget you have, the space you have and your main needs.
Small or Home office
These models are made to fit a desktop and conserve space. They can cost as little as $50, but we suggest that you spend somewhere in the $300 to $700 price range. Inexpensive desktop copiers are meant for occasional use and will not meet the daily print needs of most small businesses.
Office copiers can be large enough to cover a table or they can be freestanding units that will be enough to serve many people in the office. These can be networked and have major print, scan, and fax capabilities. You can also print on different paper sizes. These office printers start at $1,200 with high-end machines costing $5,000 and up.
For businesses that need high-volume printing with professional graphics and complex document-finishing options, choose a production printer. These machines provide the high-resolution output that can be as much as 2400 x 1200 dpi for color copies to 9600 x 600 dpi with 8-bit depth for monochrome copies. Production printers vary tremendously in cost based upon various features, but low-end production machines start at $7,000 and go to more than $25,000 for custom models.
Compare Features
Always look at the features that matter most when you compare different copier models.
Print speed
Print speed is a crucial feature to consider when selecting an advanced business copier. Print speed is listed on spec sheets and product packaging as ppm or pages per minute. We feel you should look for at least 27 ppm for small businesses and about 52 ppm for businesses with average daily print needs.
Paper capacity
Spec sheets list this as the tray or cassette. This is where you will find the capacity for paper for each printer along with the sizes of paper that the machine can print out. Be sure the capacity and the sizes are right for you.
Look for a machine that has an automatic document feeder or that has duplex scanning abilities. If you require scanning a huge volume of documents, choose a document feeder machine. The duplex feature makes double-sided scanning possible. Also, check the optical resolution of the scanner if you will need to scan images along with text documents. If you only need basic scanning, 600 pixels is sufficient, but for graphics, you need at least 4800 pixels.
Production printers have a standard resolution of 2400 x 2400 dpi which is a much different graphic spec from office printers. Office printers can suffice with a lower dpi because they usually only scan text documents. On a production printer, color management is a must. Contact a copier company rep if you are not sure of the level your graphic print needs are at. They will ask you what you intend to print from the printer which can be helpful in making the choice to buy one model over another.
Ink and toner
It is highly recommended that you think about how much toner or ink will cost you over the life of the copy machine. Before you buy or lease a machine, be sure that you know how many pages you will get from each cartridge. Find out how much each replacement cartridge costs. You may do well buying third-party ink and toner to save money.
Almost all digital copiers have internal memory that lets them hold onto a number of documents and scans. Internal drives are like computer hard drives. They contain RAM which varies based on the machine’s size, but it can be 256MB to 1.5GB. Storage capacity can vary from 1.5GB to 1TB.
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