How to Choose an All-in-One Printer
There is certainly no lack of options available on AIOs, but these options can sometimes be confusing to buyers. To figure out what you really need (and don’t need) from an AIO, it’s useful to go through the functions one by one.
Printer and Copier
Printing and copying are typically the most important AIO functions for small businesses. When considering machines, here are the specs to keep in mind:
- Speed: Print speed is expressed as pages per minute (ppm). Ppm is interchangeable with copies per minute (cpm) and outputs per minute (opm). A general pricing rule is: the faster a machine’s print speed, the more expensive it is. Print speed, however, varies among black and white outputs and color outputs. And speaking of color printing…
- Color: AIOs that print in color cost more than those that print only in black and white (monochrome), plus they have higher operating costs (due to cartridge replacement), so it’s worth asking whether your business truly needs to print color documents. If your color needs are minimal, consider buying a color laser printer, which has considerably lower operational costs than inkjet printers. You can read more about the laser vs. inkjet debate here.
- Volume: The monthly print volume (or duty cycle) of an MFP refers to how many pages it can print in a month without risking damage. To determine the required output, take your current monthly printing volume and add 15 to 25 percent to account for overage and future growth.
Most MFPs provide low to medium resolution document scanning. If you need high resolution scanning of media such as photos, slides, or negatives, look for an MFP with photo-scanning capability or consider purchasing a standalone scanner. Also, if you plan to use network scanning, make sure an MFP includes this feature.
Standalone faxing—using the MFP fax function through the keypad—should be a given. PC fax—sending faxes from individual computers—isn’t a given, but is a desirable feature for many businesses.
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Aside from the basic MFP function described above, businesses should also consider following features:
- Scan to email (sending scanned items directly from the device to email recipients)
- Automatic document feeder (makes it easier to scan, copy, fax, and email multi-page documents)
- Automatic duplexing (2-sided copying/printing/scanning/faxing)
- Network connectivity (for connecting to a LAN)
- Memory (more memory improves performance, especially with large files)
MFC All-in-One Printer Costs
- Home office printer-scanner-fax MFCs start between $100 and $300. In this price range you might find a machine that prints at under 20 ppm, has a duty cycle of 20,000 sheets, is wireless, and supports print, copy, scanner, and fax functions.
- Small business all-in-ones start at a cost of $750 to $1,500 (expect up to 40 ppm, 60,000 to 75,000 page duty cycle, and networking functions). However, fully loaded printer scanner fax MFCs with print speeds of 20 to 40 ppm can cost as much as $3,000 to $13,000.
- Above 40 ppm and 75,000 pages per month, multi-function copiers can cost $15,000 to $30,000.
- MFCs with print speeds of 50 to 75 ppm and duty cycles above 200,000 images can cost$35,000 to $70,000+.