Best business printers : 5 top printers for your office
5 top printers for your office
The sheer range of printers is bewildering and with the many manufacturers in the market after your money, making the right decision can be tough. It's doubly tough when you realise why there's so much competition; the real money is made on the many consumables your business will be purchasing to maintain that new printer purchase. What might initially seem modest costs can soon add up over time.
So where do you need to start? Even the most modest of offices will likely be networked and sharing a resource as useful as a printer is an essential. So you should only be looking at printers that are capable of networked use. Wired offers speed and robust function for a fixed office. Wireless is flexible, cheap to deploy but not as fast in use.
Multi-function features can be found across the board and at all cost scales. Basic features start with USB Key and card readers for PC-free printing, moving to scanner and copier functions. At the higher end automatic document feeders (ADF) can manage 50 copies in a single go and produce booklets including duplex printing, stapling and folding. Often the basic ADF features will accommodate most medium-sized offices.
In the past there has been a marked difference in Cost Per Page (CPP) between lasers and inkjets but in recent years inkjets have managed to drop their prices to compete. Either way it's important you carefully assess the CPP of each device. Manufacturers measure the toner or cartridge yields with an industry standard ISO rating. So you can safely assess the total price of replacing all the cartridges or toners divided by the print yield across all the potential models.
The total volume of prints you're going to make also needs to be taken into account. Devices often quote a "duty cycle" monthly maximum and recommended figures. These are the total number of prints it's designed to handle per month. If possible assess the number of prints per employee for the office and ensure the device is capable of meeting your current and future demands.
Finally in the past colour especially for laser printers has demanded a premium, that's not so much the case these days. However these models are still more expensive due to the additional materials required for the toners and printer manufacture. There's still a big enough differential that if you don't need regular colour you should opt for a mono model, perhaps using a cheaper inkjet or even out-of-house printing for occasional colour requirements.
Here ordered upwards in price, are the top ten printers for businesses large and small, from a basic monochrome lasers suitable for a small business and a home office through to a small departmental multifunction printer.
The notion of the large, expensive laser printer should have long been dispelled and if nothing else can do that then the Samsung ML-2165W will. This small-footprint mono printer costs less than many inkjets but has the capability to provide basic wireless-based print services to a home office or smaller office.
With a rating for up to 10,000 pages per month and an A4 print speed of up to 20 pages per minute its small size shouldn't hide the fact that this could be a little workhorse. Its biggest main limiting factor is the single 150-sheet paper tray.
The single consumable is the drum and toner cartridge that comes with a 1,500 page yield.
With an equivalent 1200 dpi printer output it makes a good job of producing clear, crisp text in no time. The single consumable is the printer toner that comes in 1500 page yield capacity. These are well priced and easily replaced. Beyond these basics the Samsung ML-2165W has little to offer, which does limit its appeal even for home office users never mind a smaller sized office.
HP LaserJet Pro M1217nfw
The HP LaserJet Pro M1217nfw isn't going to win any design awards but what it lacks in aesthetics it really does make up for in functionality. This entry-level office multi-function mono laser printer offers all the standard print, copy, scan and fax features you'd want to see in an office workhorse. Add to that wired Ethernet networking alongside wireless networking and it has all the connectivity too.
Suited to the home and smaller small office, it has a conveniently compact footprint, until you open its paper trays to print. A top speed of 18ppm is good for this class of printer, particularly since the machine gets close to that speed under test. Its basic, 150-sheet paper tray has no dust cover, though, and the output tray sticks out in a fairly easy-to-knock way.
Making up for this is the inclusion of a 35-sheet automatic document feeder, its ability to multitask with print and copy jobs and the low running costs. Print quality is also excellent in terms of both its text and greyscale images. Oddly for HP the built-in controls are somewhat lacking, with just a two-line LCD display.
Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4535DWF Inkjet Multifunction
One of Epson's range of small business inkjet multifunctions, this machine really can out-perform an equivalent colour laser in several important ways. Whether you look at feature set, speed or running costs, there aren't many lasers at this price that come close.
This machine gives a genuine 13ppm on long documents and, what is more impressive, 8.5 sides per minute when printing duplex, over double the duplex speed of most sub-£200 colour lasers. Paper handling comprises both a 250-sheet main tray and an 80-sheet rear tray, suitable for envelopes or photo paper. The Automatic Document Feed is also duplex, so it can copy double-sided in a single pass.
Three different yields of ink cartridge are available and the highest yield gives a print cost of 1.8p for black and 5.0p for colour. These are cost levels well below those of colour lasers and the printer has the further advantage of being able to print on glossy photo paper.
Full fax functionality is built in, with 60 quick dials, and the machine offers wireless, Ethernet and USB connections. The front-panel USB socket will output scans, but can't be used to print from, one of this machine's few missed tricks.
Canon i-SENSYS MF4890dw Mono Laser Multifunction
Canon doesn't sell as many laser printers and multifunctions as HP, but it does, of course, make their print engines. Pretty much the same gear is used in the company's equivalent models and they're often slightly cheaper, too.
Canon's i-SENSYS MF4890dw is aimed at the small business market and includes a couple of unusual extras for a printer in this price bracket. For a start, it has a duplex scanner, as well as a duplex print engine, so it can produce two-sided copies in a single job.
A 250-sheet paper tray is supplemented by a single-sheet special media slot and the feed tray has a cover, to protect against spillages. The printer offers USB and Ethernet connections, but also supports wireless, with WPS setup for quick connection. Canon provides a print App for iOS and Android phones, too, giving easy print from a variety of mobile devices.
The printer is rated at 25ppm and we saw over 21ppm under test, a good speed for this class of multifunction. The 50-sheet ADF gave fast scan speeds too, including when copying duplex. Print quality is good for text, but only fair on greyscales, where some darker shades have a tendency to black out.