Small Business Guide to Multifunction Printers - Page 2

By Paul Mah
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Best Small business Multifunction Printer Features

4. Advanced Support for Scanning

In a non-network deployment, where a small business multifunction printer connects directly to a PC workstation, the driver software usually saves scanned documents within a predefined folder. Things get more complicated in a networked environment however, and the user experience may vary widely depending on a particular vendors’ implementation.

To avoid having to install yet another software utility onto a dozen or more workstations, it may be better to keep an eye out for the presence of advanced scanning support, such as the capability to automatically upload scanned documents to a predefined FTP location.

guide to small business multifunction printers

Alternatively, some multifunction printer models may also send out scanned documents via email as PDF attachments, with destination email addresses either keyed in at the point of scanning or selected from a preprogrammed address book. Indeed, some may also be able to forward incoming fax transmissions as digital PDF documents that are then emailed to a predefined email account.

5. Laser or Color Printing Capability

It is hardly a secret that printer companies rake in their profits from the sale of consumables such as toner or ink cartridges. With this in mind, we strongly advocate the use of a laser printer when it comes to choosing a small business multifunction printer. Due to their inherently higher operational costs, and the fact that liquid ink can dry up over time, you should avoid multifunction inkjet printers unless you have an extremely compelling business reason to use them.

Of late, multifunction printers with color laser capabilities have appeared on the market. These typically make use of different toner canisters for the three primary colors as well as a separate cartridge for black, which helps to reduce printing costs. On the flip side, it should be noted that color multifunction printers are significantly more expensive than their black-and-white-only cousins.

If color printout capability is important to your business, you may find it more cost effective to purchase a black-and-white multifunction printer and a separate color laser printer – which shouldn’t cost much more than the same price of a color multifunction printer.

6. Driver Support

Finally, one less-obvious feature is the quality of device driver software for your small business multifunction printer. Some printer manufacturers are more aggressive than others about ensuring that their printers are well-supported on the primary computer platforms such as Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. With Windows 8 just round the corner, it becomes even more imperative that businesses choose a vendor that will furnish an updated driver to work on the new operating system.

Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on July 11, 2012
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