How to Buy Small Business Multifunction Printers - Page 2

By Housen Maratouk
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Lexmark Platinum Pro905 multifunction printer; business printers
The Lexmark Platinum Pro905 inkjet multifunction printer.
(Click for larger image)

Mid-Priced Multifunction Printers

The middle of the pack, predictably enough, spans a wide range of available options. For a couple of hundred dollars, you can expect to buy a more fully featured inkjet AIO that starts up a little faster, prints ever-so-slightly faster, possibly holds more paper in its available tray(s) and can automatically duplex your print jobs.

Just about multifunction printer at this price point can connect to a network, though some connect strictly via Ethernet while others also have wireless capabilities. Move a bit upwards in price, into the mid-hundreds, and you can choose from the highest-end inkjet AIOs and lower-end laser units. The former include models like the Lexmark Platinum Pro905 and the HP Officejet Pro 8500 series while the later include a number of laser printers.

Beyond any speed advantages they might (or might not) have over their inkjet cousins, multifunction laser printers are better suited for higher volumes of printing. Not only can they handle hundreds, or even thousands, of printed pages per month without self-destructing, they do so at a considerably lower cost. Toner cartridges, while not inexpensive, tend to yield far more printed pages than those inkjet cartridges that will eventually bleed you dry.

High-End Multifunction Printers

In this high-priced stratosphere, you'll spend thousands of dollars for high-volume laser black-and-white and color printers. These are meant for organizations that print thousands of pages per month and need a machine that can handle that kind of volume.

Machines at this end of the market tend to have multiple paper trays that accommodate more paper sizes and more total sheets of paper. Laser color printers, meanwhile, allow you to print images at good quality, albeit without the glossiness you can get with inkjet printing.

HP Color LaserJet CM2320 Series multifunction printer; business printers
HP Color LaserJet CM2320 Series multifunction printer.
(Click for larger image)

If money is no object and your print volumes are so high that they eclipse most small business computing needs, you might be looking at something as expensive as the HP LaserJet CM6030/CM6040 series of printers, which are priced near the five-figure range and can print up to 40ppm.

But more likely options include HP's LaserJet CM2320 series and M3035 series (starting at around $700 and $1,600, respectively), Canon offerings like the imageCLASS MF9280cdn ($1,500), and Lexmark's X4** series (costing upward of $1,200). All of these multifunction printers can handle print volumes that few small business computing environments are unlikely to exceed.

Cheaper Does Not Equal Less Expensive

Whatever route you take, don’t base your decision solely on the price of the product. If the product doesn't do what you need it to do, after all, then your money's been wasted no matter what it cost you.

If you buy bigger than you'll ever need, that's money you could have spent elsewhere. And if you buy an multifunction printer designed to handle significantly lower volumes than you'll actually be printing, you'll lose money in supplies, replacement costs and lost productivity than you saved on the price of the printer.

So do yourself a favor: spend the time now to really look at what your needs are today, what you expect them to be tomorrow, and which product will best meet both.

A Sampling of Multifunction Printers

Vendor/Model Inkjet/Laser Connection-type Estimated Price Canon MX320 X1261 Inkjet USB 2.0; no networking options $59.99 Epson Workforce 320 Inkjet USB 2.0; no networking options $79.99 HP Officejet 4500 Inkjet USB 2.0; 10/100 Ethernet; wireless version also available $299.99 Lexmark Platinum Pro905 Inkjet USB 2.0; 10/100 Ethernet; wireless $299.99 HP Color LaserJet CM2320 Series Laser USB 2.0; 10/100 Ethernet Starting at $699.99 Canon MF9280Cdn Laser USB 2.0; 10/100 Ethernet $1,499 HP Color LaserJet CM6030/6040 Series Laser USB 2.0; 10/100/1000 Ethernet Starting at $8,999

Housen Maratouk is a regular contributor at HardwareCentral.com, one of our sister sites on the internet.com network.

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This article was originally published on September 15, 2010
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