The sheer range of business 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.
Here are the best 10 printers for businesses - as chosen by the Techradar Pro team - large and small, from a basic monochrome lasers suitable for a small business and a home office through to a small departmental multifunction printer.
1. Ricoh SP-213w
The notion of the large, expensive laser printer should have long been dispelled and if nothing else can do that then the Ricoh SP 213W 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 monthly duty cycle of 20,000 pages per month, a 1200 x 600dpi print resolution and a print speed of up to 22 pages per minute, its small size shouldn't hide the fact that this could be a little workhorse. Beyond these basics, the Ricoh SP-213W offers manual duplex, a Print&Scan mobile app, support for PCL and a two-year pan-European warranty.
2. Ricoh SPC-240DN
There was a time when colour printing was prohibitive and a time, not so long ago, where colour laser printing was exorbitant. That has fortunately changed with the likes of the Ricoh SPC-240DN doing their best to bring prices down. This is a massive printer at nearly 24Kg so you will need to have a strong back and enough desk space to take it onboard.
Its starter toner kit will produce around 1000 pages and probably better than inkjet ones which dry out with time. It can print up to 16 pages per minutes (colour or mono) and has a duty cycle of 30,000 pages per month. It offers both Ethernet and USB ports and, with a 250-pages input paper tray, has enough to make a small office pleased. At 600 x 600 dpi, its print resolution though may leave some wanting for more.
3. Ricoh SP204SN
Ricoh gets a third printer into our shortlist with the SP204SN. Like its siblings, it offers a lot of features for not a lot of money including a two-year warranty as standard. It's hard to believe that for less than £50, you can get a multi-function printer that can print at up to 23 pages per minute at 600 dpi with a flatbed 1200 dpi scanner and a 150-sheet paper tray.
No, it doesn't offer colour printing, automatic duplex (only manual) or faxing capabilities. However, it makes up for it with a 99-copies feature, an Ethernet port, a USB 2.0 host port, an all-in-one print cartridge technology and a 2-line LCD screen.
4. HP PageWide Pro 477dw
The HP PageWide Pro 477dw isn't going to win any design awards but what it lacks in aesthetics it really does make up for in functionality and speed. This entry-level office multi-function inket 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 (including Wi-Fi Direct and NFC).
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 55ppm is stunning for this class of printer, particularly since it costs well under £300. The inclusion of a 50-sheet automatic document feeder adds to an all round excellent paper handling capability. Its ability to multitask with print and copy jobs nicely complements the large touch-capable control LCD screen.
* Note that the price includes a £80 cashback
5. Epson Ecotank ET-4550
Consumables are usually expensive when it comes to printers. So it is quite surprising that one vendor, Epson, single-handedly decided to challenge that status quo by allowing users to refill their printer using ink bottles.
What's even more surprising is that Epson includes two years of ink with the package; no more expensive cartridges and instead, you have enough material to deliver 11,000 pages worth of black and colour inks (that's 700ml worth of liquid).
Oh and there's even a three-year warranty making it a great choice for bean counters fixing the TCO of their printers. The ET-4550 lacks the features found on cheaper competitors; it is relatively slower (although it has a higher printing resolution) and has a small paper input tray.
6. Ricoh SG-2100N
Ricoh makes it four in our shortlist with the SG-2100N, a sub-£30 printer that brings together the best of inkjet and laser technology. It delivers the sort of performance usually associated with devices costing three times its price.
A water insoluble, viscous ink combined with a higher-than-average print resolution and a print speed – 29ppm - that surpasses anything at this price range (albeit in draft) make of that Ricoh printer, one of the best printers on the market for very small offices.
Other features worth noting are manual duplex capabilities, a two-year onsite warranty (parts and labour), a well thought design, affordable consumables cost, an Ethernet port and a generous input paper tray.
7. HP Officejet 7110 Wide Format ePrinter
Not the newest or the brightest printer in the list but it is – by far – the most affordable business-ready A3 printer on the market. For professional large format printing, this sub-£100 printer delivers some head-turning features like Wi-Fi direct printing, a 250-sheet paper tray, borderless printing and even an Ethernet port.
It is also surprisingly fast at up to 32ppm in draft mode, dropping to 8ppm when printing at 1200 x 600 dpi. With a three-year warranty (for a limited period) and a recommended monthly print volume of 800 pages, it is a great complement to a monochrome printer in an environment requiring maximum flexibility from an inkjet and capable of delivering great colour prints when needed.
8. Dell C1760NW
This is a colour laser printer, plain and simple. It has a relatively small footprint on the desk thanks to a surprisingly compact design. The printer is fitted with a 150-sheet main paper tray and a 100-sheet output tray, with an integrated drum/fuser unit and manual duplexing capabilities.
Controls are adequate, with a two-line LCD display and a number of buttons for basic menu navigation. The C2660DN also offers an Ethernet connector, 802.11n Wi-Fi and a USB 2.0 port; no USB host connectivity. The printer is aimed at office or small workgroups and has a high-rated speed of 15ppm for black and colour. This is a good colour workhorse for everyday print, where colour isn't a major part of the mix.
9. Brother MFC-L8650CDW
This is a heavyweight colour laser multifunction intended for small business or workgroup use. Its slabby black and white design is functional and includes a large touchscreen for control, though the printer is only rated up to a recommended 3000 pages per month. It includes a 50-sheet automatic document feeder which handles duplex scans and the printer offers duplex copying and printing as well; a welcomed surprise!
It's rated at 28ppm for both black and colour prints dropping to about seven sheets when printing in duplex. It can handle input from USB, Ethernet or via wireless link, with support for iOS and Android mobiles. A USB port offers scanning to and printing from USB drives.
* Note that the price includes a £100 cashback
10. Brother HL-S7000DN
If only the fastest printer will do, then consider the HL-S7000DN. Surprisingly enough, it is an inkjet printer rather than a laser one. Fast enough to print out the entire content of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) in about 20 minutes at the speed of 100 pages per minute (that's roughly 500 words per second).
If your needs are less ambitious, then the 500-sheet capacity of its input and output tray should suffice. There's also a 100-sheet multipurpose tray to accommodate other media types. As expected, it prints at a resolution of 600 x 600 dpi, has a Gigabit Ethernet LAN port, Wi-Fi and a USB 2.0 port. Its maximum monthly duty cycle, 275,000 pages or 16 A4 reams printed every day, should satisfy even the busiest offices.
How to buy a business printer
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.
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