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.
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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.
1/ Samsung ML-2165W
From £50 ex VAT
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.