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Best digital copiers: top photocopiers for businesses, small and big

Canon i-Sensys MF735Cx
Image credit: Canon

In this guide to the best digital copiers of 2020, we'll help you pick the very best photocopier - which digital copiers are also known as - for your needs.

Modern offices often need digital copiers, even if you may feel they are a bit archaic these days. In this guide to the best digital copiers, we'll show you that these are as cutting edge and feature-packed as many of the other devices in your workplace.

As well as standalone digital copiers, there are also affordable multifunction printers (MFPs) that combine printing and scanning functionality in one device, and slash the cost of producing printouts using inkjet or laser technologies

At the same time, MFPs have made significant improvements both in terms of quality, value for money and onboard features.

From usage tracking to improve security, auto duplex, mobile and wireless printing or digital touchscreen display, there’s now a flurry of options available on the market, for the occasional print out and mailing all the way to digital agencies.

What to consider when buying a photocopier?

Below are five points to consider when putting together your checklist

1. Can the photocopier your business is considering handle the capacity needed?

Photocopiers in the shape of multi-function printer come in all shapes and sizes. Many are aimed at the domestic market. Look closely at the stated capacity and match this to your business' workload.

2. How important is quality of scanning and printing?

Many of the latest photocopiers using advanced print technologies that were, up until a short time ago, only found in high-end printers. If possible, look at samples of print and scanned output before making your choice. Many vendors now offer the option of sending samples by post.

3. Is fax capability needed?

Fax is far from a dead communications medium, with many large businesses still needing it. Look at the fax capability of the MFP, which today is likely to use the cloud as well as direct dial to another fax machine.

4. Will your company need to manage sensitive information?

Access to the features of a photocopier should be controlled with PIN numbers or passwords. Also, ensure that the MFP only prints the required copies to ensure data security. And think about whether the USB port should be disabled to mitigate any risk.

5. Does your business require remote printing?

With the rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), printing from mobile devices is fast and efficient. Look closely at the apps that will use the photocopier to ensure these connect securely. An MFP can be a cost-effective asset that a business can build its workflow around. 

With digital copiers now coming with a number of configurations, it's critical to assess your business' needs and match them to the right one.

What is the price of a digital copier?

The cost of acquiring a printer can be dwarfed by the cost of purchasing the consumables - the toner or ink, but also the paper, the drum, transfer/fuser kit - and the cost of the warranty plans or after sale services. And because you are likely to have one copier embedded within a group in an office or in a business, downtime can prove costly and counterproductive.

Enlisting the help of a managed print service provider (MPS) can simplify the technicalities associated with operating a copier, especially in bigger businesses, as they take care of the lifecycle of the printer including its disposal at the end of life. Like a car lease, you will usually not own the printer after the lease ends (up to five years) and can usually pay a fixed fee for the printer plus an agreed cost per page.

The best copiers

Below are the top 10 digital copiers that target small and midsized businesses and generally enterprises below 1,000 employees based on the manufacturer specifications sheet and the suggested retail price at the time of writing.

(Image credit: Jim Hill)

1. Xerox WorkCentre 6515

Sophisticated laser photocopying, at a price

Category: 4-in-1 colour inkjet printer | Print speed: 28ppm | Paper sizes: up to A4 | Paper capacity: 300 | Weight: 30/7kg

Sophisticated touchscreen 
Feature rich printing 
Not the fastest Xerox
Limited paper capacity 

By Xerox standards, this is a modest machine, but it has an impressive specification that will meet the demands of any small to medium sized business. Xerox makes faster printers than this, but the consistent quality of colour and mono prints here is impressive and its photocopying skills are among the best of any four-in-one we’ve tested. The intuitive touchscreen interface is another plus point that gives easy access to a wealth of features such as dual-sided scanning and a broad selection of security features. This feels like a premium product and it’s well supported by modular upgrades.  

Read the full review: Xerox WorkCentre 6515

(Image credit: Canon)

2. Canon i-Sensys MF735Cx

Fast and fully-featured laser AOI

Category: 4-in-1 colour inkjet printer | Print speed: 27ppm | Paper sizes: up to A4 | Paper capacity: 250 | Weight: 26.5kg

Fast print speed  
Excellent photocopier
Noisy in operation 
Insensitive touchscreen    

Canon is aiming this mid-priced device at the small to medium sized business by loading it with key features and giving it a fast photocopy speed. There’s room for 250 sheets of paper in the main tray, plus 50 more in the multipurpose tray. It makes a fine photocopier with dual-sided scanning and duplex printing and makes it easy to print and scan via the cloud thanks to Canon’s helpful companion app for iOS/Android devices.

Read the full review: Canon i-Sensys MF735Cx

(Image credit: Jim Hill)

3. Lexmark MB2236adw

A scaled down photocopier for the SMB

Category: colour laser multifunction device | Print speed: 23ppm | Paper sizes: up to A4 | Paper capacity: 251 | Weight: 26.8kg

Strong security  
Crisp colours
Not very fast 

It might look a little top heavy, but this all-in-one A4 photocopier feels well made and offers plenty of features for the footprint that it takes up. Duplex scanning from the ADF and rapid automatic photocopying are performed flawlessly, while the print quality in both colour and mono is excellent. Duplex printing is not the fastest, but a wealth of security features and an easy interface more than makes up for the shortfall.  

Read the full review: Lexmark MB2236adw

(Image credit: Jim Hill)

4. Brother MFC-L8690CDW

Prompt printing and copying in a multitalented MFD

Category: 4-in-1 colour laser MFD | Print speed: 31ppm | Paper sizes: up to A4 | Paper capacity: 300 | Weight: 27.9kg

Fast print speed   
Easy cloud printing
Expensive 
Heavy and bulky

Brother has endowed this hefty laser printer with all the features a small business might need. It can hold 300 sheets of paper and turn out mono or colour pages at the rate of 31 per minute. There’s a fax facility and electronic document feed for automated tasks. It also makes wireless printing from a mobile device, or scanning documents to the cloud very easy using its built in Wi-Fi and a slick iOS/Android companion app. Both Google Cloud Print and AirPrint are covered.

Read the full review: Brother MFC-L8690CDW 

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP LaserJet Pro MFP M227fdw

First class laser printing and photocopying

Category: 4-in-1 mono laser printer | Print speed: 28ppm | Paper sizes: up to A4 | Paper capacity: 300 | Weight: 16.9kg

Crisp print quality 
Rapid print speed
Expensive
Bulky

If you have the space for it, this multifunction device will serve a small business well thanks to its useful 35-sheet automatic document feeder and automated photocopying skills. This is a mono machine and it’s not the fastest laser on the block, but it’s quicker than any inkjet and offers an attractive blend of features and performance.   

Read the full review: HP LaserJet Pro MFP M227fdw

Xerox B215

(Image credit: Jim Hill)

6. Xerox B215

Affordable photocopying with touchscreen ease

Category: mono 4-in-1 laser printer | Print speed: 30ppm | Paper sizes: A4 | Paper capacity: 250 | Weight: 11.5kg

Compact and affordable 
Fast print speed 
Modest print resolution       
Manual-duplex ADF 

Xerox’s high-end photocopiers are a familiar sight in big offices, but this inexpensive four-in-one device is ideal for the small or home office. It can print, scan, copy and fax just like its big brothers and there’s room in the extending paper tray for 250 sheets of A4, while the automatic document feed can hold another 50 ready for copying. The ADF has a manual duplex mode, which means that if you need to copy both sides of the document, you have to turn it over yourself when prompted. It will auto-duplex when printing, however, and at 30ppm (pages per minute) printing is faster than almost anything at this price. The sophisticated touchscreen interface is another welcome surprise.

Read the full review: Xerox B215

Epson EcoTank ET-M2140

(Image credit: Epson)

7. Epson EcoTank ET-M2140

A refillable ink tank cuts the print cost of this photocopier

Category: 3-in-1 mono inkjet printer | Print speed: 20ppm | Paper sizes: up to A4 | Paper capacity: 250 | Weight: 6.4kg

Economical to run  
Prompt duplex printing
Expensive to buy
No fax facility

This three-in-one multifunction device might seem expensive for an inkjet, but as with its other cartridge-free solutions, Epson includes a generous amount of ink. The bottle of black ink in the box is good for 11,000 photocopies and Epson recons you’ll make savings of around 90% compared with cartridges. You can fit 250 pages in the main paper tray, scan at high resolution and print crisp duplex pages with a very quick first page out time. The fairly large LCD screen makes it easier to use and the distinctive design picked up a Red Dot award. 

Brother DCP-L3550CDW

(Image credit: Brother)

8. Brother DCP-L3550CDW

Accomplished photocopying at a low price

Category: colour 3-in-1 laser printer | Print speed: 18ppm | Paper sizes: A4 | Paper capacity: 250 | Weight: 8.8kg

50-sheet ADF 
Fast high dpi scanner 
Single-side copying     
Not very fast 

This three-in-one laser printer offers a lot of features for you money. The main paper tray is deep enough for 250 sheets of A4 paper and the automatic document feeder can hold another fifty, which means you can schedule a fifty page photocopying job. There’s no dual-side copying on this budget model, but there is duplex printing. Documents are scanned quickly at a crisp 1200 x 2400 DPI and printed at a reasonably prompt rate of 18cpm (copies per minute). You can even enlarge your photocopies by up to 400%. There’s Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct available for making a wireless connection with or without a network and there are USB ports available both front and back. It’s all controlled by a conveniently placed colour touchscreen. 

Xerox VersaLink C7020

(Image credit: Jim Hill)

Top-end A3 printing with tablet-style control

Category: 4-in-1 colour laser MFD | Print speed: 20ppm | Paper sizes: up to A3 | Paper capacity: 620 | Weight: 92kg

Fully featured  
High duty cycle
Expensive  
Wi-Fi not included 

This is a serious multifunction device built to take care of heavy print loads in the small to medium-sized office. It can hold 620 sheets of paper and there are upgrades available to expand this. It prints quickly in duplex mode and can copy a stack of 110 sheets in its automatic document feeder. It’s a big machine and you can load up the drawer with A3 paper as well as A4. It is also built to last and the sophisticated touchscreen makes it very easy and secure for workers to operate it at the machine. 

Read the full review: Xerox VersaLink C7020

HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw

(Image credit: Jim Hill)

10. HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw

The smallest laser copier has a small price to match

Category: colour 4-in-1 laser printer | Print speed: 18ppm | Paper sizes: A4 | Paper capacity: 150 | Weight: 14.1kg

Compact 
Affordable 
Single-side printing      
Single-side scanning    

HP has managed to shrink a four-in-one laser copier slightly further than anyone else. In fact you have to extend the man paper tray to load your A4 paper. Perhaps more significantly, it has managed to keep the price at rock bottom without loosing any features. It can print, scan copy and fax with Wi-Fi and a USB port for connectivity. The automatic document feeder (ADF) can hold another 40 sheets of A4 for scheduled photocopying. There’s no auto duplex mode, sadly and no duplex scanning either, but it prints quite quickly at 18ppm and it’s not only cheap to buy, but pretty economical to run too.

Read the full review: HP Color Laser MFP 179fnw