How To: Select an All-In-One Printer
by: Jen Udan | ChooseWhat.com
An all-in-one printer is essential for every small business, whether you print often or not.
Compared to a trip to your local copy store, all-in-one printers can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle. While all-in-one printers used to be expensive, they are now quite affordable and convenient for the fledgling business owner.
Why do I need an all-in-one printer?
Copy. You may think that you’re not going to make many copies, and if you do you can just go to the nearest FedEx Office. However, you’ll be copying more than you think, as you’ll need to duplicate or scan forms, employees’ driver’s licenses, receipts, etc. Multiple trips to a local copy store often wastes valuable time.
Print. Even if you are the best in the world at eliminating paper consumption, you’re still going to have to print some things, such as checks, envelopes, and contracts that need to be signed.
Scan. This is key to speeding up the transmission and electronic storing of documents.
Fax. Most all-in-one printers have fax capabilities. However, unless you plan on doing a massive amount of faxing, it doesn't make sense to pay the cost of a dedicated phone line for your fax machine. We recommend using a low-cost online fax service instead.
Network Capability. Get a printer that you can plug into your network so everyone can use it and you'll only need one for the entire office.
Before you select an all-in-one printer, you should:
Decide between inkjet printers and laser printers.
It’s important to understand the differences between inkjet and laser printers before you buy an office printer. The differences can be crucial to you and your business. Read below for more information about each type of printer.
Advantages of Inkjets:
Lower start-up cost. Inkjet printers typically cost much less than laser printers. You can sometimes get a color inkjet printer for cheaper than you can get a black and white laser printer. They are more economical for users who don’t need to print often.
Higher quality photos and images. Inkjet printers are said to be better than laser printers at printing high-quality images and photos with rich colors.
Space-saving and convenient. Inkjet printers are often smaller and lighter and also offer the option to make smaller prints (i.e. 4x6” prints).
Disadvantages of Inkjets:
- Expensive ink. Inkjet printers have been widely panned for requiring exorbitantly expensive ink cartridges that need to be replaced often. However, printer manufacturers have drastically lowered the cost of the ink cartridges in recent years. Also, a number of third-party online suppliers sell inkjet cartridges at significant discounts.
- Shorter lifetime of print. Inkjets that print with aqueous, or "dye-based," inks produce prints that tend to fade and change color. However, some manufacturers have come out with solvent-based or pigment-based inks that last much longer.
Advantages of Lasers:
Lower per-page cost. Because laser ink cartridges can print more pages per ink cartridge than an inkjet, they give you a lower cost per page. They end up being much more economical for users who print a high volume.
Higher quality text. Unlike inkjets, laser printers usually print fine details and smaller texts with no problems. They are also faster at printing multiple fonts per page with high quality and very little blurring.
Faster printing. Laser printers don’t take long to warm up, and they usually print and dry in virtually no time.
Disadvantages of Lasers:
- Higher start-up cost. Laser printers typically cost more than inkjet printers. You can probably find a decent inkjet printer for under $200, but an equally good laser printer typically starts at $200. However, the lower per-page cost of a laser printer might make it more desirable than an inkjet in the long run.
- Higher color printing cost. Laser printers are only economical when they’re printing in black and white (i.e. "monochrome"). If you frequently need to print in color, inkjets will give you a lower cost per page than laser printers. Also laser printers typically aren’t designed to create photo-quality prints.
- Takes up space. When compared with inkjet printers, laser printers are often larger and heavier. They might not be ideal for home offices but probably won’t pose a problem for larger office spaces.
Where to Get a Printer
We suggest using Amazon.com to research printers and narrow down your choices. Amazon will let you read user reviews of different all-in-one printers and will also let you filter by features such as brand and color.
Check out the top all-in-one printers on Amazon:
Top all-in-one printer brand names:
- Get a printer with wireless networking capabilities. Lots of printers now come with wireless networking capabilities built in, so you can put your printer anywhere and print from it. These are usually not much more expensive than non-wireless printers (usually cost an extra $10 or $20) and is a worthy investment.
- Scan and copy with a document feeder. Do not buy an all-in-one that requires you to manually place each page on the document reader. You should be able to load at least 20 pages at a time into the feeder so that the machine can work in the background while you do something else.
- Set up your scanner on a secondary computer. Scanning something to your computer will prevent you from being able to work on your computer. Even if you’re a one-man shop and don’t need the network functionality described above, it’s a good idea to set up the scanner on a different computer from your primary computer, so you can still do work while your document is scanning.
- Beware of buying the really cheap printers that cost less than $100. Cheap printers often end up costing you more than you think they will. Frequently, they will waste ink cartridges at a faster rate than a higher quality printer and may require more maintenance. Avoid these unnecessary costs by researching and paying for a quality printer up front.