Printer vs. photocopier: What would you choose?

By | February 25, 2009

One thing we really hate at work is our copy machine. … We’ve been trying to find a decent copy machine that connects to our computers, allows b4 and larger paper, and produces consistent quality output. You’ve no idea how difficult it is to find a company that can rent your office a good quality machine. We’ve  hired copiers from three different companies (names omitted for fear of embarrassment) but each machine we rented has had issues with stability, quality or reliability. It’s a nightmare.

Last year, I proposed to our staff that we just forget about photocopying altogether, and go printer 100%. Why? By comparison, I bought an HP LaserJet 1020 a few years ago that has provided a really good consistent and reliable output over the past few years. That machine cost us less than three months’ rental to buy, is easy to maintain, and cheap to replace.

So, I began to look for laser quality all-in-one type machines that could provide everything we need. And indeed, if you check out the typical producers of such machines, Dell, HP, Epson, as well as some of the more traditional copier companies, you will find some great deals on sale at the moment.

For example, the Brother MFC-8870DW Multifunction Printer is a good laser-based solution. It provides a decent 30 pages per minute, has a big enough paper tray, wireless networking, and a big glass for scanning pictures. I’m not sure of the cost of printing with this machine, but anything less than the $0.80 a page we’re paying now would be fine.

Unfortunately, for many smaller service oriented bureaus who provide copier services to offices and shops, such devices are really a competitive threat. We’ve already been with three companies over the years, and found that none of them are as reliable as our trusty laser printer. How long is it before others concede this point?

So if you are in the smaller copier rental business, you may need to focus on service. That’s what we need. We wouldn’t mind paying more for a copier if we got a good quality service. But that fact that we don’t makes it all the more compelling to look at low-end all-in-one copiers.