How to choose the right printer for your office

Here at Kimbley IT we are regularly asked: “Which printer do you recommend for my business?”. This is the equivalent of “What healthcare should I buy?”, or “Where should I invest my life savings?” – The answer will be unique to your personal needs. 

There are a number of factors you need to consider to choose the right machine for you.

Do you need a printer?

Before delving into the specifics of choosing a printer, you should first decide whether you actually need one? Almost every document you use can be stored and processed digitally – the paper-light office is a reality for businesses who work in the Cloud for instance.

It is a poor investment to buy a printer simply because you think you should own one. If you only intend to print documents on an infrequent basis, it may be cheaper, more effective and professional to use a third party printing service.

With that said, here’s what you need to consider if you do need one.

Should you get a Laser or inkjet printer?

There are two major categories of printer technology – laser and inkjet. Laser printers are fast, (slightly) cheaper to run and some models are capable of handling large print runs.

Inkjets, on the other hand, are slower than LaserJets, and the ink cartridges never last as long as their laser equivalents. Inkjets are best suited to small print runs for a single user.

If you want multiple people to use a single printer, a network attached laser unit will be the best choice.

What will you print? Documents or photos?

Laser printers are typically geared towards documents and charts – business type print jobs. Inkjets, on the other hand, can also print high-quality glossy pictures if required.

In most cases, businesses can get by with a colour laser printer, but if the ability to print high-quality photographs is important, you should consider an inkjet.

It is also worth pointing out that laser printed documents tend to be more durable. The ink used by inkjets is water soluble for instance, so sweaty fingers are more than capable of smudging your printouts.

What will be your ongoing printer costs?

Printer hardware is incredibly cheap – manufacturers recoup their costs by inflating the price of consumables. Some reports suggest that printer ink costs more than £4200 per litre – Chanel No 5 perfume, is a snip at just £2400 per litre.

Laser printer toner is also quite expensive, but much more economical in the long term. If you plan to do lots of printing, a laser unit will be the cheaper choice.

Which manufacturer should you pick?

Regardless of the badge on the front, printers are pretty much the same on the inside. Brands like HP, Epson and Xerox, have a long pedigree of making decent equipment, so you could begin looking at their products. HP does offer good support for cloud services making it easier to print documents you have stored in the cloud.

Never forget that choosing the cheapest available models can be a false economy. As well as the extortionate cost of consumables, you will find that frequent failures and a short lifespan quickly add to the total cost of ownership.

Choosing your ideal printer

Using these guidelines, you should be able to draw up a list of requirements that your ideal printer must have. Now it’s simply a case of searching online (or your nearest hardware store) for printers that fit the bill. You should also read professional reviews of any units you shortlist to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Just make sure you choose carefully – the cost of buying an inferior printer could be much more expensive than the price tag.