Tech

Design Features to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Business Printer

By Staff Reporter , Aug 14, 2020 11:31 AM EDT

You might not think that you know enough about printers to choose the right one for your business, but you will find out pretty quickly if you have selected the wrong one. The printer is like the lifeline in an office, providing clarity and last-minute support around the clock, not to mention how incredible it can make your finished work look when it's bound or presented before you or your clients. If it's time to replace your printer or finally bring one to your business operation, let's highlight which design features that you should look out for when choosing so that you can get the best asset in your office.

The brand is important

Printers are an exception to the rule of not judging a book by its cover, as each printing brand has its own unique set of advantages and features, which is why buying a no-name printer might not save you money in the long run with no support services or warranty behind them. The HP printer range deserves a notable mention as their comprehensive collection of printers cover all business needs, from the compact laser inkjet printer to the larger multifunctional designs that can accommodate competing priorities and a larger workforce with such ease and no more than a quiet purr. Epson and Canon are other printers that you can include in your decision mix as they are another obvious choice for business printers, and you can begin to compare these brand notes against one another and make a more informed decision with your unique needs in mind.

Paper handling

Paper handling is a feature that might be too pedestrian to even think about, but before you know you have a business printer on the way that can only print A4 and your office is expecting A3 functionality. Always confirm the size functionality when choosing a printer and don't make ay assumption due to the size of the printer because they are simply not made equal with each model serving different tasks. There is also an option for envelope (DL) printing and A5 booklet printing, which is worth its weight in gold at that moment you need this, not to mention saving you money if you had previously outsourced expensive printing jobs. You can also find printers that will staple booklets inside the printer and have them neatly ready in the paper tray - but if you don't think you need this sort of functionality then ensure you aren't paying for it and don't be distracted by irrelevant bells and whistles.

Another callout to look for is how much paper the trays can take, and the speed with which it can be printed. The newer iterations of printers are getting faster and faster, but tray volume can be something that might trip you up, especially if your business does 'set and forget' printing and employees can't keep returning to the printer to reload the reams. If the volume is important to you for reporting duties, then find out how many reams can the tray take and how long it will get through the printing jobs.

Energy consumption and environmental considerations

We've all been guilty of buying a cheap phone charger or compact heater, only to find that it burns energy at a rate of knots, and the makeup of these products are not very sustainable at all. These days, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a printer that has a low environmental impact, with all those big names in printing getting on board and rolling out their respective green missions which you can find on their websites. In fact, you can even buy a business printer that could have been partly made from the business printers before it as closing the loop is a huge focus area for printing giants. These considerations are going to intensify in years to come, so by doing your part and making decisions based on these important environmental factors now, you are demonstrating to your office how important this is.

Energy ratings can be found and researched on the printer itself of the website you are buying from, so be sure to translate that energy rating into real-world terms so that you choose something that isn't going to impact your bills and office flow too much. Another thing to note is that there are a few energy rating standards globally, so make sure you are looking to the right country parameters. Are the two stars out of five or ten? Make sure you know what sort of energy-consuming printer you are about to buy.

Connectivity

Connectivity might be an area you need to pay special attention to, as those buying a printer now might not have had to make this consideration in prior purchases. When we talk about connectivity, we mean more than just USB compatibility, which is probably the standard for almost all printers now. Ethernet is something you will need to confirm that your new printer accommodates, which will allow your employees to have the printer plugged into the network router so that workers can print freely. You also want to ensure that the printer is going to work harmoniously with Apple, Android, and any operating system that you will find in the workplace. 

On that topic, choose a printer that has WiFi functionality, as this will allow you to print remotely through an app. How incredible would it be if you could send something to the printer from your mobile when sitting in the boardroom and have it delivered to the room? These sort of features might seem like overkill today, but they aren't once you start interacting with their capabilities and see the streamlined results. You also have to consider the younger generations which are entering the office landscape and their own digital native expectations.

Printer cartridge cost and availability

You've found a great printer, it looks good, and the output is impressive for you and the team, but when you go to order more ink and toner cartridges... it's an expensive exercise and not many reputable retailers carry these cartridges. This is a key consideration, as a bargain printer will mean nothing if you are spending a fortune on the cartridges required to actually print. You could even approach this purchase from end to start, and get a sense of what sort of cartridges are easily found online, reliable and known to outperform other options and then find a printer that takes these cartridges. While we are talking about the features of a printer in this article, remember that cartridges play the most important role in your printer, so include them in your number-crunching and consideration.

'Cost per print' is a term that those in the know will use to weigh up their choice of printer, and often the best cost per print will come from XL cartridges, despite their perceived expensive price point. Modern printers and their compatible cartridges are more sparing with their usage, so if you have an eye on a second-hand printer with a low price point - make sure you are looking at the whole picture.

Size, maintenance and installation

Will your new printer go where the old one was sitting or have you forged a new printing space? This decision is worth taking the time to decide, as noise pollution can be a real issue for people who are sitting quite close to the printer. You also want to take into account the physical size of the printer, and not just that but the paper reams and other accessories that need to be positioned right by it. Now that you have a new printer on the way, consider where it will go. If possible, choose an area that is not too cramped as the printing units can heat up and it's preferable that they have some space to cool down. You also don't want your business printer to be sitting flush against a wall, but will ample space behind.

Take the time to look into what the installation process is for your printer, and this information will likely not be so easy to find so don't hold back from calling the manufacturer directly. While you have them on the line, you can also query what the maintenance schedule will conceivably look like - how often will the maintenance happen, the cost, what's covered by warranty, and are there any known faults to be wary of?

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It's a shame there are no buying advocates like there are in the property market when it comes to the purchase of your new printer because a misstep can significantly impact the flow and functionality of your office and that's not something you want resting on your shoulders. If you want to confirm your choice before you order, send some information around with a printing manual to your key stakeholders and ask them for their buy-in before purchase. This will not only spread the responsibility, but it might even uncover some areas that you hadn't thought to include in your printer search. Reviews can also be very illuminating, so be sure to jump online and see what sort of reviews are out there for your shortlisted printers.

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