A few weeks ago a client needed some help configuring a MFP on their home office network. The printer was working but they needed assistance using the scan feature. To make a short story shorter, the process for using the scanner on this printer was cumbersome and annoying. It involved three separate applications and a trip to the actual device to press an arbitrary key combination that finally initiated the scanning process. The client returned the device the next day.
It’s 2010 and we are all still waiting for the prophecies of the paperless office to come true. In the meantime it’s essential that you have a printer (or more realistically a multi-function device) that will not only satisfy your needs but also be easy to setup and use. When making any purchasing decision the most important question you need to ask yourself is: “Why do I need this?” If you answer yourself honestly, you will have an easier time figuring out exactly what you need.
Choosing a printer certainly isn’t the most important decision you’ll make regarding your IT assets but you certainly don’t want to add something to your life that results in more frustration than utility. A printer is a mundane device and the way to know you’ve made a good decision is if you never think about it again once it’s all setup (except for replacing ink or toner of course). So let’s look at the basics.
Unless you have very specific printing needs your small office or home office will reap the most benefit from a well equipped multi-function printer (MFP), that will allow you to print, copy, scan and fax. That being said, I will focus on some things you need to look out for when choosing on a MFP. Printers fall into two main categories; inkjet or laser. The biggest choice will be determining whether a laser or an inkjet based printer is right for you. Laser printers are known for their crisp text, high volume and speed while inkjet printers tend to be better suited for high quality photo printing and lower costs for color printing.
Remember when choosing a printer that the cost of ink or toner will greatly affect the total cost of ownership for your device over its lifetime. Most inkjet printers will allow you to replace only the individual color ink cartridges you need, when you need to.
Here’s a list of specifications you want to pay attention to when choosing a MFP:
In addition, to these basics be sure to look out for these features:
For the most part, you want to have little interaction with the printer itself, except when copying, faxing or scanning a document. It’s important therefore that these interactions are as painless and seamless as possible. All printers are not created equal and the software that comes with your printer will have a very big impact on your experience so make sure it’s easy to use. Your IT consultant will also probably have some good recommendations for you so that you don’t end up with the kind of printer our client had.