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The Best Multifunction Printers and Copiers of 2020

By Andrew Martins,
Business News Daily Writer
| Updated
Sep 10, 2020

Businesses small and large need a copier, but which one is right for you and also affordable? Here's what to consider when purchasing a copier and some models that may fit your needs and budget.
Best Color Copier
Price: $349.99
Most Accessible Color Copier for SMBs
Price: $5,375 (lease available)
Best Budget Color Copier
Price: $279.99
Copier with the Highest Duty Cycle
Price: $46,680 (lease available)
Businesses small and large need a copier, but which one is right for you and also affordable? Here's what to consider when purchasing a copier and some models that may fit your needs and budget.
  • Multifunction printers and copiers are powerful machines that help handle documents in the workplace.
  • Most multifunction printers on the market have internet functionality.
  • Every machine has a monthly duty cycle that serves as an estimate for the number of pages a machine can output in a month.
  • This guide is for business owners who are looking for a multifunction printer or copier for their business.

With their ability to cover a range of office needs in a single piece of equipment, copy machines, otherwise known as multifunction printers (MFP) or multifunction copiers (MFC), are a key component of the modern office space. To determine which copiers we think are the best in 2020 and help you choose the best MFP or MFC for your business, we reached out to nearly a dozen of the industry's top manufacturers, examining their machines' features, prices and ease of use, among other factors.

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Our Reviews

The C405 has a tablet-like screen that helps users access controls.
The C405 fits most small business budgets.
Compared to other copiers, the C405 has a relatively lower print resolution.
Price: $349.99 We chose the Xerox VersaLink C405 as the best overall color copier for small businesses for a number of reasons, from its feature set to its affordability. Thanks to Xerox's high dependability over the years, this sprightly photocopy machine boasts speedy job output and easy usability despite its high-tech, cloud-based features. Built for workgroups of up to 10 employees, this model can facilitate all kinds of digital and physical documents for many small businesses. Thanks to its reasonable price of $349.99 and equally reasonable ink costs, this machine stands out as an excellent choice for any small business looking to buy a copier for its office without the high costs associated with other brands or models.

Sharp MX-C304W: Most Accessible Color Copier for SMBs

The C304W boasts numerous connectivity and accessibility options.
Sharp's voice-activation features are Amazon Alexa-compatible.
It retails for over $5,000, making it one of the more expensive models.
Price: $5,375 (lease available) The Sharp MX-C304W is our pick for most accessible color copier for small businesses because it's easy for anyone to use its features. The office environment is a diverse one, with different people working at different ability levels due to physical or mental hindrances. Since disabilities can sometimes make the simple act of copying a document more difficult than it is for others, small businesses may need to consider how accessible a machine can be. To that end, the MX-C304W has many hands-free functions, including voice recognition and an adjustable touchscreen with a possible Braille upgrade, that enable most people to use the machine. Along with its decent job speed and high duty cycle, this machine's relatively high price tag is justified by how easily it can adapt to most situations in a small business.

Brother MFC-J6545DW INKvestment Tank: Best Budget Color Copier

This model is extremely affordable without sacrificing functionality.
Brother backs this machine with a two-year warranty.
It sports the smallest touch screen among its peers in this category.
Price: $279.99 The Brother MFC-J6545DW may be our pick for the best budget color copier for small businesses primarily because of its low price tag, but don't let that fool you into thinking this machine is too cheap to be considered for daily office use. As part of Brother's INKvestment Tank line, this diminutive piece of office equipment has a high-capacity ink cartridge that boasts a printing cost of pennies per page. While it's great that the machine is affordable and can print at a higher resolution than some other machines, its low memory capacity means its job output is among the slowest we found in our research. Still, with its online capabilities and focus on cost-saving measures, the MFC-J6545DW should be an easy pick for small businesses looking to save a buck.
Read Review

Toshiba e-STUDIO8515A: Copier with the Highest Duty Cycle

Compared to similar machines, the 8515A has the fastest print speeds.
It has the highest duty cycle, with up to 720K pages per month.
Its exorbitant price point will mean you will likely need a lease.
Price: $46,680 (lease available) The Toshiba e-STUDIO 8515A is our best pick for the copier with the highest duty cycle because it boasts a monthly maximum of 720,000 pages. This massive 430-pound piece of office equipment can churn out huge quantities of pages for an entire business's printing needs without breaking down, with job times of 85 pages per minute as well as blazing-fast scanning. With the right accessories, the e-STUDIO 8515A can even act as a fax machine by sending to upward of 2,000 destinations. Of all the machines we examined, this one seemed the most niche, with its massive price and heavy focus on production of paper products. Still, this is an MFC that can do everything you need it to do in terms of copying, scanning, printing and faxing documents if you can accept its high purchase price and maintenance costs.
Read Review

Multifunction Printer and Copier Features

MFPs and copiers let small businesses create, duplicate and transmit documents from one location. Previously, offices relied on multiple machines to do everything that a modern multifunction printer or copier can. As the years went on, technological advances allowed manufacturers to develop cheaper and smaller components that could work together in a single system. As such, multifunction printers and copiers provide a flexible platform upon which small businesses can operate more efficiently.

As a small business owner, you may wonder how beneficial it would be to have a multifunction printer or copier in your office, given the initial cost of purchasing or leasing a machine and the need to keep paper and replacement ink or toner cartridges in stock. That question becomes even more prevalent if there are print shops nearby, including major chains like Staples that offer printing services. While taking your printing and copying needs to a third party may be an attractive option, a dedicated multifunction printer and copier in your office will save you money in the long run, since most machines can print each page for pennies when you factor in paper, ink and the overall duty cycle. Keeping these tasks in-house also makes document organization easier and keeps sensitive data in a more centrally located and secure location.

Along with their in-office benefits, MFPs and multifunction copiers often have features that not only make day-to-day operations more efficient but can also make certain tasks easier. The following are some of the features to be on the lookout for when you're considering a machine for your office.

Print Speed

When printing or copying a document, no one wants to stand around a machine waiting for the job to complete. Most manufacturers of today's multifunction printers and copiers strive to put fast printing machines on the market. As small businesses grow to add more employees, a faster machine will greatly benefit that company, since a slower device will be a productivity bottleneck.

Measured in pages per minute (ppm), a machine's print speed is usually the same for monochrome documents as it is for color documents, with laser printer models generally outperforming inkjet printer models. In our research, we found machines as slow as 15 ppm and as fast as 85 ppm. Naturally, the faster machines have higher price tags. The decision of how fast you need your printing to go depends largely on how frequently you need that printer to run in the first place.

Ease of Use

A multifunction printer and copier should be easy to use, since nearly everyone in your office will need to use it at some point. Thanks to most modern models' reliance on a color touchscreen and integration with Android and iOS devices for wireless printing, today's machines are highly functional regardless of a user's technical savvy.

Ease of use also applies to the system's initial setup and user training. Most malfunctions can be attributed to human error, leading to major blocks in production. For example, if a widely distributed memo is hard to read because the machine wasn't operated correctly, that will hamper your company's ability to disseminate information and result in a loss of supplies if the job must be redone.

Duty Cycle

Every multifunction device on the market has limitations. For multifunction printers and copiers, the main limitation is the duty cycle, or the maximum number of pages the machine can run through in a month. Think of it as a rule of thumb for the machine's operational endurance. In our research, we found machines that can only handle 10,000 pages per month and some that can handle 720,000. You'll need to weigh how important a machine's duty cycle is against how many pages you expect to run through it.

Connectivity and Accessibility

A modern multifunction printer and copier can connect to the internet to conduct certain tasks. It's important to consider what internet-powered features matter to your business, such as cloud-based file organization to download and print documents or faxing capabilities. In addition to online functionality, some printers can interface with other devices, such as USB flash drives or mobile phones for wireless connectivity via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

The hands-free technology in today's multifunction printers and copiers also makes these machines more accessible to a wider range of employees. Individuals with disabilities often have trouble with office machinery, so manufacturers have taken steps to make things easier for those users. With features like embossed marks on keyboards, motion sensors and larger, easier-to-read color touchscreens, anyone can use one of these machines effectively. Those additions increase not only your workers' options, but also the machine's ease of use, allowing everyone in your office to use the machine regardless of any disabilities they may have.

Security

When looking for a cloud-compatible multifunction printer and copier, you should pay attention to the onboard data and network security measures. When you add a copy machine to your local network, it's another endpoint device that malicious actors can use to exploit your file systems. Many copiers have password controls, centralized print policy protocols that a system administrator can use to set rules for how the machine acts, and user-level access options to keep unauthorized people from using the machine. Some have encrypted hard drives to store sensitive data, while others rely on encryption protocols for their internet connections to keep data safe. If your business deals in HIPAA-protected consumer data, security should be a top priority for you in the copier you choose.

Mobility

Though no one is expected to move the office's multifunction printer and copier around at a moment's notice, it's important to consider how much space the machine will occupy. Small businesses tend to not have a lot of real estate when starting out, so a massive machine would likely not make sense for most companies unless it's the crux of the business. In many cases, these machines are going to stay on a desk or filing cabinet, so weight is also an important consideration.

Key takeaway: Since most multifunction printers and copiers mostly operate the same way, features like internet functionality, high print speeds and intuitive controls can help you distinguish the best machines from mediocre ones.

Pricing

With so much variation from one machine to the other, it makes sense that these printers range from sub-$300 models to high-end machines that cost upward of $50,000 and offer the option to lease.

To determine the cost of a multifunction printer and copier, though, you should consider not just the initial price, but also the cost of supplies, any extra features your business needs and general maintenance. If you lease your machine from the manufacturer, it's likely the maintenance will be covered in your plan, though some lease agreements require a separate maintenance plan for an additional cost.

When it comes to supplies, the main thing to research is the cost of toner or ink cartridge replacements. Which one you need depends on the machine. Generally, ink cartridges need to be replaced more frequently than toner cartridges, so their overall cost may be higher. Some inkjet printer manufacturers combat this by incorporating ink-saving features or boosting the overall ink capacity.

Key takeaway: The price for a modern copier or multifunction printer ranges wildly between hundreds and thousands of dollars, though the ones with larger price tags can often be leased.

Multifunction Printer and Copier FAQs

Should you lease or buy an office copier?

Depending on the model and its features, a photocopy machine can be a major investment for an office. As price tags go up into the thousands, you may have the option to lease. There are pros and cons with both methods.

When you lease a machine, you sign an agreement to make payments over a set number of months, during which time the machine is loaned to you. Your upfront costs for the lease are lower than they would be if you purchased the machine. The lessor takes care of the machine's maintenance during that time. Over the course of the lease, you never actually own the machine and may be restricted in its usage.

Buying a machine is cheaper in the long run, but it requires you to have the capital on hand. As its owner, you assume complete responsibility for the machine, including maintenance and repairs. There are no restrictions on how you can use the machine.

What qualities should you look for in a copy machine?

When looking for a copier, you want to consider a few things. First, make sure the machine fits your office space. These machines can get pretty sizable, so check its dimensions before making a commitment.

Also pay attention to the machine's print speed. Some of the high-end models can churn out dozens of pages in a minute. The resolution for both copying and printing is also important. The higher the resolution, the better image and print quality your projects will have.

There are other criteria that you should absolutely keep in mind, but your mileage may vary on which ones matter most.

Which is better: inkjet or laser?

When it comes to printing out documents, your main choice is between an inkjet printer and a laser printer. Inkjet machines are cheaper to purchase but more expensive to keep running because of the costs for ink replacement. Toner, which is powder-based, lasts significantly longer than ink, reducing the overall cost per page. Inkjet printers are great for photos and graphics because they can work in color, while toner-based machines are generally costlier and larger, and they mostly work in monochrome, though toner-based machines with color printing exist.

What is the difference between a printer and a photocopier?

These days, "copier" and "printer" are interchangeable terms. These machines, commonly referred to as "multifunction printers," can copy documents, send faxes, print pages and more. Traditionally, printers were simply machines that connected to a computer or network and used either ink or toner to commit a digital file to a physical page. Copiers, on the other hand, scan a document and make a duplicate of it.

Community Experts

Every business's need is different when it comes to multifunction printers and copiers, so we reached out to several small business owners to get a better sense of those needs and the models or brands they rely on.

A chief factor that most respondents cited was the need for a highly reliable machine to handle their daily document scanning, copying, printing and scanning tasks. Unified Pest Control owner Mike Charles said his office's Ricoh MP C307 has become a workhorse in those departments.

"The [copier's] footprint is on the smaller side, so it does not take up too much room in our office," he said. "The user interface is very easy to use, and it has been a reliable machine for our needs. Supplies are relatively inexpensive, and our printing costs have actually decreased compared to the HP machine we had before."

Size and reliability may be paramount in Charles' office, but Adam Korbl, CEO of iFax, said his business needs a machine that can be "part of the team." For that role, Korbl said he can easily recommend Xerox's WorkCentre product line. And he wasn't alone.

Allan Borch, founder of Dotcom Dollar, said the Xerox WorkCentre 6515 in his company's office is easily worth the price and its associated costs thanks to its ease of use, reliability and data security measures.

"We use smart multifunction printing and copying machines from Xerox," Borch said. "The Xerox WorkCentre 6515 comes equipped with mobile printing functionality, cloud-connected apps and environmentally friendly features. On top of all of these features, it has a handful of color management tools ... that [ensure] business collaterals are reproduced in uniform, consistent colors."

While those small businesses use their multifunction printers and copiers as supplements to their operations, others rely on them to facilitate their entire business model.

"I have a small business that is 100% paper-based. Our little Canon Pixma all-in-one office printer [from 2010] gets a workout every single day with test runs and products that we sell in our online shop," said Lisa Jaspers, owner, publisher and graphic artist at stationery business A Country Girl's Life. "Since day one, I've been impressed with the quality and reliability of this machine. We've had every other major brand at one point or another during the last 20 years, and they've all broken down after about two years."

What to Expect in 2020

The copier industry is well established. In 2020, expect many recognizable names to remain prominent, including Canon, Kyocera, Toshiba, Xerox, Samsung, Epson, HP, Konica Minolta, Brother International and Dell. While these market leaders are unlikely to change much in the future, the new devices they release continue to add modern functionality to remain competitive.

For example, cloud-based technology is a mainstay in modern business. Today's copiers have adapted to this change, offering internet connectivity. This allows users to connect to MFPs via their mobile devices and print or copy files in various formats. This feature is a must in the copier industry today and will remain a key element of the best copiers on the market.

Many copiers also have built-in functions to reduce waste in the office, cutting costs and moving businesses closer to green operations. Expect more copier manufacturers to prioritize energy efficiency and the use of recycled materials to reduce their environmental impact in 2020 and beyond.

Key takeaway: Despite ongoing COVID-19 disruptions, many of the recognizable companies in the market will remain at the top of the multifunction printer industry, with a slate of new models set to release in the coming months.

Andrew Martins
Andrew Martins,
Business News Daily Writer
See Andrew Martins's Profile
I am a former newspaper editor who has transitioned to strictly cover the business world for business.com and Business News Daily. I am a four-time New Jersey Press Award winner and prior to joining my current team, I was the editor of six weekly newspapers that covered multiple counties in the state.
Image Credit: Sjale / Getty Images
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