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The Best Multifunction Printers and Copiers of 2020

By
Andrew Martins
,
Business News Daily Staff
| 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
Sharp MX-C304W
Price: $5,375 (lease available)
Best Budget Color Copier
Brother MFC-J6545DW INKvestment Tank
Price: $279.99
Copier with the Highest Duty Cycle
Toshiba e-STUDIO8515A
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.

The Xerox Versalink C405 is our pick as the best multifunction copier for small businesses. With a highly dependable track record, speedy job times, and affordable price point at just under $700, this nimble all-in-one device can simultaneously work in the cloud while remaining a secure endpoint in your business infrastructure.

Built specifically for workgroups of up to 10 users, the Xerox VersaLink C405 is currently available for $699, making it one of the most affordable copiers we examined. As a result of its relatively affordable price tag, Xerox does not offer leasing. The machine comes with a one-year service warranty (with annual onsite service) and is eligible for free service coverage with Xerox eConcierge. Additional extended warranties are available from Xerox.

As with every multifunction copier on our list, additional costs you could incur exist in the form of extra toner cartridges, more paper trays to expand paper feed capacity, and wireless network adapters, since Wi-Fi is optional. According to Xerox, toner cartridges for the C405 cost anywhere from $114 for the standard capacity cartridge (2,500 pages) to $195 for the extra high-capacity toner cartridge (8,000-10,500 pages). To reduce those costs at the time of purchasing a C405, Xerox offers a 10% discount on those supplies.

As a machine built for smaller businesses, the C405 is a color multifunction copier that's as feature-rich as it is diminutive. With a largely non-assuming physical footprint at 24 x 26 x 33 inches and weighing 72 lbs., this machine is one of the smallest ones on our list. Yet, the C405 can produce copy jobs at a decent speed with its 2GB of print memory and 1.05GHz dual-core processor. The C405 has a first-page-out time of up to 10.6 seconds in color and 8.8 seconds in black and white. Pages are copied, scanned and printed at 600 x 600 dpi, which isn't the highest quality we found, but the C405's ability to handle 36 pages per minute in both color and monochrome was near the top of the list. With a duty cycle of approximately 85,000 pages per month, the C405 can run consistently for a long time without running into issues.

When copying, the C405 employs several features that improve job quality, including Automatic Background Suppression, Book Copying with Center Erase, Collation, Darkness Control and Edge Erase. This model is also capable of enlarging a copy between 25% and 400% and making other adjustments as well, with features like image shift, original type, and sharpness.

As far as connectivity and accessibility go, the VersaLink C405 has plenty of options and add-ons to cater to the needs of most businesses. Sporting a 5-inch touch screen with gesture controls, the machine has an app-based, almost tablet-like, navigation style that's instantly familiar to anyone with a smartphone. Since it can pull documents from cloud services like Docushare, DropBox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, the C405 can connect to the web via Ethernet connection or through an optional Wi-Fi kit.

Users who want to copy and print a file from their own devices can do so with this machine, thanks to its high-speed USB 3.0 port, NFC capability and compatibility with Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and the Xerox Print Service Plug-in for Android.

With all its connectivity features, Xerox included some security measures to protect data and network infrastructure. When connected, the machine utilizes AES 256-bit encryption for its data, domain filtering, firmware verification, FIPS 140-2 compliance, network authentication and port filtering, among other protective measures.

Though the VersaLink C405 is a worthy addition to most small businesses, it doesn't fit the bill for larger or expanding businesses. Companies that rely on larger quantities of printed, scanned, copied or faxed documents may want a machine with more RAM, since 2GB may not be enough to handle a heavy workload without experiencing some slowdown. And just like most MFCs that rely on toner, replacement cartridges are an expensive proposition. Consider how much printing you usually do in a month and compare that figure to the yield estimates provided by Xerox so you don't spend a large sum each month.

 

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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.

As tech companies continue to ensure that their products can be used by as wide a range of consumers as possible, features found on the Sharp MX-C304W, like the hands-free functionality and possible Braille kit add-on for the touch screen, allow all workers to handle various day-to-day tasks.

As part of Sharp's Advanced Series, the MX-C304W is a desktop color document system that can be customized to suit your business's needs and the needs of your workers. Due to its highly customizable nature, you'll need to obtain a price quote from one of Sharp's authorized agents. After speaking with a company rep, Sharp estimated that the machine would cost $5,375, though additional add-ons could increase that price. If that initial price tag comes as a shock, Sharp offers a lease through their dealers. The manufacturer also offers a 90-day warranty to the customer.

Along with the initial price point for the C304W, business owners would do well to consider supply costs for this machine. As a laser MFC, this machine requires toner cartridges to operate. These cartridges have an approximately 6,000-page yield and must be purchased from outside retailers. Prices for each toner cartridge range from $33 for black toner and approximately $90 for the separate cyan, magenta, and yellow toner cartridges. A starter set of toner is included in the box.

The Sharp MX-C304W measures 19 x 22 x 22.5 inches and weighs 84 lbs., making it one of the smaller models for this category, but still a decent-sized piece of machinery that small businesses can utilize in a small office. The copier comes with 5GB of shared copy and print memory, as well as a 500GB hard drive to store information in its document filing system.

The MX-C304W has a 100-sheet reversing single-pass feeder and a standard tray capable of holding 300 sheets at a maximum size of 8.5 x 14 inches. With additional tray options, this machine can store up to 2,600 sheets. The scanning and copying resolution is 600 x 600 dpi, with a first copy time for color copies marked at 6.7 seconds and 5.5 seconds for monochrome documents. When running through printing jobs, the C304W operates at a speed of 30 pages per minute with a maximum duty cycle of 75,000 pages in a month, both of which we found to be relatively decent among the printers we examined.

While the C304W is notable for its small-business-friendly office footprint and functionality, its accessibility features set it apart from the other copiers. Thanks to this machine's voice-recognition feature with Amazon Alexa integration, users can conduct basic copy and scan functions in a hands-free, sanitary way. In addition, the available Synappx Go application for Apple and Android mobile devices lets users use a compatible device that they're comfortable using instead of having to spend too much time learning an entirely new piece of equipment.

For wheelchair users and people with limited mobility, this MFC features a tilting front panel with a fully adjustable capacitive function regarding key touch, sound, and speed. Users with limited vision will appreciate the tactile feel of the machine's controls, including the concave home screen key, universal grip for optional paper trays and optional Braille kit for the touch screen.

Like other MFCs, the C304W can connect to the internet either through an Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi. AirPrint and other cloud-based programs like Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox are supported out of the box. This machine supports USB PDF direct print.

Security-minded small businesses will appreciate the C304W's multilayered security features, such as Firmware Attack Prevention and Self Recovery, both of which can identify a malicious intrusion and restore the machine firmware to its original state. The MX-C304W has a built-in whitelisting feature that can detect attempts to access the machine's file system and immediately deny connections not found on the whitelist. IT professionals can also set Authority Groups to help manage and restrict copying, printing, and scanning features to safeguard data and control costs. Other features like Confidential Printing and an end-of-lease feature keep sensitive documents secure by either requiring a PIN to print them or by erasing all data altogether, respectively.

Though this machine is great for small businesses looking to support their employees with disabilities, some limitations should be highlighted. First and foremost is the price – nothing's going to change your mind if more than $5,000 is beyond your budget. Similarly, you may not want to add another monthly cost in a lease. Another issue we found was the somewhat lackluster duty cycle, since other products we looked at in this category had upward of 210,000 pages per month, albeit at a significantly higher price point. The relatively limited number of different paper sizes was worrisome, since other printers can handle bigger document sizes. The size of this MFC's touch screen also left a little to be desired, as the more high-end models had 10.1-inch touch screens.

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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.

The Brother MFC-J6545DW INKvestment Tank multifunction copier is a supremely affordable machine that can handle pages up to 11 x 17 inches and offer high-resolution prints in a compact unit. Coupled with how easy it is to use and its high-yield ink cartridges, this copier from Brother is an easy choice for small businesses looking to add a copier to the mix without breaking the bank.

As far as business copiers go, prices can start out modest and end up skyrocketing into the tens of thousands of dollars depending on your needs. With an MSRP of $279.99, the Brother MFC-J6545DW is by far the most affordable multifunction copier on our list. Due to the remarkably low cost of this device, Brother does not offer a leasing option, though considering its cost per page comes to pennies on the dollar, that shouldn't be a problem. The MFC comes with a two-year limited warranty with free Brother-At-Your-Side support for the life of the device.

One of the main cost considerations that go into an all-in-one MFC is the constant need to replace ink. As a part of Brother's INKvestment Tank product line, the MFC-J6545DW uses reengineered ink cartridges that last longer than the competition. Super yield replacement cartridges can provide enough ink for up to 3,000 pages and costs up to $65 for a three pack, while its ultra high yield replacements provide ink for up to 6,000 pages and cost $63 per tank. And while most competitors only include a reduced amount of ink to get started, Brother packs a year's worth of ink in its ultra high yield cartridges, along with the machine itself. According to Brother, the included ink can support an estimated 300 pages per month – 60% black-and-white pages and 40% color pages.

To further spread out the need to buy new ink cartridges, this model comes with an ink-saving mode that reduces color darkness and emphasizes any image outlines. Like most features in the MFC-J6545DW, this ink mode, and many others, can be accessed through the machine's 3.7-inch color touch screen. The Brother Page Gauge is another feature that makes the INKvestment Tank stand out. Page Gauge displays how much ink has been used and how much is left. It shows the number of pages you can print with the remaining ink as well.

Small businesses looking for a desktop MFC have a solid choice with the INKvestment tank, since its physical footprint is 22.5 x 18.8 x 12.2 inches and its weight is 44 lbs., making it one of the smallest devices on our list.  Though the printer side of the machine only supports up to tabloid-size paper (11 x 17), it can handle single-pass duplex copying and scanning with the 50-page automatic feeder. Coupled with the standard paper tray capacity of 250 pages and a multipurpose tray of 100 pages, this little machine can handle a lot of different jobs throughout the day.

Though the INKvestment tank can print at a maximum resolution of 4,800 x 1,200 dpi and scan at a max of 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, its onboard memory capacity is small at 128 MB. That low amount of memory could spell slower job times and is reflected in the print times of 22 pages per minute for black and white and 20 pages per minute in color. Copy times are also low at 15 pages per minute for monochrome and 11 pages per minute for color.

What this machine lacks in speed it somewhat makes up for it in its duty cycle. At a maximum of 30,000 pages per month and a recommended duty cycle of 2,000 pages per month, the INKvestment Tank has a higher duty cycle than its price tag would suggest.

Like other MFCs, the J6545DW can connect to the internet either through an Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi. An internet connection is important for this device so it can access files from cloud-based services like Google Drive, OneNote, Box for Business, Evernote and OneDrive. Mobile devices can also interface with the printer via a USB port, as well as NFC wireless technology. Additionally, Brother has its own proprietary cloud apps that work with Android and iOS apps like AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.

Once connected to the internet, the MFC protects the rest of your devices and network infrastructure by conforming with Wireless 802.11 security standards, as well as Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) standards that encrypt data streams as they move through the network.

While this device is a great, affordable little solution that most small businesses will appreciate, that lower price tag comes with some limitations. For instance, the standard memory storage was lower compared to other models, which could become a bottleneck if multiple jobs are sent to the unit concurrently.

If you have a midsize or large business, this may not be the printer for you. To save money on printing, your business would have to stay in the range of 300 pages per month. If you find your business needing to print more than that amount each month, you will buy ink more frequently, and those costs will add up.

Finally, this model does not have the advanced security features that more expensive models have. It has NFC and cloud connectivity capabilities, but that does not guarantee a fully protected system. Many other models we considered came with protective software, applications, and tools that assure your information is safe and secure.

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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.

If your small business relies on the fast and consistent flow of documents, a high-duty MFC is likely a worthwhile investment. After considering several models that fit the high-duty mold, we found that the Toshiba e-STUDIO8518A offered the highest output among its competitors, and had a feature set and price tag to match.

February 2021: Toshiba recently introduced the eConnect TouchFree mobile app, which enables users to operate copiers in the Toshiba e-STUDIO line from their iOS and Android mobile devices. The app mirrors the user interface on e-STUDIO machines, so users can fully control the copiers without physically touching them. This feature helps promote a flexible and sanitary office environment.

At first glance, the 8515A is instantly recognizable as a business-grade MFC. Coming in at 38 x 29 x 48 inches and weighing 430 lbs., this machine is one of the larger models within its group. And with a price tag of $46,680, it's also one of the most expensive machines we considered. Businesses looking to purchase the 8515A can abate the sticker shock by leasing it.

Coupled with the initial cost of the 8515A, business owners have to consider the added cost of supplies. This machine supports a standard paper capacity of 3,520 sheets, with a maximum of 6,020 sheets if using the optional tandem drawer. This MFC is a monochrome printer that relies on toner to mark up each page through its 300-sheet dual-scan document feeder. New cartridges from third-party sellers cost approximately $156 each. Toshiba estimates that each toner cartridge has a page yield of 106,600 pages at about 5% coverage.

As an MFC, the 8515A has scan, print and fax functionality to round out its copying capabilities. Built for small and midsize businesses, the 8515A can finish its first copy in 4.1 seconds, with an overall warmup time of approximately 20 seconds. According to Toshiba, the 8515 can handle up to 9,999 copies due to its 4GB of memory and 320GB self-encrypting hard drive. This machine can conduct 240 duplex scans per minute.

When it comes to printing, the 8515A runs at 85 pages per minute and can churn out up to 720,000 pages per month, making it the fastest and most prolific copier and printer in the group. As far as supported paper sizes go, the 8515A can handle sheets from 3.9 x 5.8 inches and 13 x 19 inches, as well as 12 x 47-inch banners and envelopes. That speed does not compromise quality, too, as it can print at a resolution of up to 3,600 x 1.200 dpi. In each one of its scanning, printing, and copying jobs, the 8515A utilizes Toshiba's patented ASICs to boost clarity and rich text renditions in each instance.

Though usually only offered as an add-on, faxing comes standard with the 8515A if the right landline is supplied. With a modem speed of up to 33.6 Kbps and an option for dual-line faxing, this model can handle 100 jobs and 2,000 destinations when equipped with a hard drive, with a maximum of 400 destinations per job.

Interacting with the 8515A is just as fully featured as some of the other aspects of the machine. Sporting a 10.1-inch tablet-style WVGA touch screen, this control panel is tiltable for varying angles of use and supports remote virtual network computing. The touch screen also has an optional wireless keyboard function to allow for hands-free operation.

With internet functionality being a major selling point for today's MFCs, the 8515A is no different. With a gigabit Ethernet connection and optional Wi-Fi functionality, this MFC can interface with cloud-based services like AirPrint and the Mopria Print Service. Android and iOS users can also use the e-BRIDGE Print & Capture app to interface with the machine. More analog users can utilize the system's USB port to copy and print files directly from a flash drive.

While connected to the internet, the 8515A relies on features like local user authentication; an on-board data scramble function; SCEP, IP address, and MAC address filtering; network service and port control; SSL (HTTP, IPP, LDAP, SMTP, POP, FTP, DPWS) and IPsec (IKEv1, IKEv2) encryption protocols; and various password-protection methods. The system is compliant with the IEEE2600.1 standard in High Security Mode. The hard drive is also secure due to its self-encrypted nature.

When it comes to limitations for this machine, it's hard to list them, because you already know what you're getting into with a high-duty printer like this one. For most small businesses, the 8515A may be too expensive and too big of a machine for their needs. This copier and printer is best suited for an office environment, so any entrepreneurs working from home may need to consider whether the floor space you'll need to commit to this model is worth it. Toner is also an expensive proposition, but its high yield could offset the cost.

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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 Staff
Andrew Martins has written more than 300 articles for business.com and Business News Daily focused on the tools and services that small businesses and entrepreneurs need to succeed. Andrew writes about office hardware such as digital copiers, multifunctional printers and wide format printers, as well as critical technology services like live chat and online fax. Andrew has a long history in publishing, having been named a four-time New Jersey Press Award winner.
Image Credit: Sjale / Getty Images
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