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Grow Your Business Technology

Color Copier or Multifunction Printer: Which Is Best for Business?

Color Copier or Multifunction Printer: Which Is Best for Business?
Credit: Emmy1622/Shutterstock

Businesses looking to invest in printing and document technologies may get stuck on whether to choose a color copier or a multifunction printer (MFP). After all, the two types of machines offer very similar technology. With a range of vendors and offerings for all budgets, how should a business decide? 

Of course, there are pros and cons to both types of machines. A great place to start the decision-making process is to evaluate your needs and use cases. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • How many people will use the color copier or multifunction printer?
  • How much space do I have to store the machine?
  • Approximately how many copies do I think my business makes per month, and/or how much do we print?
  • What size of copies do we typically create?
  • Do we often require other functions, such as scanning or faxing?
  • What matters to us when it comes to quality and performance? For instance, is it resolution, speed or both?

Editor's note: Looking for a copier for your business? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

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Photocopiers have come a long way since they rose to popularity in the '60s. Many copiers today are in fact MFPs, but far more robust and powerful. For example, some color copiers support a wide range of paper sizes, users can select from various finishes and binding options, and auto-duplex has become the modern norm. These features offer larger businesses and enterprise-level workgroups the ability to create professional pieces in-house. For businesses that print a lot – and require professional-looking presentations, posters, bound documents and more – an investment in a copier may make sense. Think of it like your very own professional print shop, right around the corner from your desk.

However, as with any office equipment, the feature set needs to match your budget. It's not unheard of for color copiers to cost several thousand dollars, if not more than $10,000. Managed print services (leasing) present the opportunity to bundle pricing together for everything from ink to maintenance. Sometimes this saves on costs. [Interested in color copiers? Check out our reviews on our sister site, Business.com.]

As their name indicates, multifunction printers can do many things. Most MFPs scan, print and copy, and some of them fax. All these functions are doable with just one device, which makes them appealing for both home offices and businesses of all sizes. Many MFPs also come in relatively small form factors – packing many functions into a small space is another reason MFPs have risen in popularity.

If you're considering an MFP, again, you have to consider who is going to be using your machine and what the demands will be. This is important to monitor, since many MFPs can only do one thing at a time. If one office worker needs the device to scan (and is using it for 20 minutes for a larger project) and another worker needs to print or fax, they must take turns if you have one of these models. There are some high-end MFPs that can multitask, however.

For either a coper or MFP, you'll have to weigh your feature needs against your budget.

There isn't an easy answer on whether to get a color copier or an MFP, because they offer the same or very similar features. As you decide what to get for your business, you should consider your core feature needs, the number of people it must serve, your budget and required speed.

Joanna Furlong

Joanna Furlong is a freelance writer and content strategist based in Southern California. Her background is in digital marketing, but she’s been writing professionally for more than 10 years. She partners with startups, technology companies and small businesses across the U.S. to tell their brand stories through compelling content. And, she loves to report on the intersection where business, management and technology collide.