Finding the right printer for your office takes a bit of research. With dozens of available options and new printer models being released every couple of months, it’s easy to be drawn to a printer’s price tag and overlook essential features. Before you start price shopping, take a moment to answer a few questions to better direct your search:
What size office do you have?
Printers are designed for a range of workspaces and office sizes. Whether you are an office of five people or five hundred, finding a printer that matches up with your office size is vital so you can get the right output from your machine each month.
What features do you need?
From faxing to scanning to duplex printing, features can vary widely across printer brand, printer model and price range. Read up on features before you buy, (we have an extensive list below) and map out which ones are a top priority.
What’s your budget?
When considering budget, total cost of operation should be top of mind at all times. Don’t just think about how much you want to spend on the initial cost of the printer. Factor in the cost of replacement cartridges, their value relative to their page yield and the cost of replacing worn out parts, like the fuser unit or waste bin. We cover the basics of printer cartridge costs in detail further down the article under Cost per Page.
How many pages do you print per month?
Each printer cartridge offers a different page yield (the amount of pages a cartridge can print) and every printer has a different monthly duty cycle. Some cartridges have high yield options and some don’t. More important than the price of a printer, these two factors should be accounted for when shopping for a new printer. The difference in printing costs between one cartridge and another can be drastic, so you’ll want to find one that meets your needs and your budget.
In this guide, we will cover the 10 essential printer terms you should know before you buy so you can make a smart purchase. After we go over the terms, we will jump into some of our favorite business printers on the market today.
Print speed is key in a busy office. Some manufacturers call print speed “ppm” or “pages per minute,” but you might also see it as “ipm” which stands for “images per minute.” For offices that plan to share a printer between a number of employees, waiting for your document when the print queue is backed up can be a hassle. A speedy printer can instantly resolve that concern.
Cost per Page
Cost per page can make or break your printing budget. If you compared specs on any number of printers, you will quickly notice there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to page yield. The number of pages you can get from an individual cartridge can vary widely across printer models.
Our main piece of advice: Buy a printer with a page yield that is worth your company’s dime.
If you don’t, you will likely end up drowning in unnecessary printing costs. Determining the cost per page is relatively easy; just divide the printer’s page yield by the cost of the toner cartridge. You can find the page yield, or the approximate number of pages your toner can print, on the side of the cartridge box or on the specs table of your printer’s webpage. For example, the Brother TN880 super high yield toner cartridge offers a yield of 12,000 pages and is currently selling for $119.79 on Staples. After some quick division, your cost per page is .99 cents per page. We have an article that talks about ink efficient printers which mention a few office printers, if a low cost per page is your top priority.
To cut back on printing costs even more, consider getting compatible cartridges. Compatible (and remanufactured) toner cartridges offer the same number of prints and the same standard of quality as an original brand cartridge for a fraction of the price, bringing your cost per page down even further. You can get a compatible TN880 toner cartridge from LD Products that offers the same yield of 12,000 pages for just $17.99–that’s an 85% savings. Using compatible cartridges brings your cost per page down to just .14 cents per page! Here’s a video that illustrates the print quality comparison of LD brand toner versus original HP toner.
Monthly duty cycle
The monthly duty cycle is the maximum number of pages a printer can print per month without breaking down. If your office prints constantly, you will want to make sure you buy a unit with a generous monthly duty cycle. If you don’t print that often, you probably will never reach your printer’s monthly duty cycle, and it will likely not be a concern. Going beyond your printer’s monthly duty cycle will lead to worn out parts and eventually, shorten the lifespan of your printer. Before you buy, figure out the average number of prints your office goes through per month and be sure to that your proposed printer’s monthly duty cycle exceeds those expectations.
The majority of printers have the business user in mind, which means they can handle a range of paper sizes from envelopes to legal documents. Some basic compact models may offer a limited selection of sizes, so be sure to review the paper specs when shopping around.
Automatic duplexed print
Duplex, or dual-sided printing is great because it can save you a considerable amount of paper. Most printers will require you to manually feed the sheet of paper back into the printer in order to print on the opposite side. Automatic duplex printing does the heavy lifting for you, just select “two-sided printing” in your print preferences and your printer will automatically print on the opposite side.
Monochrome or color
Monochrome printers print solely in black and white and are ideal for offices that require clean, crisp prints and nothing else. Color printers cost more to operate (instead of one cartridge to worry about you’ll have two to four) but they are far more economical in the long run compared to most color inkjet printers if your office prints in color regularly.
Wireless connectivity is standard for the majority of printers these days. Most printer manufacturers have their own printing apps too, letting you easily print from your smartphone or tablet. You will find a handful that still require a direct connection through wired Ethernet or USB, which offers more speed.
In a small office, size matters. Take note of your proposed printer’s dimensions and make sure it will fit in the workspace back at the office. Quality compact laser printers are available, but they typically are not as powerful, offering less features and a slower page speed due to their size.
Most printers come with a standard warranty, the majority of which last about a year from the date of purchase. Not all warranties are the same however, so be sure to read up on the specifics of yours so you are not surprised should something happen to your machine. Some warranties cover defective parts and replacement while others include tech support. You can usually find more about your printer’s warranty in the specs table of the printer’s webpage.
We know that looking for an office printer can be tough so we’ve prepared an infographic that helps simplify the process. Below are some of our recommended printers. We’ve selected 6 printers based off of office size, cartridge yield and cartridge cost, touching on some of their unique features.
Home Office / Small Business
Currently selling on Amazon® for just $169.99*, Brother’s HL-6200DW offers print speeds of up to 48 ppm and a 520-sheet paper capacity that accommodates an entire ream of paper. Automatic duplexing saves time and paper by printing on both sides of the page and advanced security features let you password protect sensitive documents. The best feature of this printer is its super high yield TN880 toner cartridge. Capable of printing up to 12,000 pages per cartridge, toner replacement is a rarity. A TN820 standard yield cartridge and TN850 high yield cartridge are also available, but if you print a lot, it is more cost effective to go with the super high yield option. An original TN880 goes for $119.79, but you can buy an LD compatible version for far less at just $17.99! The drum unit is sold separately for this printer and generally needs to be replaced after the use of 3 or 4 toners. An original Brother DR820 drum is $101.59, and the LD compatible option is only $23.99.
Although much of this article touches on on laser printers, many businesses require reliable photo prints for their marketing materials. For in-house graphic design teams, inkjet printers are the way to go and Canon’s Pixma Pro-100 series offers professional results at a relatively low operating cost, selling for just $379.99 on Amazon. Capable of printing photos up to 13” x 19” on a range of paper types, a PictBridge connection lets you print directly from your digital camera or smartphone. This printer uses eight dye-based ink cartridges to produce vibrant colors and incredible detail. Canon sells each CLI-42 series cartridge for $16.99 each but you can find compatible Canon CLI-42 cartridges for $6.49 on LDProducts.com!
Xerox’s Phaser 6510 is a compact color printer designed to keep your small office running smoothly. This printer uses black, cyan, magenta and yellow toner cartridges, which are sold in a standard capacity, high capacity and extra high capacity cartridge size. With print speeds of up to 30 ppm and simple wireless options for any device, you can quickly print quality color documents from your smartphone. An original Xerox 106R03480 high capacity black cartridge has a 5,500-page yield and goes for $124.99 at Staples. Each color toner provides a yield of 2,400 pages for $119.99 each. LD offers a compatible replacement for the Xerox 106R03480 high capacity black toner for just $39.99 and the individual color cartridges for $29.99.
Medium – Large Sized Business
The Brother MFC-L6700DW printer offers many of the same perks as the previously mentioned HL-6200DW. With the added bonus of fax, copy and scanning features, you get more flexibility for a larger office at a $499.99 price tag on Amazon. It delivers the same print speed (up to 48 ppm), same 520-sheet paper capacity and uses the same super high yield TN880 toner cartridges for low cost, high volume printing. A 70-page capacity duplex auto document feeder scans both sides of the page and a USB port on the front of the machine lets you scan directly to your flash drive. Purchase the LD brand compatible TN880 toner cartridge for a cost savings of 85%!
The Xerox VersaLink line a relatively new printer line with forward thinking features, making it a perfect option for a growing tech savvy office. One of the least expensive VersaLink options is the B400 at $389.63 on Amazon, offering print speeds of up to 47 ppm and a 110,000 page monthly duty cycle. Xerox’s ConnectKey® technology directly connects the printer to Google Drive®, Microsoft® OneDrive® and DropBox®, providing you with instant access to your most frequently used print-related apps on an easy to use touch screen interface. Total cost of ownership was definitely considered when Xerox designed this series. There are three different toner cartridge options, the standard yield 106R03580 prints 5,900 pages, the high capacity 106R03582 prints 13,900 pages and the extra high capacity 106R03584 prints an incredible 24,600 pages. Cartridge price varies considerably, depending which toner you go with, and the price of the extra high yield is about the same cost as the printer at $379.99. LD Products will be selling compatible toner cartridges for far less very soon. If you would like to be notified when our compatible cartridges are available, sign up with your email here.
Featuring print speeds of up to 40 ppm and a maximum 2,300-sheet capacity, Canon’s Color ImageCLASS LBP712Cdn is a color laser printer that is built for business. Priced at $831.99, it’s more of an investment upfront, but with high quality results and cartridges that tout a generous page yield, it should fit in well with any busy office. Color laser printers have come a long way in recent years, with many, including the LBP712Cdn, capable of printing a decent photo. However, if you need gallery grade photo prints on photo paper, inkjet printers are still the way to go. Cartridges are sold in a standard capacity and high capacity size, with high capacity offering almost double the number of prints. The Canon 040 H black high capacity cartridge has a page yield of 12,500 for $210.99 and each color cartridge prints 5,400 pages for $188.99 apiece. LD brand compatible cartridges are considerably cheaper, with each cartridge selling for just $84.99. LD also sells a bundle pack of all four toners for $339.96!
There is a lot to keep in mind when choosing a printer for your office. Now that you know what to look for, you can find a printer that meets all of the essential needs of your business! If you have any questions about one of the printers mentioned here, or if you’ve found a printer that you love and want us to know about it, drop us a line!
*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from Amazon and Staples. All prices effective as of July 20, 2017. OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.