Photocopiers are no longer necessarily big, bulky office machines weighing a metric ton, or rare and expensive little devices with miserable performance. With the introduction of multifunction printers, the same machine which does the printing and scanning can work as a perfectly fine photocopier while sitting on a desktop. But are they good enough to be used as desktop photocopiers for small businesses?
What are the advantages of these de facto desktop photocopiers? Which criteria may be observed to choose the best model for one’s needs? Is it better to buy this kind of devices or to lease them? And finally, which models could be the best desktop photocopiers in 2019?
Choosing a desktop photocopier: why and how
Multifunction printers used as desktop photocopiers definitely have many strong advantages compared with traditional free-standing copiers. Several key specifications should be looked into when selecting the best machine for one’s needs and budget.
Advantages of desktop photocopiers
Multifunction printers were designed to be as user-friendly an alternative to traditional copiers as possible, which gives these desktop photocopiers many advantages:
- They’re much smaller and lighter than traditional copiers (it’s just like a big box on the desktop weighing less than 10 or even 5 kilogrammes), which is especially important for small offices,
- Although they are so small, they don’t only copy, they can also simply scan documents to send them to a computer or to an e-mail recipient, or print documents from a computer or any other connected device,
- They may use inkjet printing technology, which allows higher quality copies of complex images or photos than traditional office laser printers,
- They’re also much cheaper to buy than traditional copiers or the very few models of dedicated desktop copiers available.
Tips for choosing desktop photocopiers
Several factors criteria should be researched to compare multifunction copiers used as desktop photocopiers:
- If size is important enough to prefer a multifunction printer over a traditional copier, size can be important enough to choose the smallest multifunction printer,
- Laser printing technology is now also available for desktop format multifunction printers, but at this size, it’s not always faster than inkjet models,
- In either case, first page print time is a key specification for these copiers,
- Copying speed is naturally a key factor, but bear in mind that most of the time, only printing speed is advertised, and very rarely the scanning speed – copying something adds both procedures,
- The quality of copies has to be evaluated with the printing resolution but also with the scanning resolution of the machine,
- Paper capacity is important, not only for printing (paper trays with over 100 pages are respectable), but also for scanning. Automatic document feeders therefore make a world of difference in photocopying tasks – a 30-page capacity for these feeders is a good start –, especially when they allow automatic double-sided scanning,
- Users also need to decide whether colour copies are needed. It doesn’t make that much of a difference in price for inkjet models, but it arguably does for laser models. In either case, cost-per-page soars, so it’s extremely important to check the price of ink supplies for any specific model. Note that even models which can only copy to black-and-white can scan in colour, so that the scanned image can be saved and printed using another device,
- Controls are also important, especially when a multifunction printer, normally piloted from a PC, is to be used as a desktop photocopier – touchscreen control panels are definitely a plus.
Getting a desktop photocopier: leasing and buying
In the UK, desktop photocopiers can be either purchased outright or leased. Each of these two solutions has its advantages and disadvantages for small and large businesses.
Buying a desktop photocopier
Buying a desktop photocopier has become quite affordable, with the cheapest models good enough for office use starting at under £120.
There are many more models to choose from than with leasing companies, which may only have a few models in their available product catalogue.
Buying the photocopier means that it becomes an asset of the company, and VAT is fully deductible. This asset gets amortised, year after year in the company’s accounting books.
Buying the hardware is actually more economically interesting than leasing it because there is no minimum fee to pay in months when it isn’t used at all.
Also, users can choose any compatible consumables they want, and potentially save a lot compared with consumables provided by leasing companies in their service contracts.
Besides the upfront investment needed, one drawback of buying the photocopier is that the user is fully responsible for the maintenance of the machine.
Leasing a desktop photocopier
Leasing a desktop copier allows users to consider much more expensive and productive models, which they couldn’t afford to buy outright.
At the end of the leasing plan, the machine can be sold to the user at a discounted rate.
Leasing also allows users, under certain conditions, to change hardware and get a more modern model.
Finally, leasing often comes with a contract for maintenance and supplies, so that the user only pays for one monthly bill covering all copying costs. This is a truly hassle-free solution.
The major drawback of leasing plans is that they tie the user with the provider for a long period of time, so it’s really crucial to read all the fine print in the contract to avoid any bad surprise. The supplies may also come at a higher price than if purchased separately.
A selection of the best cheap desktop photocopiers in 2019
With the introduction of multifunction printers, there are now dozens of desktop photocopiers to choose from, compared with the handful of dedicated devices which were available earlier. Reputed manufacturers such as Brother, Xerox, Samsung, Canon or Epson all have models in our list of best desktop photocopiers.
The MFC-J6945DW is one of Brother’s high-range multifunction printers, allowing double-sided A3 print and double-sided A3 scan.
Paper capacity is really impressive with 500 sheets in the main trays and 100 additional sheets in the multi-purpose tray. The 50-page automatic document feeder makes scanning multiple documents a breeze, and the 35 pages per minute printing speed is really fast for an inkjet printer. Finally, the 3.6-inch colour touchscreen makes it easy to control every operation independently from a printer.
This model can be purchased at just over £500.
Xerox WorkCentre 3215/NI
Xerox’s WorkCentre 3215 is a very affordable A4, black-and-white multifunction printer which can be used as a credible desktop printer, with its 40-sheet automatic document feeder and 250-page tray. Print speed is respectable at 28ppm, and the first page can come out after just 8.5 seconds.
This model can be bought for under £200.
Samsung has a reputation for being the producer of the cheapest colour laser printers, and the C480FW is no exception. For as low as £235, buyers get a machine which can scan, print, copy and fax all kinds of A4 documents in colour. And there’s a 150-page tray for printing, and a 40-page automatic document feeder.
If printing speeds are a bit low for a laser machine, the scanner does a great job with a resolution of 4800x4800dpi.
Canon PIXMA TS9550
Canon’s PIXMA TS9550 is one of the relatively rare multifunction colour printers which support the printing A3 documents. It doesn’t support the scanning of A3 documents though, so it’s a case of copying A4 documents to turn them into A3 documents through simple settings.
A 20-page automatic document feeder with automatic double-sided scanning makes it really easier to photocopy large numbers of documents, all the more so as there are three different paper trays for as many document sizes.
If the printer is rather on the slow side, the scanner has a very good resolution at 4,800x1,200dpi.
The machine costs under £200, and ink costs are kept low thanks to an ink tank system rather than an ink cartridge system.
Epson EcoTank ET-4750
Known for its exceptional printing quality, Epson has also introduced refillable ink tanks as a way to save money on cost-per-page: users no longer need to buy expensive ink cartridges but can simple by bottles of compatible ink. A full tank gets you over 11,000 prints!
This is one reason why the selling price of this machine is a little higher than the inkjet competition at just under £350.
However, for this price, users get a 4-in-1 multifunction printer with a 250-page tray, 30-page automatic document feeder, and an impressive resolution of 4,800x1,200dpi.
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