If you haven’t shopped for a printer recently, the models currently available for small offices might surprise you. Prices have decreased substantially over the past 5 to 10 years, yet devices have gotten better and the print quality much higher. You can find a good quality printer that does color printing for under $200.
We recently looked at printer lines suitable for small offices. We define a small office as having up to 5 people, with modest levels of usage. So that means these devices are suitable for a home office, or for a small business that does not require high volumes of printing and is satisfied with moderate printing speed. In other words, these printers are not for businesses that routinely print many thousands of pages per month and require high speed and high-volume paper feeders. Instead, the typical small office needs a printer that balances economy with convenience and features.
Also, most small offices get benefits from having several functions in one device. All-in-one printers include printing, scanning, copying, and faxing capabilities in one device, thereby saving space and money. That is why they are called “all-in-one” or multifunction devices. Today these are very popular among small businesses.
What’s more, today’s top all-in-one printers pack a surprising amount of technology in them. Simply put, printers are getting smarter — and they do more. Some of the printer lines below offer sophisticated features like wireless connectivity, printing directly from mobile devices, ability to download photographs directly from a camera, touch screen menus, and access to documents stored in the cloud. Look for more of these kinds of advanced technology features to become standard in the near future.
Today’s machines generally are more energy efficient than predecessors. You can leave your printer on all the time, but with power-saving mode it will use little power, and it won’t take forever to warm up when you finally do need it, either.
For most small offices, we recommend an inkjet device — versus a laserjet. Compared to a laserjet, inkjets in general are:
- smaller and lighter
- less expensive to buy
- better at printing photographs and documents containing images, than laserjets
- suited to relatively low volumes. If your printing volume is low, then low speed and capacity won’t be a negative. But if you need to print thousands of pages in a day, or regularly copy or scan long documents yet the document feeder only holds 30 pages, this can get old, fast.
If you need professional quality printing, such as for printed brochures and signage, or for occasional high-volume print jobs, we recommend your local print shop for those.
And of course, with visuals so much a part of today’s documents, you’re going to want a color printer, not just black and white.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of buying ink. Ink for inkjet printers can be expensive, and may add hundreds of dollars of cost per year even for a very small-volume office. Consumer Reports has tips for saving on ink costs.
Take a look at the options below. They are listed by company name in alphabetical order.
Top All-in-One Printers for Your Small Business
Brother Business Smart printers range in price from about $170 to $250. Basic features include touch screen displays and color printing. As you might expect, extra features come with the higher priced models. These printers all offer wireless connectivity with computers and mobile devices. You can also access documents from online accounts like Facebook, Picasa, Google Docs and Evernote and print them from the Web directly on these printers.
There’s another unique feature that comes with the Business Smart printers line. That’s the ability to customize your printer by creating different shortcuts for the functions you use most often.
Canon’s PIXMA line handles basic printing well, and specializes in printing photos and graphic documents. Canon also has four different PIXMA printers under $100. So this is a consideration depending upon your budget. Overall, prices range from about $70 to $150. The bare bones model still offers photo printing and editing options. The higher end models offer higher resolutions and other added features.
This line of all-in-one printers includes some options that are compact and basic. But there are also printers with more versatility and features for a slightly higher cost. Prices range from $100 to $200, so it depends on the specific features you are looking for in your printer and your budget.
Each of the four models has mobile and wireless printing options. They can also print black and white documents at much higher speeds. But, like all the printers you’ll find on this list, they also offer color printing. The pricier models have LCD screens and additional features like automatic two-sided printing and energy efficiency.
The less expensive models have fewer features and lower print speeds. But, on the plus side, they are more compact for a home office or small business office.
HP’s Officejet printer line is solid and proven, and ranges in price from about $100 to $400. You get basic features like wi-fi compatibility and duplex printing on all of these. The higher priced machines give you higher printing speeds, better resolution, and some more advanced features, most notably additional Web functionality.
Not all of the devices in this Kodak series have faxing capabilities, but they all print, scan, and copy. Some models also have features specific to photo printing like a separate photo tray for photo paper. All models include basic features like wireless and two-sided printing. Kodak doesn’t sell its Hero line of printers on its website, but popular retailers like Walmart carry them starting at $100 for the base model.
Kodak came out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013 after reorganizing. The focus now is on providing businesses with solutions.
Lexmark offers a series of three printers that are affordable and functional for most small offices. They range from about $200 to $400 in price. So they can be more expensive than some other available models in our listings. But they include features like LCD screens, mobile printing, dual core processors and built-in memory to handle complex documents.
Ricoh carries 25 different all-in-one printers with color printing. The devices vary in printing speeds and offer different specialties and even the ability to handle varying paper sizes. However, many are built for larger businesses and volumes and the prices reflect that. The SP models tend to be the most compact and still offer wireless printing and sharing capabilities. Prices for those models start at around $350.
The Xerox brand at one time was almost synonymous with copiers (ever heard of “xeroxing” something?). Today, Xerox tends toward the higher end when it comes to all-in-one devices, compared with some of the other manufacturers. For example, its WorkCentre 6605 model pictured above can handle up to 80,000 images per month, but sells for nearly $1,000.
However, Xerox does offer some less expensive, color multifunction devices starting at around $450. Still, most WorkCentre models are better suited for higher-volume offices.
Printer Photo via Shutterstock