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The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: October 2004

More bang for your printing buck

October 2004
Andrew Seldon

Printers have been around for ages and they have not changed much, at least not on the outside. Anyone in the market for a printer today, be it for a home printer or a business system (or systems) has a plethora of potentials to choose from. Today's printers deliver previously unthinkable pages per minute in stunning colour, while costing less, but there are changes on the horizon offering more functionality for less money.
Of course, the previous statements are correct if one considers printers restricted to the more popular inkjet or laser printers. Although most people would consider the old impact/dot matrix range of printers dead and gone, these systems still command a large share of the printer market and make their manufacturers plenty of money.
David Terry, GM of TallyCom, local distributors for TallyGenicom, notes that the impact market is still the cheapest option around when looking at cost per page in high-volume printing environments. Although BMI's printer statistics for the past year show a year-on-year decline in the line printer market, TallyCom has posted a 25% increase in unit sales. Especially in the high-end market, 500 cps (characters per second) and above, line printers are showing tremendous growth for TallyCom.
"Even though impact printers can deliver reliable printing at a cost of only 3 cents per page, it is hard to beat a line printer with a cost of 1 cent and below for companies with large print requirements," says Terry. "In addition, for high volume printing, who is going to willingly pay 10 cents per page and above for laser printing? And then there is the question of multipart printing."
Epson's Hans Dummer agrees that dot matrix is still a big earner for Epson, but that these printers are moving into the back office and out of the limelight. In their place we find inkjets and lasers dominating and inkjets in particular are tops for colour and photo printing - as well as for business use.
Robbie Johnson, manager in HP's IPG says that business inkjets are still selling well. Although many people believe inkjets have high running costs, because of experiences in the retail market, business inkjets still come in under the costs of entry-level lasers, as many companies are finding out. And new developments are still underway in this market.
HP's new inkjets will offer four separate inks from four heads to ensure companies only pay for the ink they use. Companies often use more of a specific colour for logos and letterheads, meaning other colours are wasted. Four heads will solve this problem, ensuring they only pay for what they use.
But lasers are all the news today. The news from Epson is that its new colour system will offer colour prints at mono pricing. Printing 21 pages per minute (ppm), this system will be available this year and boasts only a 13 second wait for the first page.
Lasers with colour
Johnson says colour laser demand is increasing at an alarming rate, with over 200% growth. In the past, he says, cost, colour and speed were hindrances to colour laser growth, but technology has overcome these problems.
According to Xerox, the swing to colour has a solid scientific foundation. The company says colour increases learning and retention by 78%, which can both improve brand recognition and increase motivation by up to 80%. More importantly, Xerox says colour helps sell up to 80% more and increases payment response by up to 30% - and colour also gains readership by 80%.
Neil Rom, MD of Printacom says, Oki has also experienced the growth in colour laser sales, but it strives to offer customers more than faster printing times. He says Oki focuses on simplifying and reducing user input with features like colour balancing and others, to ensure users can print top-quality documents without battling for a long time to get all the printer's settings correct.
Oki's single-pass technology can deliver 32ppm, with the entry-level printers delivering 12ppm and costing less than R4000. Because of the single-pass technology, the printers deliver the same printing speeds for colour and mono prints.
HP has introduced two new printers, the LaserJet 2550 series and LaserJet 4650 series. Branded as HP's most affordable colour laser printers, the 2550 series delivers high-performance of up to 19 ppm in black and 4 ppm in colour. The 4650 series is designed for workgroups of up to 20 users and offers a 533 MHz processor and up to 544 MB for memory.
Of course, most companies still only require black and white printing and all printer companies still cater for this market. For example, Lexmark recently unveiled its latest family of desktop mono laser printers named the E-series. The new line-up offers versatile products for home office, SME and large enterprise desktop printing needs.
More demand for MFDs
While many companies still rely on traditional printers to handle their printing tasks, more are trying to consolidate costs by turning to multifunctional devices (MFDs), or as they are also known, all-in-one (AIO) devices. Gartner Dataquest has found that in the US, the inkjet printer market declined by 9,1% year over year in unit sales in the first quarter of 2004. At the same time, the company found that first-quarter 2004 inkjet AIO unit sales grew 32,4% year over year.
The research company adds that the success of the AIO category is attributable to three primary factors: "the obvious value proposition of having one unit that can print, copy, scan and often fax; the influx of more units into the market from vendors such as Lexmark and Epson; and the decline in average selling prices. Flatbed AIOs continue to be the most popular type of unit by a large margin over fax-based sheetfed units."
Gartner Dataquest believes that AIOs will continue to gain more of the total inkjet market, as sales of inkjet printers continue to decline, although the drop in sales over the next couple of years will not be as steep as it was over the past few years. "Average selling prices on inkjet printers and AIOs will continue to decline overall, but there will be more opportunity for more-expensive, specialised models such as those targeted at photo printing."
In eStrategy, we will examine the high-end machines, where many companies save by using MFDs, however in this article we will focus on the SME market with its limited printing/scanning/copying needs (as well as faxing in many cases).
MFDs playing in this market offer businesses the ability to combine features often used, but more often than not, not used enough to warrant outlays for separate devices. While costs of the hardware may seem like a bargain, when selecting an MFD, care should be paid to the costs of printing as these systems can be expensive (when using inkjet technology especially).
The new HP LaserJet 3020/3030, available from Rectron, has been designed specifically for individuals or small workgroups that require laser printing, copying, colour scanning and faxing (in the 3030 only) at a cost-effective pricing. The LaserJet 3020/3030's Instant-on Technology virtually eliminates warm-up time and allows a first page printing speed of 10 seconds - this also saves costs by consuming less energy and realising less wear on the engine.
Canon is not falling behind either. Canon SA has introduced the LaserBase MF3110, the company's entry-level model of its laser printing MFP range, to local SOHO (small office home office) users. With only one cable, one power source, one driver the MF3110 is designed to save time, space and money.
When used as a copier or printer, the MF3110 delivers prints at 20ppm. The 64 MB printer memory and fast processing with ScOA+ (Smart Compression Architecture) ensure print jobs start almost immediately after clicking 'Print', while SURF (surface rapid fusing) technology virtually eliminates warm-up time, resulting in a rapid first printout.
Documents, cards, photos, books and 3D objects can all be scanned on the flat bed at 1200 x 2400 dpi resolution (9600 x 9600 with enhancement). A 'Scan to PDF' function provides single step scanning to PDF file format.
Of course there are far more products on the market, designed for multifunctional use in the small business. Companies with large printing or copier loads will not be satisfied with the general performance of the SME-focused machines as they are designed to do many things, but not large loads of things. A couple of workhorses are mentioned elsewhere in the feature.
In a world of ever-changing technologies, printers simply print. The complicated bits and pieces that make faster and more colourful, even photo-quality printing possible are hidden below the cover. In fact, nobody cares what is under the cover of a printer as long as it prints as required and does not cost a fortune.
Fortunately, printing vendors still find themselves in a competitive market and squeezing the last few drops of toner, an extra page per minute or even reducing the cost per page by a fraction of a cent can end up a competitive differentiator. Therefore the endless competition to beat each other will ensure users always get a little bit extra with each new generation of printer, whether it is faster or cheaper printing, or even more reliable systems. For once, it seems that the customers are getting the best deal.
Epson introduces Image Matching III
Epson is announcing its future strategy to release print image matching III-compatible printers, allowing printing from cameras, video cameras and camera phones currently supporting print image matching.
As digital cameras and camera-equipped mobile phones deliver increasing image quality and resolution, the desire to create attractive, faithful reproductions and prints of digital photographs, is also growing. To respond to this demand, Epson has developed Image Matching III, with improved colour-correction functionality.
Image Matching III enables the user to correct colour, contrast and saturation, resulting in more realistic photographic prints. There is also a new monochrome print command that enables black and white printing with rich gradations.
HP LaserJet 3380 lowers print costs, provides faxing functionality
One of the most valuable innovations in the printing market over the past decade has been the integration of numerous complementary devices into what is today commonly termed a multifunction device (MFD) or all-in-one device.
The latest instalment in HP's range of MFDs, namely the LaserJet 3380 provides business users with cost-effective printing, scanning, copying and faxing functionality, through the use of the more affordable laser technology.
"The benefits of using laser technology in a MFD stretch far beyond reduction in costs however," says Drikus van der Walt, product manager at Tarsus Technologies. "The monochrome laser printing unit utilised by the LaserJet 3380 is capable of printing and copying pages at a rate of 19 pages per minute (ppm) and delivers the first page within 8 seconds of the user sending the print command from their computer."
Faxing is a valuable addition to HP's range of laser-based MFDs, since it provides a substantial speed gain on the use of inkjet-based technology and goes a long way to ensuring that costs are kept at a lower level than what a conventional standalone fax machine would deliver. Providing the receiving fax machine is capable of the same high-speed, the 3380 has the ability to transmit pages at 33,6 kbp, once again saving on the business's phone bill.
Echoing the market's sentiments about addressing the SME and departmental space, the LaserJet 3380 is aimed squarely at offices within the region of five staff members, delivering a 10 000 page per month duty cycle.
"With its small footprint and high-quality components, the 3380 delivers the kind of functionality smaller offices both need and can rely on. Most importantly however, all-in-one devices lower the company's total cost of ownership and are priced far more competitively than the various standalone devices put together," van der Walt concludes.
For more information contact, Tarsus 011 531 1000.
Wireless printing concept for Nokia phones
HP and Nokia are working together on a printing application for Series 60 phones based on Bluetooth. The work is designed to enable consumers and business professionals to print content from their phones to HP Bluetooth enabled printers at the touch of a button.
With the printing application, users of Series 60 phones such as the Nokia 7650 and Nokia 3650 could select various types of content from the phone and send it to an HP Bluetooth enabled printer via the Basic Print Profile (BPP) for printing.
The Bluetooth printing application, currently in development at HP, is targeting functionality that could allow users to print items such as photos, multimedia message service (MMS) messages with images, e-mail, short message service (SMS), notepad files, contacts and calendar items from their Series 60 phones. With mobile phone printing capabilities, the function of the phone extends beyond verbal communication and would give consumers a new level of convenience and freedom, wirelessly.
Additional information at: http://www.hp.com/go/mobileprinting
A versatile mid production system from Océ
For those aiming to print between 150 000 and a million prints per month, Océ has introduced the VarioPrint 2110. Offering 105 black and white prints per minute, the system is ideally suited to the corporate and commercial markets, ie, for large companies with their own printrooms and for companies that make prints for others, such as print and copy shops.
The VarioPrint 2110 has the productive power to handle dynamic document workflows in commercial and corporate printrooms. Even complex jobs with multiple tabs, post process colour inserts, single- and double-sided pages and precise finishing requirements are handled without a loss in productivity. The Océ VarioPrint 2110 is the sensible answer for demanding, professional production environments.
The VarioPrint 2110's sophisticated array of applications include diverse, complex documents in both analog and digital, tabbed jobs, mixed-stock and colour inserts. The system can be connected to inline finishing equipment such as inline binders, stackers or booklet makers.
The system's easy-to-use graphical interface allows the user to print, copy and scan jobs with one push of a button. This takes all the complexity out of the most advanced digital or hard-copy jobs even in concurrent operations like next-job programming, scanning, printing and ripping. Job preparation and machine production occur independently, enabling the operator to start, stop, reshuffle and edit jobs to meet deadlines. The Océ Copy Press image-transfer technology transports the image to the paper instead of the other way around, making the paper path significantly shorter and making paper jams virtually impossible. The system has the ability to produce on oversized and custom-sized media and has a capacity of 4600 oversized sheets.
For more information contact Océ South Africa, 011 661 9555.


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