The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: July 2002

Seven factors to consider when investing in a colour printer/copier

1 July 2002
Marianna Gdanis: Colour Division product manager, Minolta South Africa

Colour printing and copying is coming of age in the workplace and moving into the mainstream of everyday business communications. Proposals, presentations, even internal reports are being created and reproduced in colour to communicate messages more persuasively and with greater impact.
Scientific analysis of the psychographics of colour shows that people presented with colour documentation are 20% more likely to read the documents, 40% more likely to retain what they have read, and 70% more likely to comprehend what they have read.
Users can make costly mistakes if they simply buy on price. A number of factors should be taken into consideration when purchasing a colour printer/copier.
Marianna Gdanis: Colour Division product manager, Minolta South Africa
Marianna Gdanis: Colour Division product manager, Minolta South Africa
Consideration 1: Total cost of ownership
Over a three year period, only 6% of the total cost of a typical desktop printer will come from hardware, while 94% will come from consumables such as ink, toner, paper, imaging cartridges and fusing units.
For example, an apparently inexpensive R1500 inkjet printer can cost more than R24 000 over a 3-year period. It is here that laser printers and digital copier/printers - although more expensive to purchase - offer lower running costs per page.
Consideration 2: Impact on network
Organisations need to consider the impact of the colour device on the network.
Large colour print jobs on normal laser or inkjet printers can slow down the network considerably.
Consideration 3: Quality of image resolution
The number of dots per inch that the device can render is an important factor to consider when investing in a new colour device. Even though it is generally accepted that the higher the resolution, the better the quality will be, resolution is not the only factor that influences the output quality. The introduction of sophisticated technology that improves the range of shades and gradations that can be achieved, also influences the quality of the image, and users should take the time to understand the technology employed by the device. In addition, the media or paper used will also influence the quality of the image, and most devices produce better quality images on glossy paper, which is costly. It is therefore best to test the quality of the prints on standard bond paper, which will provide a cost-effective solution in the longer term.
Consideration 4: Ease of use
For businesses to communicate effectively in colour, all users should be able to print and copy as simply and straightforwardly as possible. Display panels should be designed for simplicity and operating procedures should be easy to follow. Check whether the paper paths are short and easily accessible so that if a mis-feed occurs, it is easy to clear.
Consideration 5: The right supplier and after sales service
Once a connected colour copier becomes part of your office, the real cost is when it is not working.
A good supplier in today's market has to support all the traditional copier-technologies, have the latest software, firmware-upgrades, advise on loading drivers, understand how the customers wish their product to be integrated into their network, understand colour-management, and have ongoing access to consumables and technical support to keep their customers happy. Often the supplier offering the cheaper deal makes cutbacks to survive, and the customers ultimately pay the price. It is recommended that users choose a supplier who will repay its customer's trust in placing a fair-priced order with a genuine and well-funded service backup.
Consideration 6: Buy or rent?
It has long been believed that buying equipment outright is the best financial policy. These days, however, renting a digital colour copier/printer can not only provide a natural upgrade path, but can also offer significant savings over a three-year period.
Today an organisation buys the latest digital colour copier/printer with the fastest, most advanced software and an array of useful features, which may well change the way the organisation operates. In real terms, this may be almost obsolete in three years' time, when the equivalent equipment may be offering twice the speed and even more advanced features at less than today's price.
Consideration 7: Controlling access
Having made an investment for the printing of business colour within your organisation, the protection of your investment from 'non-commercial colour volume' is a very important consideration for businesses today.
When purchasing a colour device, users should look for 'copy track', which restricts access to the device to specified users or departments only, and the number of pages printed can be recorded.

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