Comparing MFPs: How to Choose the Best One for the Job

Anyone who is in the market for a multifunction printer (MFPs) has endured the headache of making heads or tails of all options out there. To add to that challenge, printers are an investment for any business no matter the size. With top of the line models ranging into the thousands of dollars, choosing the wrong device represents a sizable risk. Likewise, startups and small business budgets may make cheaper models more attractive but threaten to limit an office’s printing power.

Both risks may send a sales team scrambling to research the best overall multifunction printer. Here’s a hint: it doesn’t exist. The best device depends on the company’s needs, its budget, and the trajectory of its growth. Read on to learn what this means, and how to identify a company’s printing needs.

The Multiple Options for Multifunction

 Today, MFPs come in an impressive spectrum of printing power – from stripped-down, basic devices for home office users to sophisticated production presses that happen to photocopy, too. In general, MFPs are divided into four classes:

1. All-in-One Printers. The smallest and simplest form of multifunction devices on the market, they’re designed to empower home users with scanning and printing. They’re cheap, but businesses and even most home offices will find AiO printers too small and limited in their capabilities.

2. Small Office/Home Office Printers. These devices are still small enough to sit on a desk but may deliver photocopying or even faxing powers to an office. Designed for professionals running a startup out of their home, they’re worth looking into for very small companies manned by simply one or two people.

3. Office Multifunction Printers. For most businesses, the office MFP is the most convenient, affordable, and flexible option available. These devices range from the size of a mini-fridge to that of a full-sized fridge but pack into them numerous document tools and integration capabilities to fit them seamlessly into a wider productivity ecosystem. They’re printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, and sometimes more – all at once.

4. Production Multifunction Printers. Occupying a middle ground between office MFPs and high production presses, these devices blend the functionality of the office MFP with the printing power of production presses. Companies turn to these devices when they need advanced finishing options or increased flexibility with their settings to accomplish specific printing goals.

Identifying Office Needs

With MFPs running the gamut of small, desktop devices to production-level machinery, the best place to start a search for a new printer isn’t the internet. It’s in the office. Take the time to identify the company or department’s printing needs, then match those needs with one of the classes of printers above. Here are a few ideas to help get the process started.

Sales & Marketing Departments

Sales and marketing need professional print capabilities to help them make a flawless first impression to attract new clients. Make sure they can exercise creativity and flexibility but also have access to integration capabilities to move documents rapidly.

Consider: A mid-grade to high-end office MFP. For a demanding print environment, discuss the possibility of a production MFP.

Avoid: Anything smaller than an office MFP.

Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare organizations need to move documents rapidly, but they also need to keep them secure. For these professionals, efficiency, security, and integration are key to maintaining optimized workflows.

Consider: An especially fast monochrome office MFP with integration capabilities.

Avoid: Color printing and production capabilities are likely unnecessary in these offices. 

Government Offices

Like healthcare offices, government offices rely on their printers to keep information flowing to the systems and people they manage. However, government offices also face budget cuts, high print volumes, and fast-paced environments.

Consider: An office MFP which supports increased paper capacity, greater print speeds, and a large monthly volume.

Avoid: Production MFPs are too much of the wrong type of printing power.  

Legal Firms

If there’s one thing which defines a legal firm’s printing needs: it’s text. From scans of books to case studies, law firms need flawlessly printed, perfectly legible documents to succeed.

Consider: An office MFP that uses laser technology and has advanced document format settings. Color printing might be helpful depending on the firm.

Avoid: Production MFPs, inkjets, and small office printers will not support these demanding document needs.

Schools and Campuses

Printers on campuses see some of the heaviest use of them all. Whether handling the essays of thousands of students each day or supporting a graphics design department, printers on campus need to be integrated, robust, and use consumables efficiently.

Consider: A mid-grade office MFP that utilizes high-yield toner cartridges and has integration capabilities such as with a Chromebook. A production MFP may prove beneficial in some cases.

Avoid: Anything with overly sophisticated print hardware, settings or that cannot handle a print queue from a computer lab.

Get the Right MFP with a Smile

What’s the best MFP? The one that meets the print environment’s needs. Begin by identifying those needs, then reach out to Smile to help you with the rest. We’ll help you identify a handful of models that will work with your company, budget, and users.

Smile helps companies get the tools and strategies they need to succeed. Contact us now.

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