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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.

How to Know if MFPs Need to Be Repaired or Replaced

How to Know if MFPs Need to Be Repaired or Replaced

Printers, whether specialized devices of MFPs represent a sizeable investment for any company. As a result, it may be tempting to hold onto one as long as possible. That’s not always a bad strategy. However, like any machine, printers do eventually wear out – even with impeccable service, a printer will eventually reach the end of its natural life.

MFPs are built to last, and it can be difficult to identify when a device should be repaired or replaced. A good service technician will be able to tell the difference, but companies should be aware of the state of their printers as well. Read on to learn about why an MFP which lasts for a long time can be a problem, and how to tell when a device needs to be repaired or when it’s time to replace it entirely.

The Perils of MFPs That Are Built to Last

Today’s MFPs are designed to be the workhorse of the modern office. Reliable, robust, and efficient; they marry multiple functionalities under the roof of a single machine. This simplification of the print environment has made them a staple of today’s work environment. For most companies, they’re exactly what is needed to keep productivity streamlined. Plus, with proper maintenance, they’re able to stay running for a very long time.

However, the average printer lifespan is between four and five years depending on how extreme the print environment is. That’s plenty of time for a business to grow and develop printing needs beyond what the device is capable of delivering. Likewise, five years represents a tremendous amount of time in the rapidly developing office technology industry. It can make it difficult to find replacement parts or the right consumables such as cartridges or paper weights. It can also cause a company to miss out on innovations which transform office processes available in later models.

The peril of a device built to last is that it can become outdated long before a mechanical failure. Companies seeking to make their printer a long-term investment must consider the risks such a move entails.

When to Repair vs. When to Replace

The Sharp Awarding Winning MFPs are reliable and have a longer life span that most. For example, the Sharp AR-M550N was introduced 14 years ago and is still going strong.  Because of well-built models like the AR-M550N, it might be difficult to identify when a machine needs to be repaired, or when it needs to be replaced altogether. An authorized service technician will be able to tell the difference, but there are a few telltale signs when either option is more appropriate.

When to Repair an MFP

For most offices and machines, repairing the printer is the easiest and more cost-effective solution. Consider repairing an MFP when:

  • A specific, identifiable part is worn out, but the rest of the machine is fine.
  • Print quality has decreased, especially if the printer outputs blurry images or spots on the pages.
  • The manufacturer is still selling the model, or the manufacturer still sells the spare parts.
  • Patches for the printer software or firmware are still being released.

It’s completely normal for a printer to need maintenance. Like a car, routine maintenance and hardware repairs help prolong the life of a printer. It’s easy to prevent minor problems from causing more serious problems down the road.

When to Replace an MFP

Eventually, a MFP will need to be replaced altogether. However, with MFP’s lasting longer and longer, the moment when that occurs might not necessarily be the end of its mechanical life. Instead, there exist other clues to consider that a printer is no longer a great fit for an office. These include:

  • It’s difficult, if not impossible, to find spare parts or the correct consumables because the manufacturer stopped making them.
  • The office is outsourcing more and more print jobs because the internal printers can’t handle them.
  • The printer software is not compatible with the newer office computers.
  • The printer is restraining business processes which need to leverage more powerful technology.

MFPs are designed to be an integral part of the workflow. When they are no longer contributing to the overall productivity of an office, then it’s time to upgrade the print environment with a new device altogether.

Get the Best Printer for an Office Today

MFPs represent one of the most ingenious inventions in the office technology world. By combining multiple functions into one device, it’s much easier to improve productivity and keep employees focused on their work. Sharp series MFPs are among some of the most robust, reliable, and long-lasting devices on the market. They’re a solid choice for companies seeking to make the most out of their investment.

Smile helps companies achieve optimal productivity by selecting the right devices. Contact us today to explore your options.

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Sharp Has a New Line of Monochrome MFPs

Sharp Has a New Line of Monochrome MFPs

Has the topic of upgrading the office printer been floating around meetings recently? Good news: Sharp has a new line of monochrome MFPs – eleven new MFP/printers, to be exact.

For years, Sharp has made a name for itself, delivering innovative devices which propel offices, board rooms, and educational institutions to the next level of collaboration and productivity. With the introduction of their new Advanced Series multifunction printers, Sharp is now changing the way businesses think about their printing environment.

Smile Business Products is thrilled to introduce the new line of multifunction printers. Read on to learn exactly why they’re so exciting.

What’s New With Sharp

Sharp already had a line of color multifunction printers under the Advanced and Essential series. Announced in August 2019, these A3 monochrome workgroup MFPs are the monochrome counterparts of the former.

Monochrome, or black and white printing, is an invaluable setting for offices which need to print large quantities of documents rapidly but still retain a professional quality. With the monochrome addition to the Advanced series, Sharp users can now enjoy the marriage of unbridled speed with the many leading-edge features which the manufacturer loads into its devices.

Key Features of the Advanced Series

Several key features set Sharp’s Advanced series printers apart from the competition. Whereas MFPs are designed to be the workhorse of the modern office – and many fine selections exist on the market – Sharp takes the idea further with numerous unique features not commonly found in other devices. Working with a Sharp color or monochrome Advanced series, MFP involves features such as:

  • MFP Voice Feature, which allows users to give printers verbal commands to keep the process entirely hands free. This feature also works with Amazon Alexa, introducing a new layer of integration into the workplace.
  • Adobe® Embedded Print Engine technology lets users direct print PDFs with new heights of accuracy and clarity.
  • Application Portal makes printer administration easier than ever by creating a central interface where apps can be added, updated, or removed.
  • Multi-layered, leading-edge security features such as proprietary Firmware Attack Prevention and Self-Recovery modes.
  • Greater paper handling flexibility to support heavier papers, sizes up to 12” x 18”, and even print media that isn’t paper.
  • Walk-up motion sensors to detect approaching users and wake the machine, so it’s ready to go when it’s needed.
  • Multiple finishing options including the stacking, stapling, saddle-stitching or corner-crimping capabilities.
  • For offices with demanding and dynamic print environments, Sharp MFPs rise to the challenge. Enjoy printing power and efficiency married within one convenient machine.

Advantages of Sharp Advanced Series MFPs

Sharp monochrome MFPs are the latest addition of devices designed to help transform an office into a lean, efficient beehive of productivity. Offices which rely on Sharp to power their most critical devices enjoy advantages such as:

An Emphasis on Collaboration and Streamlined Workflows

The many features of Sharp’s MFPs are designed to enhance collaboration and document processes across a department or organization. Employees can:

  • Distribute, access, and work with documents easily through Sharp’s connectivity software.
  • Leverage mobile scanning and printing to keep business flowing while on the go.
  • Standardize and collate file types to keep data organized across teams.
  • Maximize productivity with flexible printer and copier solutions.

Industry-Leading Security Features From End to End

Sharp approaches security from an ecosystem perspective, introducing more than simply strong passwords and access controls. With Sharp in the office, users enjoy a secure environment which focuses on the document workflow, introducing layers of security such as:

  • Firmware attack prevention installed on the printer.
  • Authority groups and whitelisting to keep unauthorized users and software away.
  • Remote device management to keep security centralized.
  • End-of-lease data erasure to prevent private information from leaking.

Demonstrated Environmental Commitment

The new monochrome MFPs in the advanced Series adhere to the company’s Green Products Guidelines, which have won Sharp the Excellence Award from ENERGY STAR for several years in a row. An office using a product from this lineup will consume less power, benefit from recycled materials and benefit from the ability to upgrade the devices easily.

Upgrade the Office Printer With a Sharp Monochrome Advanced Series MFP Today

Smile Business Products is thrilled to introduce Sharp’s latest lineup of monochrome MFPs. These robust, technologically-advanced devices complement the modern office which needs printing power and next-generation security balanced with a commitment to environmental sustainability. With an array of capabilities and features, they’re the smart option for a company’s next printer upgrade.

Smile helps companies develop robust productivity infrastructure to support sustained success. Contact us today to learn more about Sharp’s latest innovations.