IT Outsourced  

The damn printer...

This is my funniest printer story. I had a client who printed payroll cheques for about 120 staff members. This was long before electronic payroll submission was around. She insisted that the printer worked better when I was in the building, and if I happened to be on a service call when payroll was due, she would make me wait until the cheques had printed. Okay – it’s not THAT funny, but the really funny printer story is dirty and I can’t tell it online…

The most widely used printer in business today is the laser printer. Manufacturers change models frequently which allow them to capture you into buying their toner cartridges and keep them ahead of the knock-off toner manufacturers. Occasionally you might see some innovation, but mostly it is about selling toners.

When I work with clients to make printer recommendations, I have some really basic guidelines that I use. Obviously the biggest is past experience, particularly in how they handle warranty repairs and troubleshooting. After that, I have a checklist I review. You can review these the next time you are evaluating printers for your organization.

Pages per minute - This is the fastest time to produce a single sheet of printed paper. It usually is rated for the lowest quality print, at a certain print density (5% being the standard).

Time to first page - Again, this is the fastest time it takes to produce the first page of a print job.

Duty Cycle - (Maximum and Recommended) number of pages per month. This is a fairly meaningless number provided by the manufacturer which ‘rates’ the printers ability to produce documents.

These are all pretty meaningless numbers but what are critical to see are the patterns. The most critical component of the printer is usually referred to as the ‘printer engine’. A manufacturer might produce 30 different models of printer, but have 5 or 6 engines. You will find that the lowest quality printers will have all the same pages per minute, time to first page, and duty cycles. That’s because they all use the same engine. The bottom end printers are largely disposable, designed for the home users/retail market/Box stores. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a new printer than a replacement toner in this market. If your company uses an IT company to install and maintain printing devices, and you want the most cost effective solution, you can use these numbers to quickly evaluate your choices, compare them to existing printers in your organization and make the right choice. The cost of toners is not usually an issue, unless you are producing high volumes of paper regularly.

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About the Author

Mark Smed started as a self-employed consultant, integrating computers into small business in 1989.  The range of work expanded into installing networks and consulting with businesses on the fast paced changes in technology.  As his career progressed he taught Network Administration at a small business college and continued to build his base of clients. 

Today, Mark works for Northern Computer Inc. (http://www.northerncomputer.ca) as a consultant, specialist and technician.  His client base continues to grow and many of his clients have worked with him for over 10 years now.  In 2001, Mark joined the Network Professional Association (http://www.npa.org) and now sits on the board of directors and is responsible for publishing the Network Professional Journal for the association.

Mark can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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