You Need a Printer? We Got Printers

Friday Oct 28th 2005 by Lauren Simonds
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Three major companies have released a total of 41 printers. Talk about something for everyone. We take a look at what they offer.

The good news, when it comes to printers, is that you've never had more choices. The bad news, however, is that you've never had more choices. Today's small businesses have a huge variety of printers from which to choose, including inkjets, lasers and multifunction machines — and that just covers the major categories.

Dig deeper and you'll find a seemingly endless number of options: printers with wireless, Ethernet or USB connections, low-volume, high-volume and wide-format printers, monochrome, printers that sort, duplex and produce photo-quality images.

In short, whether you print 50,000 pages a year, want to produce your own brochures in house or simply need to print a few invoices, there's a printer out there ready to tackle every small-business job.

Three printer manufacturers, Brother, HP and Xerox, recently announced new printers that run the full gamut, and we run down the various models and features to help you figure out what's right for your business.

Oh, Brother
The Bridgewater, N.J.-based company has added six new printers to its product line. The new additions include a color inkjet multi-function printer, a color laser multifunction printer and a series of four monochrome lasers.

The MFC-640cw: What Brother lacks in product-naming skills, it makes up for in features and price. The company says this multi-function color printer produces up to 20 pages per minute (ppm) in black and white and 15 ppm in color, scans, copies and faxes in color and sells for $199.99. Other features include the following:

  • Compact, low-profile design
  • Built-in Wireless 802.11b/g and Ethernet networking
  • 10-page automatic document feeder
  • Print resolutions up to 6000 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi)
  • Built-in telephone handset and up to 29 minute digital Message Center
  • Full-duplex speakerphone
  • Digital camera media card slots
  • Borderless photo printing

The MFC-9420CN: This multi-function color laser printer prints up to 31 ppm in black and white and up to eight ppm when printing or copying color. It also handles scanning and faxing in color and sells for $799.99. Other major features include the following:


Brother's MFC-9420CN
Click here for a larger image.

  • A flatbed design that also includes a 35-page auto-document feed
  • Color laser printing resolution up to 2400 x 600 dpi
  • Built-in Ethernet network interface
  • 250-sheet paper tray capacity (letter/legal)
  • High-speed 33.6Kbps fax modem
  • High-yield replacement toner cartridges (up to 10,000 pages for black and 6,600 pages for color cartridges)
  • Mac and PC compatible (Windows 98/NT4.0/2000/Me/2000/XP and Mac OS 9.1-9.2, OS X 10.2.4 or greater)

The HL-5200 Series: The series consists of four monochrome laser printers with each successive model building on the base version. All of the printers in the 5200 line print up to 30 ppm at up to 1200 x 1200 dpi. They're also both Mac and PC compatible (Windows 95/98/Me/NT4.0/2000/XPMac OS 9.1-9.2, OS X10.2.4 and up). Other models and features include the following:


Brother's HL-5240
Click here for a larger image.

The HL-5240:

  • First page out in less than 8.5 seconds
  • 300-sheet paper capacity, expandable up to 800-sheets
  • 16MB base memory (expandable to 528MB)
  • PCL6, BR-Script3, IBM and Epson FX emulations
  • USB 2.0 and parallel ports (cables not included)
  • Sells for $229

The HL-5250DN also includes the following features:

  • Built-in Ethernet network interface
  • Built-in duplex capability for two-sided printing
  • 32MB of standard memory (expandable to 544MB)
  • Sells for $249

The HL-5250DNT comes with all of the features found in the HL-5250DN, plus the following:

  • 550-sheet total input capacity via a second 250-sheet paper tray
  • Sells for $299

The HL-5280DW provides the same features as the HL-5250DN plus the following:

  • Built-in 802.11b/g wireless interface
  • Built-in Ethernet network interface
  • Three-color LCD display to view status and change printer settings
  • Sells for $349

The "P" is for Printer
No one can accuse HP of slacking off down in research and development. In fact, they maybe ought to switch to decaf over there. The company recently announced five new LaserJet series encompassing 16 printers. But wait, there's more. HP's also got two new Officejet Pro series that adds another five models into the mix.

We're not going to list the specs for 21 different printers here. Instead we'll point out the basic features, the number of printers within each series and the price range. For information on specific models and features, go to HP's Web site.

HP CLJ 3000 Series — two models available
Prints up to 30 ppm in black and white and up to 15 ppm in color. Memory ranges from 64MB to 512MB, recommended monthly print volume: 1,500 to 5,000 pages, USB 2.0 connectivity, an EIO slot for optional networking adapters; PC, Mac and Linux compatibility. Price range: $1,199 to $1,499.

HP CLJ 3600 Series — two models available
Prints in color and black and white at up to 17 ppm at 600 x 600 dpi. Memory ranges from 64MB to 128MB, recommended monthly print volume: 1,000 to 3,000 pages, manual/built-in two-sided printing depending on the model you choose, USB 2.0 connectivity, Ethernet embedded print server, optional 802.11b/g wireless LAN; PC and Mac compatible. Price range: $699 to $999.

HP CLJ 3800 Series — four models available
Prints in color and black and white at up to 22 ppm at 600 x 600 dpi. Memory ranges from 96MB to 288MB, recommended monthly print volume: 1,500 to 5,000 pages, manual/built-in two-sided printing depending on the model you choose, USB 2.0 connectivity, an EIO slot for optional networking adapters, Ethernet embedded print server, optional gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g wireless LAN; PC and Mac compatible. Price range: $799 to $1,549.

HP CLJ 4700 Series — four models available
Prints in color and black and white at up to 31 ppm at 600x600 dpi. Memory ranges from 160MB (128MB plus 32MB of flash memory) to 544MB (512MB plus 32MB of flash memory), recommended monthly print volume: 3,000 to 10,000 pages, manual/built-in two-sided printing depending on the model you choose, parallel port, USB 2.0 connectivity, two EIO slots for optional networking adapters, Ethernet embedded print server; PC and Mac compatible. Price range: $1,999 to $4,999.

HP CLJ 4730mfp Series — four models available
This multifunction device prints and copies in color and black and white at up to 31 ppm at 600 x 600 dpi. Scanning resolution: 600 x 600 dpi 30-bit (flatbed). Fax speed: up to 33.6kbps. Memory: 320MB (256MB and 64MB fixed memory). Recommended monthly print volume: 5,000 to 9,000 pages. Connectivity: parallel port, USB 2.0, one EIO slot for optional networking adapters, Ethernet embedded print server; PC, Mac and UNIX compatible. Price range: $4,999 to $5,899.

Officejet Pro K850 Series Color Printer — two models available
This color inkjet printer prints in black and white at up to 24 ppm in draft mode, seven ppm in what HP calls "laser quality" and four ppm in "best" mode. Color speed is up to 21 ppm in draft, six ppm in "laser quality" and 3.7 ppm in "best." Resolution: 1200x1200 dpi. Memory: 32MB, duty cycle rated at up to 6,250 pages per month, manual/built-in two-sided printing depending on the model you choose. Connectivity: USB 2.0, parallel port or Ethernet, depending on the model. PC, Mac and Linux compatible. Price range: $399 to $499.

Officejet Pro K550 Series Color Printer — three models available
Prints in black and white at up to 37 ppm in draft mode, 16 ppm in normal, 12 in "laser quality" and five ppm in "best" mode. Color speed is up to 33 ppm in draft, 16 in normal, 10 ppm in "laser quality" and five ppm in "best." Resolution: 1200 x 1200 dpi. Memory: 32MB, duty cycle rated at up to 7,500 pages per month, optional/built-in two-sided printing depending on the model you choose. Connectivity: USB 2.0, parallel port or Ethernet and built-in 802.11b/g depending on the model. PC, Mac and Linux compatible. Price range: $199 to $349.


Xerox's Phaser 7400DN
Click here for a larger image.

Copy That
Xerox has rolled out a new series in its Phaser line of high-volume color laser printers — the Phaser 7400 family — as well as new CopyCentre, WorkCentre and WorkCentre Pro series multifunction machines. Here's an overview of the series' basic features. For model-specific features, go to the Xerox office Web site.

The Phaser 7400 Series — five models available
All five printers in this series share certain basic features, such as printing up to 36 ppm in color and 40 ppm in black and white, a duty cycle of up to 150,000 pages per month, 1200 dpi resolution, an 800MHz processor and USB 2.0, 10.100BaseTX Ethernet connectivity. Depending on the model you choose, you get anywhere from 256MB to 1GB of memory, a 20GB hard drive, greater paper handling capacity and custom print features such as collation, finishing and custom page sizes. Price range: $2,999 to $7,999.


Xerox's WorkCentre Pro
Click here for a larger image.

CopyCentre 123/128/133
Straight-up copying from Xerox, the CopyCentre features three models that are named after their respective copying speeds — 23, 28 and 33 ppm. The copiers' duty cycles range from 75,000 to 125,000 pages per month and all feature two, 500-sheet paper trays. Price range: $3,399 to $5,149.

WorkCentre 123/128/133
The WorkCentre adds printing and networking capability on top of the same naming convention, copying features and specs found in the CopyCentre series. Additional features include print speeds of 23, 28 and 33 ppm, respectively, 1200 dpi resolution, optional fax, USB 2.0, 10/100 BaseT Ethernet, parallel port and optional 802.11b/g connectivity. Price range: $4,399 to $6,149.

WorkCentre Pro 123/128/133
Stepping up the line, the WorkCenter Pro offers all of the features found in the WorkCentre series and adds standard fax and scanning capabilities. Scanning features include scanning to multiple destinations such as e-mail, file servers and desktops. Price range: According to a company representative, Xerox does not publicly disclose pricing for its WorkCentre Pro models.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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