Whether you are looking for a low-cost but reliable photocopier for a home office, a networked copier for an office workgroup, or a heavy-duty full colour photocopier for a print-hungry corporate group environment, black-only photocopiers black and colour photocopiers, the choices these days are huge.
If it is a few years since you last took the plunge to replace an ageing machine, you might be in for a big surprise at the substantial improvements in design and features now available to you.
The most obvious and important advances have been due to the introduction of digital technology. Digital copiers work by scanning the original document to be copied and creating a digital image. This digital image is then used to create all the resulting copies.
Essentially, this “scan once, print many" technology means that digital copiers do a great job of photocopying graphics and photos as well as creating far less wear and tear on parts and equipment. Old hands will know that that the technology has been around for several years, but if you are a newcomer, you should not feel that this is a an unproven new-fangled technology - far from it!
Which photocopier is right for you?
These days, because digital technology means even an entry-level copier is capable of operating as a printer when hooked up to a PC or network, it pays to consider ease of use and convenience for your particular office environment.
One huge advantage of a digital copier is that it can be linked to a standalone PC, or more usually, added to your office computer network. Your photocopier then becomes a high-speed printer, which can be upgraded to produce sorted and/or stapled sets of prints without having to get up from your desk. Not only that, but with the right additional components, your photocopiers can also act as a fax and high-speed scanner, too.
Other benefits of combining print and copy functions
It is well proven that printers are comparatively more expensive and variable in their cost to run for the same given volume of print than the photocopier. Print volumes have been increasing exponentially for a few years now, but copier volumes have remained flat if not slightly diminishing.
And often, of course, the acquisition of several printers from several companies over time can mean piecemeal maintenance and service support. The digital photocopier on the other hand can be at least four to ten times cheaper to run with a fixed, fully inclusive cost per page.
Where to start your research?
If you decide that you want these advanced capabilities, it pays to shop around, of course. And these days, most office equipment suppliers use ever more sophisticated search mechanisms to help in your choice. UK-based Officemagic, for example, has its Office Wizard which enables users to specify exactly the type of machine they want in a simple 3-step process, which yields a selection of systems from a large database of possibilities. Many price comparison websites also exist, including Kelkoo and Pricegrabber, where comparisons between manufacturers are made simple.
Copiers are priced, generally speaking on the copy speed and range of features. Business grade copiers typically cost from around £350 for a basic, low volume photocopier model, and several 000's for a high-end solution, which can include double-sided printing, sorting, collating and bookbinding facilities. And in terms of total ownership costs, the overall acquisition and running costs of a higher-specification machine means that the cost per-copy cost is reduced, and so the economies of scale attached to higher volume copiers can pay off handsomely in the long run.
Jimi St. Pierre writes for several Office Equipment suppliers and Travel Companies in the UK, including Officemagic , BCP Ltd and Country Connect , the latter being a publisher of a daily news feed to the UK travel industry via the Virgin Media Traveleye extranet.