Chances are your business's workgroup copier doesn't look like the behemoths you see at the local copy shop; it's more like a multifunction on steroids. Most work-groups don't need the muscle of a large stand-alone copier, so a multifunction printer with a solid duty cycle can handle all your printing and copying needs in a single compact device. All the machines in our chart come equipped with at least Ethernet connections for sharing on a network.
Duty cycle can be a misunderstood figure. Think of it as an indication of the robustness of the machine. The $1,499 HP LaserJet M3027 MFP, for example, lists a duty cycle of up to 75,000 pages per month. It also offers a handy reference figure of a recommended monthly print volume of 2,000 to 6,000 pages. That's more realistic for most workgroups. If you truly need to crank out 75,000 pages per month—every month—then you'll probably need to look into a very high-end device to handle that kind of workload.
The $3,999 Xerox Phaser 8860MFP features a hearty 120,000 page duty cycle and comes loaded with color printing, speeds of up to 30 ppm, a 40GB hard drive and automatic duplexing. The solid ink technology means you don't have to mess with laser print cartridges. High print yields can help keep your costs down.
While you're busy giving your multifunction a workout, you'll appreciate fast printing and copying speeds. The $1,499 Oki Data C5550n MFP offers up a speedy 32 ppm
in monochrome and a bit slower 20 ppm in color when printing and copying, which is pretty peppy for the price. If you're in need of a true speed demon, look into the $2,999 Samsung SCX-6345N and its 45 ppm printing and copying capabilities. It also features a generous two-year warranty—double what most companies offer.
The $849 Brother MFC-9840CDW gives you lots of connectivity options: USB for single computer hookup, Ethernet for a hard-wired network and 802.11b/g for a wireless network. Automatic duplexing is a nice built-in feature in this color laser MFP.
If you need to archive or digitally store documents, the $4,400 Canon ImageRunner 2018i features Color Send technology that can scan documents into PDF, JPG or TIFF formats for easy storage or e-mailing. That gets you one step closer to the paperless office we've all been hearing about.
It doesn't cost a fortune to stock your workgroup with a powerful copy and print machine. By investing in a color laser MFP, you can save on the cost of color copies and the expense of running to a copy shop. If color isn't necessary, a monochrome MFP can be an affordable way to equip your workgroup. Also check out Dell, Epson, Konica Minolta and Lexmark for more multifunction printing and copying options.
—By Amanda C. Kooser
Copyright 2008 Entrepreneur.com, Inc. All rights reserved.