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by Technews
Issue Date: August 2002

Seven factors to consider when investing in a colour printer/copier

August 2002

Colour printing and copying is coming of age in the workplace and moving into the mainstream of everyday business communications. Proposals, presentations, even internal reports are being created and reproduced in colour to communicate messages more persuasively and with greater impact.
Minolta South Africa colour division product manager, Marianna Gdanis, says users can make costly mistakes if they simply buy on price. A number of factors should be taken into consideration when purchasing a colour printer/copier, such as:
1. Total cost of ownership
Running costs make up the majority of the expense of most printers.
Over a three year period, only 6% of the total cost of a typical desktop printer will come from hardware, while 94% will come from consumables such as ink, toner, paper, imaging cartridges and fusing units.
2. Impact on network
Organisations need to consider the impact of the colour device on the network. Large colour print jobs on normal laser or inkjet printers can slow down the network considerably.
3. Quality of image
Resolution - the number of dots per inch that the device can render - is an important factor to consider when investing in a new colour device. While it is generally accepted that the higher the resolution, the better the quality, resolution is not the only factor that influences the output quality. The introduction of sophisticated technology that improves the range of shades and gradations that can be achieved, also influences the quality of the image, and users should take the time to understand the technology employed by the device. In addition, the media or paper used will also influence the quality of the image, and most devices produce better quality images on glossy paper which is costly. It is therefore best to test the quality of the prints on standard bond paper, which will provide a cost-effective solution in the longer term.
4. Ease of use
For businesses to communicate effectively in colour, all users should be able to print and copy as simply and straightforwardly as possible. Display panels should be designed for simplicity and operating procedures should be easy to follow. Check whether the paper paths are short and easily accessible so that if a misfeed occurs, it is easy to clear.
5. The right supplier and after sales service
We all like to feel that we are getting a good deal but the value of the device lies only partly in the product. It is not the machine that the user is paying for, it is purely what the machine does, and over a three year period, it is possible that more than 70% of the money a company pays to its chosen supplier will be in technical service charges. Once a connected colour copier becomes part of your office, the real cost is when it is not working.
A good supplier in today's market has to support all the traditional copier-technologies, have the latest software, firmware-upgrades, advise on loading drivers, understand how the customers wish their product to be integrated into their network, understand colour-management, and have ongoing access to consumables and technical support to keep their customers happy.
6. Buy or rent?
It has long been believed that buying equipment outright is the best financial policy. These days, however, renting a digital colour copier/printer can not only provide a natural upgrade path, but can also offer significant savings over a three year period.
7. Controlling access
Having made an investment for the printing of business colour within your organisation, the protection of your investment from 'noncommercial colour volume' is a very important consideration for businesses today.
When purchasing a colour device, users should look for 'copy track', which restricts access to the device to specified users or departments only, and the number of pages printed can be recorded. Other features include print/hold/or direct queues which allow for different levels of access to your investment over the network.
For more information: Marianna Gdanis, Minolta South Africa, 011 249 4000.

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