When it comes to purchasing a new printer, scanner, or AIO (all-in-one) for your small or home office, you have plenty of inexpensive options. To help narrow your search for a new machine, we’ll talk about which features and performance aspects separate the entry- and mid-range models from the high end products.
Affordable & Functional
Even though these units are cost-effective, you don’t have to sacrifice printing options. Compact in size and weight, many of the machines in this category can handle a variety of document sizes, from 4 x 6 to 8 x 10, letter, and legal, and many can print on envelopes, transparencies, photos, and labels. The duty cycle—defined as the maximum number of pages that a printer can output each month without damaging the printer—is an important specification to weigh when shopping for a printer that will see heavy daily use. Keep in mind that the maximum monthly duty cycle is the very high end of what you could print each month.
Mid-Range Means More Options
In this category, you’ll sometimes see automatic duplex capabilities (printing on both sides of the paper), LCD touch screens that allow for easier operation, memory card slots to help you import and export your print jobs, and reduction and enlargement options. Look for larger paper trays, which will need to be refilled less often than the trays in basic models.
The monthly duty cycle for mid-range models is also greater—anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 copies a month. Often, you’ll find the print speed, which is often referred to as PPM (pages per minute), can be faster for mid-range machines than basic models.
High-End Equals Heavy Duty
The most expensive printers in a series are often the toughest. You’ll see many of the same features as the mid-range options, but additional pluses include larger paper tray capacities (some with the option of two paper trays), larger internal memories, advanced imaging technologies, and duty cycles ranging to 40,000 sheets and above.
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