Regarding printers, we recommend avoiding inkjet printers except in a few exceptions (such as wide-carriage printers and plotters). Inkjet printers suffer from costly supplies, ink “clots”, and (typically) short lifespans. The resulting downtime, frustration, and expense simply isn’t worth the lower acquisition cost of the printer.
For most businesses, the best printers are Laser for standard sheet-fed printing, and Thermal for labels. In both cases, consumers should try to stick with printer models that have wide acceptance by the market. This is because the more popular a printer, the more likely it is to spawn a market for low-cost replacement parts and consumables.
One important feature on business-grade printers is a wired network connection. This helps simplify connection of the printer to the network, and decreases likelihood of connection interruptions that USB and wirelessly-connected printers are more likely to face.
Don’t buy a color laser printer if you only need Black and White. Color printers are often tempting options because they appear to do more and can cost less to purchase. Color printers will almost certainly result in a dramatic increase in toner expense, and the increased complexity of color printers can lead to more maintenance costs and/or a shorter lifespan.
If you are shopping for a Multi-Function Printer (MFP) that does scanning, copying, etc., it can be especially important to find a business-grade model. That is because poor software and feature design of many lower-end units have can cause difficulty for users, particularly with scanning documents.
One sign of a business-grade laser printer is rapid print speed: able to churn-out 40 to upwards of 50 pages per minute (PPM).
Due to dependability, speed, ease of use, and overall value, our current favorite laser printers are made by Lexmark.
Regarding Managed Print Services (where you lease a printers or copier and contract for a toner and maintenance for a certain number of pages per month), we understand that this model has the potential to reduce costs. We remain unconvinced, however, that this business model is a “home run” for the customer. There are a lot of potential pitfalls that the consumer needs to be aware of. For example, if you lease a copier and it turns-out to be a lemon or the unit turns-out to be a poor fit for your needs, what options do you have to remedy the situation? In our experience, the remedies are one-sided, where the customer pays all of the (hefty!) toll. The Managed Print Service model also tends to lock the customer in an endless cycle of lease contracts — sometimes upgrading for the sake of upgrading. We’ve found that users are not always happy to get a shiny new printer if they really knew and liked the old one.