We had a horrible experience last year with printers and copiers. The machines we had all seemed to point at just one thing: trouble. At one point, I was running between printer, copier, my lesson plan, and several computer terminals as I tried to get printouts for my colleagues and my own classes done. It was quite a frustrating experience.
At that point, we made several decisions: one to replace the photocopier machine, and to buy a laser jet. While we didn’t get a good replacement for the copier until just a few months ago, we did find a good replacement for our printers. We opted for a laserjet printer that could handle about the level of our workload, approximately 2,500 pages per month with ease. It also eased having to run between the photocopier and the printer, which is what we had been doing when we were using inkjet printers (which btw were horribly expensive, too!).
If you take a look at Dell’s website, you’ll see an equivalent printer, the Dell Laser Printer 1110, which is about the same price and standard, though this is not the one we bought! We didn’t have the choice!
For our current needs, though, given that we have a full copier available that is networked, I think we’d opt for a much different model. I have my eye on something like the top of the range model:
This is the Dell Multifunction Colour Laser Printer 3115cn. This printer scanner copier really would serve a lot of our small business needs. It has a bigger cartridge that can print nearly 5,000 copies, monochrome for worksheets and letters, color for graphics, cards and flyers, scanning (of course) for the students ‘works of art’, and a fax machine!
As a result of our experience, we learned a number of valuable lessons. When you are evalutating printing equipment, there are a number of things you need to be aware of:
reliability above all else – the machines have to work without trouble;
support is at hand – when they fail, and they will, you need to find people to get them operating quickly;
network stability and interoperability – we found this most perplexing as several of the machines we tried wouldn’t ‘plug’n’play’ with our mixed network ( we used English/Chinese systems running win98/XP/XPsp1/2 );
predictability of cost – while we weren’t so concerned about the cost, we found it difficult to figure out how much each page cost. This made it hard for our business to figure out what the value was – were we getting a good deal? could we buy a more economical printer?
quality of output – we had LOTS of problems with the old copier producing really poor quality copy. Printouts would leave the machine, and toner would literally crumble in your hands. Other times, the words or pictures would be really poorly copied. Paper would be torn by the machine, crumpled occasionally.
cost vs. benefit – we also found that with all the problems, we spent more time troubleshooting the printing problems than we had the patience to deal with, we were spending time, and therefore losing opportunities to work more efficiently at looking after our students, recruiting, and so on. Eventually, we realized that buying a cheap printer really did NOT make financial or economic sense. It was actually costing us money.
Once you have all of these in hand, you should find it much easier to purchase a good printer!
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