Two Required Features for Every Printer or All-in-One

Whether it be for home or the office printing applications, choosing from the wide variety of printer vendors and technology is never an easy task..  However, we at Wirth Consulting believe that there are two features that every printer should have.  If the cost of such printers put them out of your price range, we recommend that you save up a few bucks and buy a printer that is equipped with: 1) wired or wireless networking; and 2) automatic duplex printing.

1.  Network Interface
The single most effective way to get the most out of your printer is to share it with other users over the network  A printer with a Cat 5 Ethernet port allows you to easily connect a printer to your broadband network and share and manage its use.  You simply plug a common Cat 5 network cable into Ethernet port on the back of the printer and the other end of the cable into an available network port.  Not sure if you have an available port?  Chances are that if you currently have more than one PC on your network, you have a router with an available network port.

Wireless Networking
If you have no available Cat 5 ports on your network but you have wireless networking, several printers offer wireless networking options.  However, due to wireless bandwidth limitations, bandwidth intensive operations operations such as color scanning and remote operation of any built-in media card readers can be sluggish.  Nevertheless, wired network printing is still your best bet.

Network Installation
We have installed hundreds of network devices over the years and it’s gotten to the point where the software provided by the vendor works like a charm on a vast majority of network installations. In other words, as long as you can find an open Cat 5 port on your network, we don’t think installation will be a problem.  Wireless printer networking is easily accomplished as well.

OK, Tell Me About the Exciting Things That I Do with My New Network Printer

  1. Share the printer over the network.  This will involve installing the print drivers on each PC that will use the network printer.  Not to worry though as we have found that the network printer installation software that is included with most printers makes this a relatively painless chore.
  2. Manage the printer from the comfort of your desktop.  Most printers allow you to monitor and configure them via a built-in Web page that you can access by entering the printers IP address into the address bar of any Web browser.  From the printer home page, you can monitor and limit printer usage and set defaults that can result in a considerable savings in the cost of printing.
Networking Benefits Networking Weaknesses

Maximize Usage and ROI – Printer sharing allows you to fully utilize the potential of your printer

The Incremental Cost of the Network Upgrade – There is a one-time cost premium for a network printer when compared to a printer intended for dedicated use

Maximize Reliability – Many printers (particularly ink-jet printers) need to be used daily and printer sharing ensures maximum usage

Potential for abuse – Since the printer will be accessible to more users, there is more potential for unauthorized use

Manage Usage – Analyze the use of expensive color printing

Limit Usage – Set printing defaults and establish user accounts to manage print usage

Monitor printer status – Pre-order supplies or maintenance kits to minimize downtime

 imageHP Color LaserJet 3700dtn “Supplies Status” page as viewed from a Web browser

imageHP Color LaserJet 3700dtn “Usage Page” as viewed from a Web browser

2.  Automatic Duplex Printing
In this day and age, no home or small business worth its salt should be printing on only one side of the paper.  Sure, there are rare times when you must print in simplex mode, but it is incredibly wasteful when used for a vast majority of office printing applications.  Consequently, you should not even consider a printer that does not feature automatic duplex printing–that is the ability to automatically print on both sides of the paper.  Tip:  If you already have a duplex printer, make sure that you turn the duplex default on at the printer control panel or from the printer home page.

An optional duplex unit snaps into the back of our trusty HP PhotoSmart Color 2510 MFP.

Sure, duplex printers cost more and you may not be willing to pay more.  However, it is really easy to do the math and realize that you’re being penny foolish instead of pound wise:

Let’s say that a ream of 8-1/2″ x 11″ dual purpose bond cost ~$7.00.  A ream of paper will produce either 500 simplex images or 1,000 duplex images.  This means that if you duplex every print, you can save 50% on the cost of the media.  In the example above, you can save as much as $3.50 on every 500-sheet ream of paper that you buy.

Let’s take it one step further.  The HP LaserJet CP2025n B&W network printer costs $449.99.  The HP LaserJet CP20235dn B&W network printer with duplex costs $499.99.  So based on the cost savings example above, the additional $50 cost of the duplex can recouped by the time you buy your 15th ream of paper!  Needless to say, this minor expense for an automatic duplex upgrade is well worth the “green” image that your company projects, minimizes your printing costs and maximizes the ROI on your printer investment.

Stayed tuned for our next post where we will discuss Five Things that You Can Do to Optimize the Use of Your Network Printer.

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!
Terry Wirth