Some background information
In the past colour copying and
printing was the realm of reprographics departments, large organisations
and copy shops. This was primarily because the machinery was very
expensive to buy and run, and consequently any work produced on
it was expensive too. However in the past few years colour has
become much more affordable to everyone. This has come about through
advances in production techniques and technology that have allowed
smaller compact units to be produced at a fraction of the price,
thus creating new markets for those with smaller budgets. Considerations
with the new breed of colour laser machines is that not all colour
machines are equal especially with the A3 A4 copiers. With the
new breed of colour machines comes new categories. The main categories
are black & white, full colour,
pantone colour, business colour
and smart colour. To help define these categories
see the points below.
- Black & white or
monochrome: As it suggests the output is black and
white only. These copiers/ printers are usually cheap and reliable;
they are also capable of higher output volumes and speed compared
colour: This usually means the copier or printer
is capable of producing full colour photographic quality output.
- Pantone colour:
Is a term used to say that the output colours on the document
will accurately match those on a specially calibrated computer
screen. Some of the myths about pantone
Business colour: Machines in this category
are capable of full colour output, but won't produce photographic
quality prints. These machines are aimed at businesses so they
can produce colour output for reports and presentations. Their
main advantages are low initial purchase price and low running
costs compared to a full colour system. However the output is
usually surprisingly good with pictures being of a good quality.
colour or colour enabled: This is one of the new
breeds of photocopiers that is essentially a black and white
machine that is also capable of business colour or full colour
depending on the particular make/model. These machines are usually
designed to cope with a workload of 80% black and white and
to consider about colour copiers and printers:
1. Although some machines are relatively cheap to buy they are still
relatively expensive to run, colour is usually 5 times more expensive
than black and white output.
2. They are not usually designed to produce the same amount work
as their black and white counterparts.
3. If the machine breaks down they can be expensive to repair.
4. The low budget machines can be cheap to buy because they are
deigned to be cheap to produce, this basically means more of the
internal components wear out more quickly and need to be replaced.
Don't buy one if you intend to put thousands of pages at a time
through it, as running costs will soon overtake what you save on
the initial purchase price.
5. Toner and consumables tend to be expensive because there are
more of them required to print a page. In fact the colour process
requires 4 toners compared to 1 for black and white.
6. Business and smart
colour mid range to high-end printers and copiers can provide the
best of both black and white and colour. With reasonable pricing
and low running costs they can provide great value for money if
you need both colour and black and white in reasonable quantities.
7. It is always worth
checking which type of colour (business or full) that any particular
model will produce and the associated running costs. As makes and
models vary in their output it is advisable to get some colour output
from any photocopiers that you are considering. You may find that
a cheaper business colour copier/printer produces more than adequate
you need to ask:
1. How much colour
output is really required?
2. How much can be in black and white?
3. What is the cost of a full set of replacement toners?
4. How many colour pages will the toners produce?
5. What other consumables like drums and transfer belts are required,
and how many pages will the produce before they need replacing?
6. Can you have a sample of the colour output (get a print of a
document you already use)
it all means
Using colour is
now much more affordable, but black and white laser copying and
printing is still by far the cheapest way to go. With significantly
lower running costs a mono page is still the best value for money,
so copy and print in mono as much as possible. As most modern colour
laser copiers and printers will allow you to produce documents in
black and white, it's worth finding this option and using it when
possible to help reduce running costs. NOTE: check your machines
driver or control panel settings to make sure that it is set to
black and white output.
Black and white (or
mono) laser machines have much lower running costs, better reliability
and are cheaper to repair, worth remembering when looking at the
long term costs.
The best way to use
colour, especially with low-end budget laser machines is to only
use it when required, don't just use it to pretty up your day to
day output because the cost can be quite significant in the long-term.
In fact the most costly part of any copier or printer (colour or
black and white) is its running cost, the part most people don't
notice. It can cost you many times the initial purchase price of
the machine in running costs over its working life, and that can