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What every IT Manager, Office Manager and Business Owner needs to know!

Many small and medium size businesses today are using the wrong printing devices. Make an informed choice when you purchase your next office printer or multi-function printer.

Printing costs remain one of the largest uncontrolled expenditures in many businesses today. The key to reducing and managing the cost of printing lies in choosing the right printing devices for your office. When choosing a printer many businesses will shop the big box stores and will gravitate to the one with the “low cost” sticker price for the perceived savings. Is this the best choice for your business?  

To answer this question we will compare the cost-of-ownership of two typical HP LaserJet printers: an entry-level monochrome (black and white) laser printer and a business-class monochrome laser printer. Regardless of which brand of printer you may be considering or whether it is black and white or colour, a multi-functional or stand-alone device this method of comparison will apply. When we talk about printing we are also referring to office copying and faxing as well.

The HP LaserJet Pro P1606 entry level monochrome laser printer sold for approximately $200. The toner cartridge for this printer lists for approximately $97 and is rated to yield 2100 pages representing a cost per print of approximately 4.6 cents. For comparison purposes we will assume our monthly print volume is 2000 pages per month which is an average volume of print for a small to mid-sized business. This amounts to a monthly printing cost of $92 (2000 prints x 4.6 cents per print).

The HP LaserJet M603 business class laser printer sold for approximately $1500. The toner cartridge for this printer lists for approximately $349 and is rated to yield 24,000 pages representing a cost per print of approximately 1.45 cents. Again, for comparison purposes we will assume our monthly print volume is 2000 pages per month. This amounts to a monthly printing cost of $29 (2000 prints x 1.45 cents per print).

With a difference in purchase price between the two printers of $1300 and a difference in monthly operating costs of $63 the break even point between the “higher cost” business class printer and the “low cost” entry level printer is approximately 20 months.

Diff. in purchase price / Diff. in monthly operating cost = break even point in months

($1500 - $200) / ($92 - $29) = 20.63

So at the end of 20 months what do we have left? If you chose the “low cost” entry-level HP P1600 you have a tired printer that will likely need to be serviced or replaced and you have used approximately nineteen toner cartridges. If you chose the business class HP M603 you still have a durable, high quality office printer, that will likely last ten years, will not need any service until it reaches 150,000 pages and you have used less than two toner cartridges. In fact during the average serviceable life of a business class product, businesses using entry-level laser printers will have thrown away several “low cost” entry-level laser printers. The environmental benefits alone make a solid case for choosing business-class printers over entry-level products.

Let’s see what this looks like over a five-year period. First we will look at the cost of operating the HP P1600 “low cost” entry-level laser printer. With a print volume of 2000 pages per month, over a five-year period, the total pages printed would amount to 120,000. 25 years of service experience tells us the HP P1600 simply will not print 120,000 pages problem free. When problems arise most businesses will not choose to repair a $200 printer therefore it will be thrown away and replaced. As entry-level printers have a typical life of 50,000 pages we will assume a total of three printers are needed so after including the additional printers at $200 each we have a total equipment cost of $600 over a five-year period. The cost of printing 120,000 pages at 4.6 cents per print would be $5520 plus the cost of the three P1600’s for a five-year cost-of-ownership of $6120.

Now let’s take a look at the HP M603 over the same five-year period. The HP M603 will still be an excellent working machine that will likely not have had any need for service or replacement so there will be no additional equipment costs. The cost of printing 120,000 pages at a cost of 1.45 cents per print would be $1740 plus the original cost of only one M603 at $1500 for a five-year cost-of-ownership of $3240.

That’s a savings of $2880. Even if you had to service the HP M603 once or twice along the way we guarantee you won’t spend anywhere near $2880. Let’s say for the sake of argument a P1600 would last five years choosing a business class product still represents a savings of $2480. Without even taking into consideration the benefits gained in productivity, efficiency and functionality of a business class printer over an entry-level printer the best choice for your business becomes obvious.

This may not be the most exhaustive comparison and some minor details such as power consumption have been ommited in our formula, however, it is what 25 years experience in the office printing industry has shown to be true and is meant to help IT Managers, Office Managers and Business Owners understand why the printer with the “low cost” sticker price may not turn out to be “low cost” in the end. “Low cost” printers do have their place however choosing a “low cost” entry-level laser printer and using it like a business class machine, or worse spreading your office printing volume out over several entry-level printers (humourously referred to in the industry as "printer creep"), throwing them away when they break and thinking you are coming out ahead is obviously not the best choice for your business or our environment.

The next time you need to purchase a printer, fax or copier for your office consider choosing a business class product and choose to purchase it from The Fax & Printer Guy. We have over 25 years experience in the office printing industry and provide free consultations to help you choose the right printing devices for your office. Right for your budget and right for the environment.

Call for your free consultation today @ 902-832-6622.