In Living Color

It's Your Choice

To help you determine your needs when shopping for a color copier, here's a glossary of features:

Bypass. This feature is useful for making a single-sheet copy that is a different paper size or type from those already loaded into the paper tray. The downside of bypassing, however, is that on some copiers, you must feed these documents in one page at a time.

Digital. This is an imaging process that takes a scan of the image being copied and translates it into data that can be edited prior to printing.

Manual duplex or auto duplex. Duplex means printing on both sides of a single sheet of paper, which saves both time and money.

Network connectivity. Most color laser copiers can hook up to one or more computers to input and share data, edit images, and be used as a printer as well as a copier.

Reduction/enlargement. Most color copiers resize images from 25 percent to 400 percent, usually in 1 percent increments, and from one paper size to another.

Resolution and dpi. Copiers "look" at an image and turn it into millions of minute dots. Dots per inch (dpi) is a measurement of the clarity, crispness and quality of the picture being reproduced. The greater the number of dots concentrated in a square inch of space, the clearer the image. Today's color laser copiers have an average resolution of 400 dpi, which is near-photographic.

Running costs. The cost of copying a page in full color can vary, depending on the number of colors involved and the density and quality required. The average cost is around 20 cents per copy for digital color laser copiers. Hewlett Packard's base Series 100 inkjet averages 3 cents a copy, one of the lowest per-copy prices of the copiers listed in our chart.

Speed. Most digital color laser copiers produce three to six color pages per minute, and black-and-white pages two or three times faster than that. Inkjets are a little slower but can produce up to three color pages per minute, depending on the color density and quality required, and up to 10 black-and-white pages per minute.

Touchscreen control panel. On Mita's Ci7500, for example, this panel allows you to fine-tune color images and quality by adjusting brightness, contrast, density, sharpness and saturation.

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: In Living Color.

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