Best Gets For Less

Printers

Although ink-jet printers are cheap and even print in color, many small businesses still rely on laser printers for day-to-day print workloads. To make sure a laser printer can handle your printing needs, start by choosing one with at least an eight-page-per-minute (ppm) print engine. The printer should also be able to support 600 dpi print resolution, which means it should be compatible with PCL5e-, PCL6- or PostScript. PCL5e or PCL6 are less expensive options that can be used in PC-only offices, while PostScript is more versatile, able to work with Macs, PCs and most UNIX workstations.

Also make sure not to overlook the low-tech capabilities that can make a printer more convenient. First, paper trays should hold at least 250 sheets. In addition, look for a printer equipped with two paper trays, or at least one storage tray and a bypass tray, to allow you to print on envelopes or letterhead without reloading the storage tray.

Finally, consider how you expect to connect the printer to your computers. If your system operates through a local area network, make sure the proper connector, which will typically be an Ethernet jack, is built in to the printer. If a network interface isn't built in, find out how much buying one will add to the cost of the model.

One solid buy on the market is GCC Technologies' Elite 12/600. This $900 model is PostScript-compatible for use with PCs and Macs, and comes with a built-in network interface. This model prints at 12 ppm and is equipped with 8MB RAM to process even complex pages quickly. The Elite 12/600 comes with an 80-sheet multipurpose tray to back up its 250-page paper tray; GCC also offers an optional 500-sheet tray ($129 street).

Another choice is the $600 Okidata Okipage 12i. This model prints 12 ppm and offers 4MB memory, which is up-gradable to 36MB. You can supplement its 250-sheet paper tray with one that holds 500 sheets ($289 street) or with a multipurpose tray ($149 street). The Okipage 12i is PostScript-compatible and offers up to 1,200 x 600 dpi resolution.

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Best Gets For Less.

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