To equip an office that has a few employees, I wanted equipment that could be shared easily. My pièce de rèsistance was a network-ready departmental laser printer from Hewlett-Packard, the LaserJet 2100TN. This Mac- and PC-compatible printer outputs at a fast 10 ppm, offers 1,200 x 1,200 dpi resolution and comes pre-installed with a network card to get multiple users up and running quickly. Office Depot carries it for just under $1,000, making it an extremely affordable option.
"Normally, you must spend at least $1,500 for a network printer," confirms Alvarado. "This one is a good price at $999, comes with the network card already installed, has a double [paper] tray and comes with an infrared port, so if you have a laptop or handheld [PC], you can just point it at the printer and print. It's definitely a good buy."
To handle multiuser fax and copying demands, I chose the Brother MFC-4350 Laser All-In-One Machine. It faxes at 6 ppm, makes multiple copies (up to 99 pages) and has reduction and enlargement features. The Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 882C color inkjet printer ($299.99) is reasonably priced for the occasional color user in the office. And the Siemens Phone System Gigaset 2420 with three extra handsets ($129.99 each) takes care of four employees' phone needs.
The new External Iomega Zip 250MB Parallel Drive can easily handle the crucial job of backing up an entire office's data. It's the fastest and largest-capacity drive of its kind, handling big jobs with relative ease. The parallel-port model makes backing up multiple PCs easy; it's also hassle-free for PC users on the move. Finally, American Power Conversion's Back-UPS 650 protects multiple pieces of office equipment from power surges and outages. It also contains a modem surge protector and software to automatically save data and power down your equipment.