Your Reproductive System

Fit To Print

There are two basic types of workgroup copiers: analog and digital. Analog is the kind we're all familiar with. You place your book or paper on the platen glass, set the lid on top of it, push the button and wait as the light goes buzzing along underneath it, one pass for each copy you make. The Xerox 5818 Copier, at $3,060 (all prices street), is a good example of a relatively low-cost analog copier. Its reduce and enlarge ratios of 64 to 156 percent are typical of analog. (By comparison, some digital copiers can enlarge up to 800 percent.) The 5818's 20,000-page monthly volume is enough to handle most small work-group demands. The input tray holds 720 sheets with a 99-sheet maximum output. Compare this with the high-priced, high-volume Kyocera Mita DC-6500 Work-group Copier.

We've included the DC--6500 in our "Shopping List" for comparison's sake. This machine is $19,995 worth of free-standing, old-fashioned analog printing. It's way out of the budget reaches of some companies, but it's typical of what's left lingering in the analog product lines: large workhorse machines for companies that really have some serious copying to do. The DC-6500, for example, can crank out a whopping 65 copies per minute (CPM) and can be retro-fitted to hold a 6,300-sheet paper supply.

Not surprisingly, digital copiers have begun to outnumber analogs in the market-place. Analog prices and copy quality may be comparable to digital machines, but digital offers other advantages: For instance, you don't have to stand there and wait for the machine to scan the paper every time it makes a copy. It scans the paper once, remembers it and continues copying. You can snag the original and return to work while the copier stays busy.

And unlike analog machines, for which copying is the one and only duty, most digital copiers are designed as "document management systems." That's the long term for "multifunction." A network copier might also be your network printer, scanner or fax machine. Some systems come this way; others offer modules so you can add printer capabilities to your copier later if the need arises.

The Konica 7415 Workgroup Document System is a good example of the latter. The basic machine is just a copier, but you can add on a network card or a fax module. This sort of setup is ideal for making one machine operate as a networked multifunction device. It can also evolve as your business grows and your hardware needs increase.

If you already know you want it all, another option is to just buy all the features ready to rumble in one machine. The $2,799 Sharp DM2000 Network Laser Document System comes pre-equipped as a copier and network printer. A fax feature is optional. It isn't as cheap as running out and buying another inkjet, but you'll get all the advantages of a laser printer along with the convenience of a copier. And 20 pages per minute (ppm) output isn't too shabby, either.

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This article was originally published in the March 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Your Reproductive System.

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