From the January 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs with growing ventures lead colorful lives. So why not put it on paper? Whether you're one person or a heavily populated networked office, there's a color printer that will come in on budget and fit your needs. We've divided up color printing options into five categories: inkjets, photo printers, lasers, solid ink and portable. We've also scoped out at least one example of each, but don't hesitate to investigate each company's full product lines. With the wide range available, you're bound to find one or two that fit your business perfectly.

Budget-friendly color inkjets are tempting for their low initial prices and ease-of-use. The Epson Stylus C82 clocks in at just $149 (all prices street). The drawback is that consumables, particularly ink cartridges, will add up over time. Still, for occasional color printing and basic black-and-white needs, an inexpensive inkjet may suit your office just fine. If you're looking to step up and bring your printer online with your network, Epson offers the C82 in a Wi-Fi version (C82WN, $379) or in an Ethernet version (C82N, $349). A $129 parallel port Bluetooth adapter is also available for you early adopters and Bluetooth gadget owners.

Specialized inkjets vault past lasers in the digital photography department. It's still not cheap to keep feeding them ink, but the quality that the new crop of printers turns out is undeniable. The $149 Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 5550 boasts an automatic paper sensor that adjusts the print mode to fit the media and a borderless printing option for edge-to-edge 4-by-6 photos. Although it easily handles most digital photo printing demands, regular text and color printing are also in reach. For more demanding high-volume color printing, consider a color laser that will cost less in the long run.

Laser printers are still the cost-effective workhorses of offices everywhere. Color may seem like a luxury when black-and-white lasers have reached such low prices lately, but they're a smart buy when you can see a good return on investment. If you need to churn out sharp brochures, presentations or fliers on a regular basis, this is an option to consider. The $2,400 Brother HL-4000CN is a midlevel color laser with built-in networking and auto duplexing that makes it ideal for demanding work group situations.

Xerox takes an unusual approach to putting color on paper with its solid ink technology. Once you get over the wow factor of holding little wax-like chunks of ink in your hand, you'll find a very capable printer at your service. Best of all is the Phaser 8200's appealing $1,499 price tag. The $1,899 Phaser 8200/N model moves you up to 10/100 Ethernet capabilities. This is a good idea for servicing a small office or work group. And you won't have to shake out a toner cartridge ever again.

Sure, $349 sounds like a lot for an inkjet-style printer, but you're paying primarily for the Canon BJC-55's very small size. At 2.1 pounds, it's heavier than a feather but lighter than just about any other option out there. If on-the-spot printing wherever you go is what you need, this is the way to handle it. Laptop-lugging road warriors will be able to fit this slim printer into a side pocket and head out. The trade-off comes in slow print speeds, so the BJC-55 is strictly for traveling entrepreneurs who must have a way to print in remote places. Whatever technology or hardware you decide to go with, a color printer will add some vibrant pizazz to your projects.

Shopping List
How does this new crop of wireless PDAs fit within the constraints of your business's budget?

COMPANY
/MODEL
CONTACTTYPEPPMFEATURESTREET
PRICE
Brothers
HL-4000CN
800)521-2846
www.brother.com
Work Group Laser16350MHz processor,
64MB memory,
one-year
on-site warranty
$2,400
Canon
BJC-55
(800)385-2155
www.canon.co
Portable
Bubble Jet
5.5 black,
2 color
Weighs 2.1 pounds,
USB and irda,
One-year warranty
$349
Epson
Stylus c82
(800)go-epson
www.epson.com
InkJet22 black,
11 color
150-sheet
paper tray,
USB and parallel
connections
$149
Hewlett-Packard
DeskJet 5550
(800)752-0900
www.hp.com
InkJet
Photo Printer
17 black,
12 color
USB and parallel ports,
automatic paper sensor,
one-year warranty
$149
Xerox
Phaser 8200
(877)362-6567
www.xerox.com
Solid InkUp to 16, 10 in standard mode300MHz processor,
10gb hard disk,
one-year
on-site warranty
$1,499

Heather Clancy is the editor of CRN (www.crn.com), a newsweekly circulated to 117,000 technology solution providers, most of which are growing businesses.