Thinking about upgrading your copier? If you're looking for maximum bang for your buck, a multifunction copier for your workgroup can accommodate. These machines, which offer more than you'd get from a traditional copier, tend to clock in at very affordable prices and can usually be networked to handle your employees' printing needs as well. The $2,199 (all prices street) Xerox WorkCentre M20i comes with fax, scan and e-mail features and can handle a robust duty cycle of up to 20,000 pages per month. Built-in Ethernet lets you put it on the network with ease, and its scan once, print many capability is one to look for when shopping.
Samsung's $500 SCX-4720F is a hearty, space-conscious multifunction with a handy Toner Save button that can stretch your toner by up to 40 percent. The base model has no Ethernet, so you would need to add it on at about $200 if you require networkability. At $150, an additional 250-sheet paper cassette is another upgrade to consider.
Sharp's $2,895 AR-M207 is a well-stocked machine with automatic duplexing and full ledger-size PC scanning. Investing in an optical network kit can let everyone in the workgroup take advantage of the more advanced features like network printing and scanning. Like the Samsung, it comes with a handy toner-save mode.
Spending $2,599 will land you the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 4345mfp, which boasts a standard 600-sheet capacity and a built-in Ethernet print server. It's the low end of HP's 4345 line, but it still packs in a blazing 45 copies per minute maximum and a substantial 200,000-page monthly duty cycle. Moving up to the $3,449 HP LaserJet 4345x gets you automatic duplexing capabilities and 1,100-sheet standard capacity as well. The $1,999 Lexmark x632s also features a 200,000-page monthly duty cycle. If you're planning on copying and printing that much, you can boost the 600-page standard input up to the 2,600-page maximum with add-on paper drawers.
Be prepared--though they're not the analog behemoths of old, many multifunction copiers at the workgroup level require some space. The $3,199 Konica Minolta Bizhub 7218 is 86 pounds of copying, faxing, scanning and printing. It comes with a standard 275-sheet paper tray, but can be upgraded to hold nearly 1,500 sheets with additional trays. All that capacity is part of where the size comes in. But if you go the upgrade route, you won't have to constantly refill your paper tray. Keep in mind that some machines, like the 7218, are only available through a network of value-added resellers, so check with your local VAR.
Not all copiers come in at thousands of dollars. For very small workgroups or offices, there are lots of inexpensive candidates. The $350 Brother MFC-7820N brings printing, built-in Ethernet, a battery backup system and a 33.6Kbps fax modem along for the ride with its copying capabilities. Its standard 250-sheet capacity is also its maximum.
Picking your copier is just a matter of anticipating your workgroup needs. How many pages will you need to run every month? Is automatic duplexing a must? Do you need a large paper capacity? What will your budget allow? Answer these questions, and you'll be well on your way to finding the right copier.