Friday, September 26, 2008

Toshiba adds new high-end color copiers

Toshiba, which once trailed the pack in terms of innovative high-end color, is now capable of compete ting with the best. The new e-STUDIO5520c, 6520c and 6520c expand on the power of the -STUDIO5500c, Toshiba’s first made-in-house stab at high-speed color and light production. Unlike the 5500c, however, these models come with printing and scanning standard, not an option.

The e-STUDIO5520c, which runs at 55ppm in both color and black-and-white, has a list price of $24,999. The 6520c (65ppm in color and black) comes in at $30,999. The 6230c is priced at $32,999. These prices are all significantly lower than that of the 5500c.

These machines have a maximum of 3,400 sheets of input, and can handle paper up to 140lb. index in weight. There’s a choice between a simple finisher and a booklet maker. Other features are state of the art. Dual-line faxing is an option. Toshiba has taken a great step with these new speedy and flexible models.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ricoh introduced new production color printer

Ricoh recently announced the Ricoh Pro C900, a new entry in the high-end color production printing market. Note that this machine is definitely intended for high-volume production and would be found either in a centralized in-plant printing department or in a corporation or in a commercial print-for-pay shop. The Pro C900 shares some basic features with Ricoh’s black-and-white Pro C905EX copier-multifunctionals, especially in terms of the paper supply and output features/ The VC900 can hold thick stock up to 110lb. cover (165lb. index), with dimensions up to 13" x 19.2" in size. An EFI Fiery Print Controller is standard,

The Pro C900 can hold up to 11,000 pages in its input trays. On the output side, there are a 10,000-shet stacker, several finishers, a booklet maker, a ring binder, and GBC punch unit.

Built on proven technology, this looks like a promising addition to the growing roll of production-oriented color printers on the market.

Monday, September 15, 2008

2008 Scan-to-File Guide

Better Buys for Business has just published its 2008 Scan-to-File Guide. This volume includes reviews and specifications for current document scanners ranging from 20ppm to 129ppm. Products from 15 vendors are covered, ranging from Avision to Xerox. It also contains a glossary, a buyer's guide, and a discussion of the requiremenets needed for document scanning.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Check your lease payments

A recent case in North Carolina might make you want to recheck your equipment leases. According to the story reported by WRAL, a Raleigh TV station, a local copier dealer has been arrested for using fake copier leases to defraud its clients.

The fraud came out when one customer (a restaurant franchisee) found that it was being billed for a lease on a copier it did not own. Subsequent investigation has turned up at least two more victims of the ploy, and there may be more than a dozen. As the head of the defrauded company said, “"We had not heard of any lease. Our owner's signature and my signature had been put on this document, (and they were) not our signatures.” The police have been tracking down stored (unused) copiers and forged documents.

We doubt that this kind of fraud is common, but it’s not hard to see how it works. The parts of most companies that handle the bills are rarely in close communication with the department that manages office equipment like printers and copiers. In addition, leasing agreements are often so complicated that they get less careful scrutiny than other expenditures. Few end user companies have even a centralized list of what they own and what they lease.

So this might be a good time to do an equipment inventory, re-check your leases, and evaluate exactly how much you are paying for printing and copying. You probably won’t find out-and-out fraud, but you may find confusion, underuse, and a reason to work with the dealer to renegotiate.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Epson moving fast into business-class ink jets

Up until now, Epson ink jet printers and all-in-ones were, like most of their competitors, of limited use to businesses. Once you looked past the rated draft speed to a “normal” resolution (around 600dpi) speed, the speed fell off disappointingly, often to under 5ppm. In addition, color ink has been expensive, often far more than laser toner. These printers, well suited to occasional printing and well equipped for printing digital photos, just weren’t suitable for a real business.

But Epson is rapidly changing that perception. It has come out with two new series of ink jet printers and MFPs that offer from good to excellent speed, more moderate printing costs, and (in some cases) more than minimal hardware features.

The WorkForce series contains two printers, the Workforce 30 ($70) and 40 ($130). These low-cost machines offer decent speeds averaging well over 10ppm at normal resolution. The WorkForce 40 also includes both Ethernet and Wi-Fi networking. Both machines have good photo printing features as well.

Two all-in-one multifunctionals are also included in the WorkForce series. The WorkForce 500 ($180) and 600 ($200) can print, copy, scan, and fax, and have a 30-sheet document feeder in addition to a platen. The printing speeds are over 20ppm in normal resolution.

Even more robust are the printers in the B series, made up of the single-user t B-300 ($329) and the network-ready B-500Dn ($529). These machines print at over 30ppm in normal mode. They have fairly solid paper handling for ink jet printers with 650 sheets of input. They also do not come with extensive photo printing tools bundled in, indicating where Epson is headed with this series.

But most exciting is the cost per page. Epson is claiming a cost per-blsck page cost for the 500DN of under one cent, and a color cost around 3.5 cents. The B-300 costs are a bit higher, but still remarkable for a low-cost printer.

We have yet to get our hands on any of these machines, so we’ll be a little skeptical for now. And speed figures on ink jet printers are notoriously variable, based on ink coverage for each page, unlike laser printers, which have much more predictable speeds. But if the speeds and costs are anything near on the mark, Epson is going to make a big inroad into the growing market for low-cost color laser printers. Like HP and Ricoh (and others to follow), Epson is on the way to making ink jet technology a real contended in the office.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Citigroup: Cut the Color Copies

In what may be a dismaying sign for the industry we cover here, Citigroup recently announced that its employees must cut back on color copying and printing.

The world’s largest bank, suffering billions in losses from the real estate market, has been doing some furious cost cutting. They’ve laid off a host of employees, tightened up expense accounts, taken away Blackberries, and (shudder) demanded that employees use only black-and-white for internal reports and presentations. In addition, duplex copying and printing will be enforced.

The memo sent out from the company includes the following item: “The use of color copying and printing dramatically increases our copying and printing costs. Color presentations are unnecessary for internal purposes; therefore going forward color copying and printing should only be used for client presentations. Also whenever possible, presentations should be printed double sided to reduce unnecessary paper usage. Over time, we will be removing color copiers and printers from the locations where they are not essential for purposes of preparing client presentations.”

The big copier and printer companies have to be concerned. Color pages are now the mainstay of these companies, and a slowdown (or even a reversal) of growth in this area is going to hit hard.

Every survey has shown that most of the growth in the industry has been in color, and the vendors have been eagerly pushing the importance of color in getting the message across. And everyone knows that once color gets established, it tends to get used for everything, from memos to spreadsheets. But with color pages costing between four to eight times more than equivalent black-and-white in most cases, corporations like Citigroup are starting to perceive that while a little color is a great thing, a lot of color is an expensive luxury.

We suspect that the big companies in our industry are going to have rethink their marketing approach or their pricing schemes.