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Best All-in-One Business Printers 2017

Best All-in-One Business Printers 2017
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We tested five small business printers from large manufacturers such as Brother, Epson, HP and Xerox, which all scan, fax, print and copy. Read more here.

A paper-free world may indeed be our ultimate goal in business. But for now, printouts are still a necessity in a number of situations. That means most businesses need a budget-friendly multifunctional printer for those rare times you do need print, fax, scan or copy a document. But how do you pick one?

That’s why we tested five all-in-one printers from popular business machine manufacturers, including Brother, Epson, HP and Xerox. These business-friendly printers range in price from $200 to $400. Replacement ink ranges from roughly $20 to $80 and is available through the manufacturers, who often offer discount programs.

All tested printers do more than just print. They can also fax, scan and copy. You can connect to each printer via USB or Wi-Fi, as well as through mobile apps and cloud accounts.

Best Multifunctional Business Printers

Brother MFC-J5830DW Business Smart Plus with INKvestment Cartridges

Pros: Low-cost ink; 550-page fax memory; double-sided printing; two-year warranty; prints from mobile and tablets; wireless

Limitations: If you expect many hands to be adjusting feeders and removing paper jams, you may want to consider a more rugged printer.

Bottom Line: Black-and-white prints on the Brother MFC-J5830DW are comparable in quality to the other printers we tested, but it prints a bit faster than all but the simple black-and-white HP LaserJet printer. Its $26 black ink cartridges also won’t stress your budget. The color images we printed were mediocre, but suitable for general use. For the price, the Brother MFC-J5830DW is a solid model.

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Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Network Multifunction Color Printer with PCL/Adobe PS

Pros: Automatic two-sided printing and scanning; three-year warranty; clear color printing; prints from mobile; scans to cloud; remote setup options; high-capacity ink cartridges available

Limitations: While cartridges are reasonably priced, Epson reports that you should not use generic ink cartridges.

Bottom Line: The sizable Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 can handle a moderate workload of up to 2,500 pages per month, boasts a high resolution and created good-quality color prints in our tests. Colors looked bright, and small details such as clouds and skin color variations were noticeable. Plus, the $23 black ink cartridges won’t break your budget. But it’s not the speediest on the market.

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HP OfficeJet Pro 8720

Pros: Two-sided printing; color faxing; 100-page fax memory; Apple AirPrint compatible; 150-page output tray; eight scan file formats

Limitations: This printer only comes with a one-year warranty. You have to purchase two- or three-year warranties for extended coverage.

Bottom Line: The $229.99 HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 thermal inkjet printer isn’t the fastest, but it does support Apple AirPrint and sports a unique and sturdy design that prevents pages from ending up on the floor. Plus, it’s among the least expensive models we tested. It produced brighter and bolder black-and-white prints than most. It can scan, fax and copy well too. Ink cartridges are reasonably priced ($29 for black), and ink discount programs are available.

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HP LaserJet Pro MFP M130fw

Pros: Consistent print times; quality B&W printing; print from mobile; Apple AirPrint support; Google Cloud Print; 256MB memory; compact design

Limitations: Not a color printer

Bottom Line: The $219.99 HP LaserJet Pro MFP M130fw is an affordable and fast black-and-white laser printer, but the ink cartridges will cost you a whopping $62.99. This compact laser printer is intended for those who do not need to print often and do not need color printing. It would serve well as a low-cost second printer reserved for black-and-white printing.

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Xerox WorkCentre 6027

Pros: 512MB memory standard; mobile printing; collation; supports Apple AirPrint; junk fax filters; supports 81 fonts; on-site service support available

Limitations: Doesn’t support automatic double-sided printing

Bottom Line: The $429 Xerox WorkCentre 6027 is a durable laser printer that creates very attractive color and black-and-white prints, but the ink cartridges will cost you. It can also copy, scan, fax and email documents. It supports mobile printing and printing from the cloud, and provides more security features than most printers, including IP filtering, secure data transfers and junk fax filtering.

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Coming Soon: Epson WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 & Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C869R

Epson's latest color A3 multifunction printers might be worth your consideration. The WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 is a high-speed inkjet line head printer. It promises to print at 100 pages per minute and use 50 percent less power than color laser printers. The WorkForce Pro WF-C869R comes with a replaceable ink pack system, which Epson says makes it the lowest color printing cost in its class. It should be able to print 84,000 pages before an ink pack stops. Both will be available later this year. 

How We Evaluated All-in-One Printers

We tested all the print functions these machines offer. Plus, we took into account how simple it was to set up the printers and perform basic tasks such as adding paper. We printed Word docs, PDF files, invoices, images and PowerPoint presentations. We also printed a color test file, black-and-white clarity test pages, and copies of magazine pages.

We tested the scan and copy functions by comparing printed items to the originals and to one another. We also attempted to purposely create paper jams to see how simple stuck paper is to remove. As for basic printer features, we looked at resolution, recommended print volume, duty cycle, the print technology used, print speed, prints per ink cartridge, fax memory, mobile printing, warranty, compatible print media, double-sided printing and size.

Our test PCs were running the 64-bit version of Windows 10 and connected to the printers by USB. We used default preferences and added the latest version of the software available online.

We installed the printers without dedicated IT support, to best mimic a typical situation for a small business owner. These printers are simple to install, and if you don’t have a disc drive, you can install drivers and software from the manufacturer’s website. We did not have installation issues with these printers; however, in most cases you’ll need to purchase the connecting USB cords.

Note: We did not test until ink exhaustion, and we did not connect the printers to a fax service.

What We Learned in Testing

You get what you pay for. We experienced better print quality with the higher-priced machines. These printers are suitable for general office use; however, if you share printed products with clients and need exceptional quality, you’ll benefit from spending a bit more.

Most manufacturers will say that you need to only use its own ink cartridges. However, generic options often work. You’ll need to research ink options to learn if lower-priced options might be suitable for your print needs. Many also offer high-capacity cartridges that last longer.

The duty cycle is not the recommended monthly print volume. While the printer should be able to handle that much print volume (often 30,000 prints) from time to time, it is not recommended. The printer will last longer and perform better if the print volume is kept to the suggested page volume, often a few thousand pages per month.

Print times vary compared to reported speed. Variances could be caused by the PCs used, what was printed and other factors.

Often it is best to download drivers and software from the website, rather than from the included disc. The website usually offers the most up-to-date versions; the discs may include older versions.

Printer Buying Considerations

  • Monthly print volume: If you are required to print a large volume of documents, you’ll want to look for a printer that can support those needs. You’ll want to consult the recommended print volume rather than the duty-cycle volume for best results.
  • Print quality: Not everyone needs to invest in a printer that can produce photo-quality images or commercial print products. Unless the prints are part of your product or something you share with clients, it's likely sufficient to purchase a dependable printer with acceptable print quality.
  • Who will be using the printer: Most printers are simple to use. But if a lot of people will be using the printer, choose a durable one that is difficult to break by well-meaning co-workers removing a paper jam.
  • Fax support: Many use online fax services nowadays and may not need to use the fax features included with many printers. If you plan to use your printer for fax services, you’ll need to evaluate your fax volume and perhaps be prepared to set up a dedicated phone line to the printer.
  • Ink costs: For these types of printers, ink will likely be your largest ongoing cost. You’ll need to monitor usage and plan to include ink cartridges in your budget. Manufacturer ink purchase programs may help you reduce costs.
  • Print sources: All printers can print from a PC or laptop. Consider whether you also need other print options, such as printing from mobile sources, USB drives or cloud storage services.

Other business printers we considered: