Laser MFD.

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Dec - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2006
Laser MFD.
The falling price of laser printers, and the fact that all-in-ones are much cheaper than the individual devices taken together, will shed light on the reasons for the popularity of laser MFDs these days. This is a device designed from the ground up to be space-saving and economical both in terms of power and consumables.

Some might argue that it's not without its shortcomings. If one part of the device breaks down (say the printer), the entire device becomes unusable, or at best partially usable. Another point to remember is you cannot upgrade individual components. However some laser MFDs have large duty cycles (heavy usage) to the order of a thousand prints a day or more. In such cases build quality is supreme and these devices don't break down easily. Most manufacturers also provide on-site support.

Myths And Realities
Laser MFDs have higher running costs
One of the most common misconceptions. Consider this: suppose you were to use your office MFD daily to print, photocopy and fax. You would be using consumables (toner and paper) for each of these tasks. The device will use more consumables than a discrete printer (which is used for only one task). This is what most people complain about-without noticing, of course, the multiple uses of the device. Running costs in most cases is actually lower as compared to running discrete devices, and at worst, they will be equal.

Individual devices perform their specific tasks better
Not really. This has more to do with the fact that people compare high-end scanners to the scanner inside a mid-range laser MFD, or a photo printer's print quality to a regular colour MFD. A high-end MFD will perform as well as discrete devices for the same jobs. It's really a matter of a bigger one-time investment that causes the initial hiccups.

Future Trends
Laser MFDs used to be somewhat of an unusual sight in most offices until around a couple of years ago. Falling prices, coupled with the realisation of the convenience MFDs offer, have made them popular. They could be even more so, we feel, if only for the problem of the high initial costs, which proves insurmountable for smaller business concerns. Sadly, prices haven't fallen much, so there is no silver lining! Yet, we've seen laser printers getting much cheaper.
MFDs will hopefully experience similar price drops.

What To Look For
Define Your Usage: The age-old rule holds good here. First of all, look at what part of the MFD you'll require more service from. Are you going to be printing a lot? Just need a lot of scanning and fax functions? Not all MFDs are best suited for a single task. Some may have heavy-duty printers, while others may use a higher-quality scanner-this is part of manufacturers' product positioning, and there's nothing you can do about it!

Cost per page: As a large enterprise, you probably aren't concerned with the cost of the device as long as your cost per page is low. Heavy usage may see as many as 60,000 pages printed per month from a single printer. In such cases it becomes very important to consider this parameter. Laser toner is one consumable that isn't cheap, not by any stretch of the imagination! Moreover, whether you are printing, copying, or receiving a fax, you are using toner! More expensive MFDs have a higher duty cycle, and will also give more output per toner cartridge. Cheaper MFDs are a smaller initial investment but have higher running costs.

Speed: Important for all business houses, where time means money. Look at the PPM (page per minute) count carefully while choosing an MFD. There will be separate specifications for PPM count while printing, scanning, and copying that need to be checked. While the specifications on paper are not attainable under normal working conditions, they are indicative of performance.
Software: An MFD is incomplete without adequate software. Most laser MFDs will be network-based, and besides this, you'll need software for the individual functions in addition to the mandatory drivers.

On-Site Support: You may buy the best available laser MFD, but the unthinkable can, of course, happen anytime: while breakdowns are annoying, even a small quirk can seriously affect productivity. Imagine your office for even a day without any printing or fax capabilities! And then image lugging the huge thing to a service centre! Nearly all MFD manufacturers provide on-site support; unfortunately, it's not 24/7. However, on-site support with most of the bigger companies is usually good-easily within 24 hours of the breakdown in larger cities, provided there are no non-working days coming up. Insist on on-site support, and check with other customers about the effectiveness and dependability of the support before deciding on a product.

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