Sunday, November 30, 2008

Most Laser Printers are Razors, not Cars

Once upon a time, buying a small or midrange laser printer was like buying a car. Big upfront expenditure, lots of sweating the details, and a moderate amount of thought about gas mileage and scheduled maintenance, er, toner and fusers and all that.

Now, however, it's more like buying a razor. The core features are mostly reasonable, each "size" printer has a speed/duty cycle that determines its suitability for an installation, and the cost is so small that it's all about the consumables (blades).

So why won't vendors -- or manufacturers -- print the cost-per-page of consumables right next to the dpi, ppm, idle power consumption, and time-to-first-page?

It's easy to find 10x differences between otherwise similar printers in the cost-per-page based on the manufacturer's price for toner cartridges and their intended yield.

Big companies, of course, have IT purchasing folks who perform these calculations, factor in the discount they get because the CIO plays golf with the right people, and order the gear. In the case of printers, large companies are typically buying high-volume printers that are among the cheapest per page anyway.

But startups, professional practices (think doctors, accountants), small to midsize businesses -- they rarely calculate the TCO for each device. It would be helpful to have the consumables price per page listed right on the sticker, like MPG.

1 comment:

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