Printer bonanza: save money and get the right printer for your small business

We take a look at the best printers and multifunctions for small businesses

Printers for small businesses account for a large chunk of the printer market. These days, businesses have plenty of choice — between inkjets and lasers, multifunctions and standard printers — and this can make decisions about which printer to purchase confusing.

Many of the ideas held by buyers and shop assistants alike outdated or exaggerated. To aid small businesses that are looking to buy a new printer, we've gathered the best inkjet printers and multifunctions that fulfil different offices' needs, and tracked down some end of financial year bargains.

Laser Replacement — HP Officejet Pro Series

"Laser is better than Inkjet." This argument has been around longer than most can remember. Many consumers simply assume that lasers have better consumable costs and produce better quality text and colour. This isn't exactly true. Many current business-oriented inkjet printers and multifunctions compete with lasers not only in terms of print quality, but in consumable efficiency as well.

HP's Officejet Pro series is a great example of this, providing fantastic text quality and low consumable costs at a remarkable price point. The Officejet Pro K5400dn printer and Officejet Pro L7380 multifunction both manage printing speeds of up 23 pages per minute (ppm), while retaining a consumable cost of 12c, providing tough competition for laser printers like the Fuji Xerox DocuPrint C1110. Be sure to check out our full K5400dn and L7380 reviews before deciding on a laser.

What's Hot: Laser-like quality text, excellent consumable costs.

EOFY Deals: The Officejet Pro K5400dn currently has a recommend retail price of $249, but hunt around and you should be able to pick it up for $202.40, saving you a total of $46.60. The Officejet Pro L7380 has a sticker price of $299, but you can save $52.60 by finding it for $246.40.

All-Round Powerhouse (Small Business) — Canon MX850

With most businesses trying to cut costs, it's reasonable to assume that one printer can handle most office needs. Those searching for the perfect multifunction for the small office need look no further than the Canon Pixma MX850. A combination of well-implemented features and intuitive software enable the MX850 to fill the requirements of many small businesses. Canons are known for their professional look, great print quality and detailed scanning — all of these hold true for this device. There's also an extensive range of connection options: USB, Ethernet and Bluetooth. Find out more by checking out our full review.

What's Hot: Excellent print quality and speed.

EOFY Deals: The Pixma MX850 has an RRP of $449 at the moment, but the keener buyers should find it as low as $348.95, saving you a whopping $100.05.

All-Round Powerhouse (Home Office) — Brother MFC-685CW

The home office multifunction is one of the most competitive parts of the printer market. The major manufacturers all vie for the upper-hand, offering connectivity features, photo editing and good printing quality. In the inevitable situation of a home office overlapping with your family, you'll want a multifunction that suits both. The Brother MFC-685CW is an excellent solution. This multifunction printer offers USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as decent colour quality and a large screen for basic photo editing and photo printing. It's easy to use and a great match for the home office. We give the printer a full workout here.

What's Hot: Built-in 802.11g wireless networking, it can print while it scans, built-in memory card reader and direct USB port.

EOFY Deals: The MFC-685CW currently retails for $399, dearer than the $249 price tag of its main competitor, the Epson Stylus CX9300F. Still, the connection options and ease of use ultimately outweigh this, and you'll save a massive $117.05 when you manage to find it for $281.95.

Print Quality — Canon MP970

Despite the increasing competition in the printer market for the best features and connection options, print quality remains high on the agenda for many businesses. When regular production of in-house marketing materials is important, many offices look for the best possible print quality at a reasonable price. The Canon PIXMA MP970 comes the closest to professional quality in an inkjet, with vibrant colours and defined blacks. Although not as business-oriented as other models, it still boasts an auto-duplex unit for cost-saving double-sided printing, something which its competitor — the Epson Stylus Photo RX690 — unfortunately lacks. See what else we thought about the printer here

What's Hot: Great print quality, 35mm negative scanning, Ethernet port.

EOFY Deals: The PIXMA MP970 originally sold for a reasonable $399, but we've managed to spot this multifunction for $309 — a saving of $90.

Portability — HP H470b

Unfortunately, all the technology in the world can't eradicate the need for businesspeople to travel long distances. Still, with the right technology, life can be much easier. If you're after a printer to take on the road, you consider the HP Officejet H470b. Built as a highly portable A4 printer, the H470b is battery powered and has extensive connectivity options if you purchase the optional Bluetooth and Wi-Fi dongles. For a printer of this size, the print speed and quality are great, and the battery will last up to 480 pages when connected through USB. Find out more about the portable printer here.

What's Hot: Extremely portable, wireless connectivity.

EOFY Deals: HP's set retail price of $499 may seem steep, but some retailers have slashed this printer's price to $406.69.

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James Hutchinson

PC World
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