Epson targets color laser printers at SOHO market

Epson is to offer two laser color printer models aimed at the SOHO market in the coming months and plans to sell them in the U.S. and in Europe.

Seiko Epson will put two color laser printers aimed at small businesses on sale globally within the next two months, the company said at a news conference in Tokyo Tuesday.

Both machines are designed to be compact but with enough functionality to appeal to small businesses wanting to upgrade from relatively inexpensive ink-jet and monochrome laser printers, according to Seiichi Hirano, director and chief executive of Epson's Imaging and Information Products Division.

The decision to ship the models to the U.S. in particular is a new move by the company, as it tries to convince small businesses and people who work at home that they can afford to switch to multifunction laser color printers, Hirano said.

Both models have scanner functions and both come with Ethernet and USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 connectivity, the company said.

The LP-A500 is 46 centimeters by 47 cm by 59 cm and weighs 31 kilograms, while the LP-A500F, which has a fax function and comes with an automatic document feeder, stands about 3 cms higher and is about 2 kgs heavier.

Both models can print five A4-size one-sided color copies per minute, or 25 one-sided monochrome copies, the company said. The maximum printing resolution for both models is 600 dots per inch (dpi). Per-copy costs are about YEN 15.2 (AU$0.18) for each single-sided color print and YEN 3.05 for each monochrome print, according to Epson.

Prices for the machines, which go on sale in Japan this Friday, will be about YEN 180,000 for the LP-A500 and YEN 210,000 for the LP-A500F. Prices for the U.S. market will be lower than those for the Japanese market because price competition in the U.S. is particularly severe, Hirano said.

The company plans to initially ship about 5,000 units per month, it said.