The concept of a “paperless office” can be traced back to the popularity of computer terminals in the 1960s.

The concept was a prediction that the reliance on paper in the business world would decrease as computers became more widespread.

Move the dial on the clock to 2014 and it became clear that the paperless office was but a pipe dream. Statistics portal Statista reports that in 2006 production of paper and cardboard worldwide amounted to 382.6 million metric tons annually; by 2014 that figure had reached 406.5 million metric tons. In 2017, that figure is likely even higher.

Paper, then, is not just here to stay, but we’re now using more of it than ever before. So much for that paperless office dream.

If anything, modern offices are more reliant on printing on paper than they’ve ever been. Thanks to that, we’ve seen printers evolving considerably and today, they are not just machines that transfer ink to paper. We now have cloud printing, we use smart devices to edit documents on the go, LCD screens on printers that add built-in functionality and increasing requirements for intelligent – and secure – document management.

Picking a printer for your small or medium sized business, then, has become something of a Herculean undertaking, requiring decision-makers to navigate specification sheets, weigh up individual printer capabilities and keep the intended workload in mind in order to find the perfect printer for daily use.

Of course you could just walk into the first tech shop you see and go eeny meeny miny mo to pick out a printer, but this is about business, and there’s definitely a smarter way to go about it. Like reading informative articles about what’s on offer, like this one.

Right tool, right job

There are a number of things to consider when buying a printer, chief amongst which is how many folks will be using the device and what their demands are.

For instance, an office of 3 – 10 people that print very rarely may find a desktop printer for under R1 000 serves their needs just fine, but as the number of people and their print demands grows, so too does the list of required features.

More people means longer print queues and thus more demand on the machine. That same desktop printer used by our office of 3 – 10 employees would tremble under the demands of a print-hungry organisation with a staff of more than 20 employees.

Other features to consider are whether you want full colour prints or monochrome (mono). Printing in mono might be cheaper but printing in colour, especially for presentation purposes conveys a greater sense of professionalism. The best solution then might be to have a colour printer for all out-going materials and a monochrome printer for all the in-house documents, but why do that and service two printers when you could just use one.

Other things to consider are whether you want a multi-function printer that scans, copies, faxes and emails, or if you just need something only dedicated to printing.

To assist you in deciding what printer is best for your business, we’ve outlined printers from several manufacturers and the benefits (and pitfalls) each presents. While each printer is unique in its own right, we have assessed them according to what business they might be suited to and what features may prove useful in day-to-day use.

Let’s get to the tech then, shall we?

First up the HP Pagewide Pro 452dw