Top All-in-One Printers for Small Businesses

If you haven’t shopped for a printer recently, the models currently available for small offices might surprise you. Prices have decreased substantially over the past 5 to 10 years, yet devices have gotten better and the print quality much higher. You can find a good quality printer that does color printing for under $200.

We recently looked at printer lines suitable for small offices.  We define a small office as having up to 5 people, with modest levels of usage.  So that means these devices are suitable for a home office, or for a small business that does not require high volumes of printing and is satisfied with moderate printing speed.  In other words, these printers are not for businesses that routinely print many thousands of pages per month and require high speed and high-volume paper feeders.  Instead, the typical small office needs a printer that balances economy with convenience and features.

Also, most small offices get benefits from having several functions in one device.  All-in-one printers include printing, scanning, copying, and faxing capabilities in one device, thereby saving space and money.  That is why they are called “all-in-one” or multifunction devices. Today these are very popular among small businesses.

What’s more, today’s top all-in-one printers pack a surprising amount of technology in them.  Simply put, printers are getting smarter — and they do more. Some of the printer lines below offer sophisticated features like wireless connectivity, printing directly from mobile devices, ability to download photographs directly from a camera, touch screen menus, and access to documents stored in the cloud.  Look for more of these kinds of advanced technology features to become standard in the near future.

Today’s machines generally are more energy efficient than predecessors.  You can leave your printer on all the time, but with power-saving mode it will use little power, and it won’t take forever to warm up when you finally do need it, either.

For most small offices, we recommend an inkjet device — versus a laserjet.  Compared to a laserjet, inkjets in general are:

  • smaller and lighter
  • less expensive to buy
  • better at printing photographs and documents containing images, than laserjets
  • suited to relatively low volumes.  If your printing volume is low, then low speed and capacity won’t be a negative. But if you need to print thousands of pages in a day, or regularly copy or scan long documents yet the document feeder only holds 30 pages, this can get old, fast.

If you need professional quality printing, such as for printed brochures and signage, or for occasional high-volume print jobs, we recommend your local print shop for those.

And of course, with visuals so much a part of today’s documents, you’re going to want a color printer, not just black and white.

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of buying ink. Ink for inkjet printers can be expensive, and may add hundreds of dollars of cost per year even for a very small-volume office.  Consumer Reports has tips for saving on ink costs.

Take a look at the options below.  They are listed by company name in alphabetical order.


Top All-in-One Printers for Your Small Business




Brother Business Smart

top all-in-one printers

Brother Business Smart printers range in price from about $170 to $250. Basic features include touch screen displays and color printing. As you might expect, extra features come with the higher priced models. These printers all offer wireless connectivity with computers and mobile devices. You can also access documents from online accounts like Facebook, Picasa, Google Docs and Evernote and print them from the Web directly on these printers.

There’s another unique feature that comes with the Business Smart printers line. That’s the ability to customize your printer by creating different shortcuts for the functions you use most often.




Canon PIXMA

top all-in-one printers

Canon’s PIXMA line handles basic printing well, and specializes in printing photos and graphic documents. Canon also has four different PIXMA printers under $100. So this is a consideration depending upon your budget. Overall, prices range from about $70 to $150. The bare bones model still offers photo printing and editing options. The higher end models offer higher resolutions and other added features.




Epson WorkForce

top all-in-one printers

This line of all-in-one printers includes some options that are compact and basic. But there are also printers with more versatility and features for a slightly higher cost.  Prices range from $100 to $200, so it depends on the specific features you are looking for in your printer and your budget.

Each of the four models has mobile and wireless printing options. They can also print black and white documents at much higher speeds. But, like all the printers you’ll find on this list, they also offer color printing. The pricier models have LCD screens and additional features like automatic two-sided printing and energy efficiency.

The less expensive models have fewer features and lower print speeds. But, on the plus side, they are more compact for a home office or small business office.




HP Officejet

top all-in-one printers

HP’s Officejet printer line is solid and proven, and ranges in price from about $100 to $400. You get basic features like wi-fi compatibility and duplex printing on all of these. The higher priced machines give you higher printing speeds, better resolution, and some more advanced features, most notably additional Web functionality.




Kodak Hero

top all-in-one printers

Not all of the devices in this Kodak series have faxing capabilities, but they all print, scan, and copy. Some models also have features specific to photo printing like a separate photo tray for photo paper. All models include basic features like wireless and two-sided printing. Kodak doesn’t sell its Hero line of printers on its website, but popular retailers like Walmart carry them starting at $100 for the base model.

Kodak came out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013 after reorganizing. The focus now is on providing businesses with solutions.




Lexmark MS310/410 Series

top all-in-one printers

Lexmark offers a series of three printers that are affordable and functional for most small offices. They range from about $200 to $400 in price. So they can be more expensive than some other available models in our listings. But they include features like LCD screens, mobile printing, dual core processors and built-in memory to handle complex documents.




Ricoh Multifunction

top all-in-one printers

Ricoh carries 25 different all-in-one printers with color printing. The devices vary in printing speeds and offer different specialties and even the ability to handle varying paper sizes. However, many are built for larger businesses and volumes and the prices reflect that. The SP models tend to be the most compact and still offer wireless printing and sharing capabilities. Prices for those models start at around $350.




Xerox WorkCentre

top all-in-one printers

The Xerox brand at one time was almost synonymous with copiers (ever heard of “xeroxing” something?).  Today, Xerox tends toward the higher end when it comes to all-in-one devices, compared with some of the other manufacturers. For example, its WorkCentre 6605 model pictured above can handle up to 80,000 images per month, but sells for nearly $1,000.

However, Xerox does offer some less expensive, color multifunction devices starting at around $450.  Still, most WorkCentre models are better suited for higher-volume offices.


Printer Photo via Shutterstock

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10 Digital Assistant Alternatives To Apple’s Siri

siri alternatives

Ten years ago it might have seemed impossible that someday you might have a digital assistant that lived in your phone. And that assistant would search for the answers you need when you need them and speak to you just like a flesh and blood office assistant.

When Apple introduced Siri on the iPhone all that changed. Today, Apple is not the only company that provides you a digital assistant for managing your day and your business.

Below is a list of some of the Siri alternatives. They may not do everything Siri does. (Some may even do more and in a different way.) But they’re all worth a look to see which, if any, might best suit your needs.

Siri Alternatives

Google Now

siri alternatives

Of course, it goes without saying that Google has tested the digital assistant waters by launching Google Now for the iPhone and Android. Being a Google product, it works remarkably well.

Using your built-in GPS function on your phone, it determines where you are at, at all times. Then it provides services which may prove useful to you.

For example:

  • If you are on a trip, it will inform you of places of importance on your route.
  • If you are commuting to and from work, it will tell you how long it will take to get home (based on current traffic reports), as well as provide a map.
  • It will give you the current temperature, as well as the temperatures for the next few days.
  • It will provide you with relevant news based on information you provide.
  • You can tell Google to store your reminders, and, if it involves a geographical location, it will remind you when you arrive there.

This information is provided on “cards” which appear on the screen. When you don’t need it anymore, you can use your finger to swipe away the card.

If you use Google Chrome, Google Now is integrated into the browser. So if Google Now is activated on your phone, the reminders will be synchronized to your browser, too.

Getting started is easy. Google Now is already built in to the Google search app for either iOS or Android.

Windows Phone 8.1 Cortana

siri alternatives

There has been considerable excitement over the release of Microsoft’s first digital assistant, Cortana. Named for a character in the video game Halo, Cortana has some features that are far beyond those offered by Siri. Available with Windows Phone 8.1, it does much more than simply navigate the Web to find the answers to your queries.

By telling Cortana who you are, including information about your business and some personal details, it can learn about you and how to provide you with more of the information you need. People will see plenty of similarities between Cortana and Google Now, which shows you your travel data, calendar updates and more. You can quickly glance at your day by checking traffic, weather, news headlines and so on. You can also plan your upcoming business trips and check for important locations along your route.

Vokul

siri alternatives

This is not a free option – Vokul costs $2.99. I downloaded it for this post to see it in action, after hearing good things. After playing around with it for a while, I found it a bit difficult to get used to. But eventually it becomes easier to use and does have some worthwhile features.

One interesting feature is that it will read your Twitter or Facebook feeds to you. Beware, however. In the case of Facebook, Vokul will also read all the comments to a status update, too. And that may be a bit too much information, depending upon how many comments you usually receive. Another interesting feature is that it can actually enhance your workout. Vokul can adjust the tempo of the music you are listening to so that it matches the speed of your exercise regimen, say, when jogging, for example.

Dragon Go

siri alternatives

If you own an iPhone, Dragon Go comes pre-installed. Widely considered to be one of the best voice recognition apps ever made, it is not so much a Siri alternative. It provides a totally different service, but one just as important.

Dragon Go is purely a dictation app, nothing more. It won’t start your music for you or check the traffic for your commute home. But using it, you can dictate text, then email it, SMS it, or use it to update your Facebook or Twitter accounts. For some people, that is more than enough.

For example, you can use Dragon Go to dictate reminders to yourself when you are out, then have them emailed to you. Dragon Go has a very high success rate when correctly understanding a user’s voice, so repeating yourself is rare if you speak clearly.

SpeakToIt Assistant

siri alternatives

This digital assistant comes with a visual manifestation, not simply a voice. Appearing as a female named Sam, she performs a variety of functions. These include sending SMS’s, looking things up online, playing your music, composing emails, and more. You can customize the app by renaming your assistant. An upgrade to a premium version will give you even more services and allow you to change your assistant’s appearance.

Evi

siri alternatives

Evi is a free app which can answer many of your questions. All you need to do is speak your question into the phone, and it will look the answer up and respond. Evi obviously relies very strongly on search engines, and your GPS. So you can ask it location-based questions, like the name and address of local restaurants or other important locations on a business trip. You can also ask it to research questions on the Web.

Voice Answer

siri alternatives0

The simply named Voice Answer is represented visually as a robot that can send SMS’s, play music, send email and look up answers to questions. But it can also remind you of appointments to keep you on schedule. If you find the robotic voice annoying after a while, you can switch it off in the settings. The free version of the app runs advertising, but you can eliminate this by simply paying a few dollars for a premium version.

Voice Actions/Jeannie

siri alternatives

This digital assistant  is another offering from Nuance, the makers of Dragon Go, which we reviewed earlier on this list.  There is no free version and the download is $2.99. But this visual assistant does send SMS’s, emails, and look up answers to questions online. It even posts to social media. User reviews on the iTunes store suggest it may not be your best choice, however, and the interface seems somewhat spartan.

Sara

siri alternatives

For those brave enough to “jailbreak” their iPhone (install third party software to enable the iPhone to do things it previously couldn’t), you may consider using Sara. The website for this digital assistant says it is for iPhones and iPod Touch’s up to and including the iPhone 4. So it’s uncertain how the app will work on newer devices.

But before jailbreaking your phone, be aware that you will be voiding your warranty and thus have little recourse if there is a problem with installation.

EasilyDo

siri alternatives

If your business involves remembering many dates or times, this next digital assitant may be a good fit. EasilyDo tries to take care of all your reminders. It can also send you directions to and from work and other important destinations, set up and schedule Facebook updates and keep track of your travel tickets and boarding passes. It can also manage your contacts, merging duplicate entries, adding new details to existing contacts, and so forth.

Donna

Though apparently no longer available, Donna is a digital assistant worth mentioning. Named after the character Donna Moss in the TV series “The West Wing,” the app collected and managed a wide range of information. This included an ever increasing list of resources including local traffic information, parking information, driving directions from Google and, of course, information from your own digital calendar.

The app’s maker, Incredible Labs, was acquired by Yahoo, however. And Donna was scheduled to be shut down. An email to Yahoo asking about Donna’s status was not answered at the time of this publication.

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