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.


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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

reblogged from Small Business Trends

How long do hard drives really last?

One-hundred percent of all hard drives will eventually fail. This is a fact. Some will fail prematurely due to manufacturers’ defects while others will fail because a mechanical part finally wears out. The question is, how long until that happens?
Online backup provider has kept 25,000 consumer-grade hard drives constantly running for the last four years, diligently noting whenever a hard drive breaks down. The results are very interesting.
• Ninety-two percent of all hard drives will survive the first 18 months. These failures are typically due to manufacturers’ defects (oftentimes called the “lemon effect”). Hard drives’ warranties are typically one to three years, which is basically the manufacturers saying that they are only on the hook to replace the lemons.
• During the next 18 months, only a very small percentage of drives (~2%) will fail. These failures are from random “unlucky” issues and occur rarely anytime during the life of the drive.
• Beginning in year three, hard drives start to wear out due to usage. They are simply mechanical devices that are getting old. Eighty percent of drives will make it to year four and then they drop off at about 12% or more per year thereafter.
• The failure rate is essentially a U curve with most failures very early on or after the three-year mark.

So, What Does This Mean?
Simple. Back up your data. With a 1-in-10 chance that your hard drive dies in the first three years of its life and an accelerating chance of failure after that, there is no excuse for being caught without a solid backup. Ever.
Make a plan. Build equipment replacement into your budget at least every four years for most devices, with a 10% equipment-replacement expense built in over the 1st year and then again starting in year three.
As for that 10-year-old PC in the back room still running Windows XP and your most critical reporting software, the clock is ticking …

Smartphone Stolen?

Pop Quiz: You Just Discovered One Of Your
Employees Had Their Smartphone Stolen…

Quick, What Do You Do?

Over the last couple of months, we’ve come across some alarming statistics that you should know. Studies show that as many as 16% of smartphones are lost or stolen each year with only 7% of the stolen devices ever being recovered. Despite the fact that 60% of the missing smartphones are deemed to contain sensitive or confidential information, 57% of these phones were not protected with available security features, leaving the company exposed! In fact, only 14% of companies currently have a mobile-device security policy in place. The bottom line is, no matter how careful your employees are with their smartphones, losing a smartphone (or having one stolen) is likely to happen to you or your employees at some point in time.

In the hands of even a relatively unsophisticated hacker, all of your smartphone information can quickly be siphoned off. And time is of the essence for taking action. Criminals will remove the battery of your phone to prevent “remote wipes” of your data by your IT staff and then use a room without mobile access to break into the phone. This is akin to giving a thief the key to your data and the code to deactivate the alarm.

Asking employees to be more careful IS a good step in the right direction, but accidents happen and thieves are always on the prowl. That’s why it’s so important to take measures to lock down and secure any mobile devices you and your staff use to access your company’s network.

Here are just a few steps you can take now to be prepared:

1.     Strong Passwords. Enforce a strong mobile-device password policy and make sure your employees can’t leave devices unlocked and vulnerable.

2.     Enable Device Wiping. Prepare to be able to wipe both company-issued and personally owned devices that access company data. Make sure your employees are signing off on this before they add company data to their phones.

3.     Have A Plan In Place. If a phone is lost or stolen, act quickly! If you happen to find the phone again, then the data can likely be replaced; however, stolen data in the hands of a criminal can rarely ever be taken back!

5 Tech Tools to Watch in 2014

Written By Alerus Small Business Connect, December 4, 2013


It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, 2014 is going to be a virtual gift to small business success.

Next year will mark a more robust technological landscape than we’ve ever seen before. From print-free, scan-free contract software solutions to freelance solutions, many new offerings are simple to use, affordable, and save time.

Of course, nothing’s ever perfect, so here is our short list of products and platforms to watch in 2014, including a few pros and cons:

Part Angie’s List, part LinkedIn, Odesk is a freelance solution for businesses that rely on outsourcing work. Odesk allows users to post a job, find a professional, make a payment and track a project’s progress in one easy-to-use online dashboard.
The pros: You have access to thousands of experienced professionals in many fields, including web developers, content writers, SEO specialists and more.
The cons: You may spend more time searching for a good candidate when you could have spent that time calling up a trusted colleague and asking for a good, local referral.

PowerPoint is so 1999 now that there’s Slideshare. With it, businesses can share and swap presentations to anyone or any organization across the globe. Much like your Facebook newsfeed, the Slideshare homepage streams a host of trending topics from popular social media sites.
The pros: Analytics, ad removal and file uploads are free.
The cons: If you want to add services and more than one file, you have to sign up for a plan, which can get pricy at $41 a month ($490/year) for standard service.

Ideal for new or very small businesses, Square allows entrepreneurs to make a sale virtually anywhere using a small credit card scanner that attaches to most mobile devices.
The pros: Aside from the fact that you can make a profit anywhere you go, similar to Etsy, Square also hosts an online marketplace where consumers can browse and purchase from other small businesses.
The cons: Square takes 2.75% of each sale you make, meaning if you sell $100 worth of product or service, you’ll get $97.25 in return – funds that are available one to two business days after the transaction.

Ever wish Skype would allow drag-and-drop functionality and easier group chats? Well, Atlassian recently unleashed a new kind of instant messaging – HipChat. With mobile and online apps and platforms, HipChat goes with employees anywhere they need to be.
The pros: No server needed, and companies can sign up temporary users for freelancers, interns and other contract associates. Plus, it’s free for teams of five or less.
The cons: While you can switch from a virtual conference room to a private chat, users who like to gossip need to be careful that their message about Greg’s garlic breath doesn’t get posted to an entire team instead of one trusted coworker.

LastPass Enterprise
Between business accounts, accounting software, user profiles, website usernames, you likely have dozens of passwords stored in that noggin’ of yours (or at least you try your best). LastPass Enterprise vaults all of your passwords in one spot. Touted as “the last password you’ll need to remember,” LastPass Enterprise allows businesses to save and store passwords for you and employees, all while instantly adding and deleting profiles and accounts as needed.
The pros: For those of you who are wary of storing passwords in one place, (and for those who actually know what this means) LastPass uses AES 256-bit encryption with routinely-increased PBKDF2 iterations.
The cons: At $24 per user, and depending on the size of your small business, it could be an added expense that just isn’t worth it.

Although lots of these programs and platforms have been around awhile, we’ll likely see most of them gain in popularity among small businesses as the year progresses. It will be interesting to see which ones succeed in enticing – and helping – entrepreneurs gain business without losing money or time.

REBLOGGED:  This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 at 2:45 pm and is filed under Technology