How many printers do you really need?

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How many printers do you really need?

There isn't much point, after all, in owning a network printer capable of printing thousands of pages per month at a ridiculously low price per page if the people that use it don't print out that much on a day-to-day basis.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need more than you actually do. We often quote duty cycles in our laser printer reviews and toner costs over many thousands of pages, but you'd be forgiven for wondering whether you really need a printer that's capable of such high volume.

To prove the point, we carried out a little investigation and took a wander around the floor at Haymarket Media - the home of PC Authority - to find out how much of the laser printer capacity the people in our office were using.

Our first port of call was the main PC Authority office laser, an HP LaserJet 8150N with an A4 speed of 32ppm and a maximum duty cycle of 150,000 per month. We logged onto its web-based administration pages, and discovered it had printed the sum total of 158,049 pages since its installation.

Another 8150N, also serving the PC Authority staff and a couple of other teams, boasted a tally of 95,049 pages. Both printers have been in situ, faithfully churning out the pages, for well over three years.

Bearing in mind the capabilities of these printers, their presence would seem a touch over the top in this particular office. The two are capable of printing, in theory, up to 300,000 pages between them per month. In reality, it's taken us three years to reach that figure.

In fact, just one could capably serve the entire floor and then some, not just one quarter of it. This scenario must be played out time and time again in IT departments across the country - so when the time comes to replace your work printer, before you commit the cash to buy a new one carry out a quick survey of the printer you already own to find out how much it is being used and try to work out exactly how much capacity you really need.

In fact, this month's Labs proves that you don't need a monster laser printer such as the 8150N unless you plan on serving hundreds of staff with just one printer. This month's labs overall winner could well be all the printer you need with rapid output rates, high duty cycles, good paper capacity and low running costs.


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