ISSUE 424: THE HIGH-TECH OFFICE--Alan
Using an office printer in place of photocopier is
worth considering for frequent 'mopying' - Dec 9 1997
For the last two weeks, we've looked at
printers. Two weeks
ago, we played with Epson's Stylus 800, a high-resolution,
colour inkjet aimed at small offices. Last week, we checked out
multifunction printers -- devices combining printers with fax, scanners
and copiers -- again, aimed at small offices.
Some of us, however, need more printer power. If
you've got multiple users in your office connected to a local area
network, it may make sense to invest in a faster, higher capacity
network printer. While these printers are more expensive than personal
laser or inkjet printers, it's clearly less expensive to buy one of
these than to put an individual, less expensive unit in every office.
And printer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard suggests
that using a network printer could cut down on your photocopying costs
If you're like most of us, when you need a dozen
copies of a report, you print out a single original, walk down the hall
to the department's photocopier and make a dozen copies. The
photocopier prints, collates and staples. Assuming it's working.
HP claims, however, that you can save time, wear and
tear on the photocopier, and about two cents a copy by printing all
dozen copies on a high-speed network printer -- a model that can print
double-sided, collate and staple. HP gets that figure by factoring the
time it takes you to walk to and hover around the copier, along with
the costs of the printer and supplies versus the photocopier and
They're even trying to create a new word -- "mopy," as
in "mopier" and "mopying," for sending multiple originals to your
printer instead of copying. While I find their attempt at reinventing
language ugly, the use of a computer printer in this way has a lot
going for it. Ask yourself how much of your photocopying involves
originals that you've just printed from your computer; if it's a
significant proportion, it may be worth moving that fraction of your
printing from the photocopier to your printer.
But to do so, you need a couple of things. Your
typical personal printer, inkjet or laser, isn't designed for the load
you'll want to give it. As well, it lacks the features -- collating,
stapling, etc. -- of your photocopier. And its slow speed will send you
back to the photocopier.
As well, typically, to make a dozen copies, your
computer sends a dozen print requests to the printer. If everyone in
the office is doing that, that's one more strain on the network. Newer
network printers, from HP and competitors such as Lexmark and Xerox,
avoid this problem with rewritten printer drivers. Newer models, like
HP's LaserJet 5si Mopier, include their own hard disk, along with
multiple paper bins, stapler, collator and so forth. It uses the hard
disk to store your document, along with the commands for how you want
it printed. As a result, a single print command is all you need to
produce as many copies of your document as desired.
Sales of 24-page-a-minute network printers are
booming, with growth in sales this year of 500 per cent over last
year's level. And this at a time when sales of similar-speed, midrange
photocopiers are dropping.
This is part of a more general trend. In 1995, for the
first time, more pages were printed by computer printers than were
Network printers range in price from about $2,000 to
more than $10,000, and like photocopiers, vary in both features and
target market. Lower-end models are slower (maybe 12 pages a minute),
lack fancy paper handling and capacity, and are targeted at a
relatively small number of users, perhaps a workgroup of about five.
Other models, progressively more robust, faster,
feature-laden and pricey, target groups of a dozen or so, departments
or even entire enterprises. Along with HP, Lexmark, and Xerox, other
models aimed at network printing come from Apple, Brother,
IBM, Genicom, Kyocera, and QMS.
(If I've left anyone out, I apologize.)
One final tip: If you're connecting your users with a
peer-to-peer network, such as is built into the Mac or Windows 95,
you'll find performance increases tremendously if you can set aside an
old computer as a dedicated print server.*