Home opinion-and-analysis ShawThing Printers for hire – you may be crazy to buy anymore

Printers for hire – you may be crazy to buy anymore

If your business, even a small business, is not using managed print services (MPS) it may be time to look again – no upfront hardware costs and pay by the month is very attractive to SME’s and larger corporates alike.

MPS (means nothing to pay for the printer – just pay a per page print cost to cover toner) has traditionally been the domain of direct selling printer giants like Canon, Ricoh and Fuji-Xerox. It makes sense to amortise the purchase cost of the printer, ongoing maintenance and toner purchases over the life of the printer by paying an all-inclusive per page cost.

My personal experience with larger photocopier based MPS schemes is that these can be several times more costly than buying outright and paying for the extras as you need them – including being locked into a machine for a set time period and not being able to shop around for toner or ink. But that has changed for the SME market where lower, technologically advanced laser printers now offer the functionality of copiers.

OKI have introduced ‘FlatRate’ on a range of small to high volume work group network printers that use its patented LED technology (see more on this later). The deal is simple – nothing to pay upfront, consumables supplied as required, free professional installation and next business day hot swap for warranty during the 36 month contract (an excellent warranty period at that). At the end of three years the printer is returned to OKI for recycling and you can get a new model - business printers seldom last much longer so this is an excellent end point solution.

The catch is that you commit to a regular monthly payment covering 1,000 sheets (but can be 3,000 for even lower per page costs). If you don’t use the allowance you lose it and if you go over you pay a little more. But OKI are pragmatists – they are late entrants into the MPS market and have implemented quarterly average to cater for those down months and high months so it is fairer than many "use it or lose it" MPS schemes.

The key difference is that a business buyer can go to its local, trusted IT dealer or network support company (anywhere in Australia) and they can set the deal up simply by placing an order with one of four distributors: Alloys, Blue Chip, Multimedia Technology and XiT. The paperwork side of things is managed by Distribution ONE. The local computer dealer makes a normal margin on the sale and consumables and can provide local warranty support as well.

There are nine printers in the initial FlatRate offering (price shown is per month is for 1,000 mono and where appropriate an additional 500 colour pages)

  • Mono, A4, 38ppm, duplex laser, B431DN, $59
  • Mono, A4, 40ppm duplex laser, B710DB, $65
  • Mono A4, 40ppm, duplex, Multi-function, MB491MFP, $69
  • Colour, A4, 30ppm, duplex, Multi-function, MC5672DN, $179
  • Colour A4/A3, 34ppm, duplex, Multi-function, MC852DN, $249
  • As above (pictured) plus 3 extra draws, MC862CDXN, $305
  • Colour, A4, 30ppm, duplex, laser, C531N, $159
  • Colour, A4, 36ppm, laser, optional duplex, C711N, $169
  • Colour, A4/A3, 35ppm laser, optional duplex, C831N, $199

When you think about the cost of replacement toner alone being say $40-80 per 1,000 mono/colour prints this is good value. It should appeal to small business that is now looking at software rental like Microsoft Office 365 or managed Exchange/Outlook email or VoIP phone systems.

About OKI technology

OKI have been in Australia since 1982 represented by IPL. OKI was best known for its dot matrix printers (and still makes them where companies need “carbon copies” or use sheet fed paper). OKI bought IPL's printer business and established company owned offices in Australia in December 2009.

OKI have a patented LED light source instead of a laser/mirror system for its toner based printers that is inherently more reliable as it uses less moving parts and has a much straighter paper path. Customers include Caltex (see iTWire story here) and one of its differentiating features is that 100% of its products are sold via the IT dealer channel including 160 national Office Brands stores.

While printers are traditionally “Out of the box” items OKI have set up a demonstration "play" centre at its head office at 67 Epping Road, Macquarie Park, Sydney as well as regional offices in Melbourne and Brisbane.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!