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1. How much should I expect to pay for a new copier?

You can spend as little as $100 or as much as a few hundred thousand dollars on a copier. Neither of these extremes is the correct choice for most offices. The low-end "all-in-ones" that can be purchased for under $300 may seem like a great deal, and they are, as long as you don't need to use them very often. Their cost per page is far more than larger copiers and they can't handle steady business use, so they're really only useful for home offices. On the other side, $20,000 to $40,000 copiers are really only needed by copy shops or print centers for large offices.

The most common price range for a typical office copier is $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the speed and features you need.

For more details, check out our pricing overview; you can also evaluate leasing versus purchasing options in our price vs. lease section.

2. What is the difference between the different copy machines in terms of speed; I keep hearing about “Segment 1” versus “Segment 4” and so on...?

Copiers are sorted into six segments based on speed. Segment 1 machines run between 15 and 20 pages per minute (ppm), while massive Segment 6 copiers can crank out as many as 100 ppm or more. Of course, you'll pay more for faster copiers, and chances are you don't need those extreme high-end speeds. Most offices find that Segment 2 to Segment 4 copiers meet their needs, with speeds ranging from 20 to 50 ppm.

You can read more on our copy machine basics page.

3. A dealer was recently telling me that his copiers are "multifunction devices" and not just regular copiers – what’s the scoop?

As analog copy machines have been phased out in favor of digital machines, modern copiers are becoming true multifunctional devices. Most office copiers can now scan, print and send/receive faxes. That said, these capabilities are often sold as add-ons, so you can include them later if you want to start with a machine that just makes copies; you’ll just need to make this clear to whichever dealer you select.

For more, check out our copy machine applications and features overview page or, if you’re ready to connect directly with dealers to get prices quotes and more information, match to copier dealers with our quote request service (free request).

4. I mostly print in black and white but occasionally would like to make color copies – do I need separate machines?

A dedicated color machine is still significantly more expensive that a black and white machine (probably 25% more) and also will cost more per page due to the higher costs of color ink. An increasingly common option is a “hybrid” copy machine that mainly prints black and white but can also switch to color copying or printing. Unless you print a large volume of color and require very high-quality color reproduction, a hybrid machine is your best bet to keep ongoing costs down.

5. We have five people in our office and don’t make a ton of copies – can we get one of those $175 desktop machines?

Though tempting due to the low price tag, these office superstore specials are bound to frustrate you. They cost far more per page compared to a machine you can buy for around $1,500. In addition, they're not built for the kind of volume even a small office generates, which can lead to quick breakdowns – you may find yourself buying a new machine in a year or two. The desktop “all-in-one" is really only useful for a home office. If you really need to reduce the upfront expense, leasing a machine is an excellent option.

6. Service contracts drive me crazy – please, just tell me, what do I need to know?

This can be the most frustrating part of acquiring a new copier: it's really non-negotiable that you need a service contract, but how can you tell if you're getting a good deal? Never fear, there are a few important considerations that should help you navigate this step with relative ease. First, as with the machine itself, compare offers from a few dealers for the same level of service. Make sure they offer roughly the same level of service: all scheduled maintenance at a minimum, "house calls" if your copier breaks down, and the like.

Look at how a plan defines “parts.” They'll all cover "parts and labor" for maintenance – but some may cover parts that break, while others only cover parts that wear out. Check whether emergency repairs are covered, or charged separately. Also ask about guaranteed response times and whether or not a loaner machine is available when your machine needs repairs – many vendors offer this service.

You'll have to compare pricing models, too. Most contracts are based on an estimated monthly or annual copy volume, and the estimates are important. They typically won't reimburse you for under-usage during a given period, and going over the estimated volume will trigger higher per-copy fees. Look for a vendor who helps you set a realistic estimate so you get the coverage you need without wasting money.

To reduce your costs, consider a contract that does not include toner or ink. It may seem convenient to get all your supplies from one source, but you can often save money by getting these supplies elsewhere. Also make sure the future cost increases are limited to reasonable amounts – not more than 8%.

7. Can I use my new copier as the office printer and not waste a ton of money in the process?

Absolutely! Using your copier as a network printer allows your staff to print collated, stapled documents directly from their desks. Printing to a copier is faster than most laser printers, and the cost per page savings can be dramatic. Simply check with your IT department to make sure the copier is compatible with your network, and increase your estimate for monthly page outputs. If you don't have a good count of how many laser prints you currently make, simply add 30% to 50% to your estimated copy volume to get a rough idea.

8. What features should I consider for my copier?

Most modern machines include automatic document feeders (ADF), which allow you to copy a stack of documents instead of placing them one at a time onto the glass. If you need to copy lots of double-sided pages, consider a re-circulating ADF, which runs your originals through the machine twice to capture both sides.

Sorting and finishing options range from simple (multiple bins and stapled copies) to bin-free sorting (documents set at right angles to separate them) and folding, three-hole-punches and more. A sorting system is standard on most machines, while finishing options such as stapling or automatic hole punchers are optional.

Copiers can also offer a range of paper supply options, and features such as printing, faxing, scanning, image editing, and more. For full details, check out our copy machine applications and features overview page.

9. I found listings for inexpensive used analog copiers – what do you think?

The analog copier has been replaced by lower-cost, more reliable, feature-laden digital machines. Because of this, you can find great deals on analog copiers – but you’ll then be stuck with an out-of-date machine. It will be difficult to find parts and service, and you won't get access to modern features. Our advice is to avoid these problems, and focus on a digital machine that meets your needs in terms of speed, monthly volume capacity and feature requirements.

10. How about refurbished digital copy machines? Good idea or stay away?

A refurbished (used) digital copier can be a smart way to save money, as long as you do your homework on the machine you intend to buy. First, buy from a dealer. Buying a used copier from a classified ad may seem like a good way to save money, but without a guarantee or service plan, it's a risky choice.

When buying a refurbished copier from a dealer, check out their refurbishing process. It should include a full cleaning, inspection, and replacement of any and all worn parts. Additionally, the dealer should provide a warranty that goes beyond 30 days. Finally, invest in a quality service plan and avoid “as-is” discounts that come with little or no warranty or service plan.

You can find more information in our Copier Pricing page.

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