Printer & Multifunction Peripheral (MFP) BuyingGuide

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					              Printer & Multifunction Peripheral (MFP)
                                          State of Montana
                                            Buying Guide
                                                 June 2007

Multifunctional Peripherals are devices that combine several core technologies,
including image scanning, document printing, copying and fax function into a
single unit. The prices for these devices have come down as of late and now are
competitively priced with single function workgroup printers. They fall into three

Low-end devices are generally designed for the Small Office/Home Office
(SOHO) market. They are typically built around a fax machine, but connect to a
computer for scanning and printing. The can also be used as a copier for items
that can feed through the fax scanner. Prices for low-end MFPS cost anywhere
from $600 for a basic ink-jet model to about $4,000 for a laser printer model.

Mid-range MFPs are based around copier functionality. These machines
typically include a book plate for copying magazines, books or other dimensional
items. They also connect to a computer for printing and scanning, and they can
send and receive faxes if attached to a telephone line. These units are ideal for
small workgroups, where workers can reduce the time need to walk to larger
office machines. Mid-range MFPs cost anywhere from $2,500 to $7,000.

High-end MFPs combine copying and printing functions into a single unit. These
units offer fast printing, plus sorting options (such as stapling) normally not found
on printers. The idea behind these machines is to provide copier-like
functionality for the desktop computer, enabling users to print and collate multiple
copies without the added step of using a separate copier. High-end MFPs
designed for production environments can cost up to $60,000.

Pros and Cons

There are many reasons to purchase a MFP. They are less expensive to own
and manage than multiple pieces of office equipment. With fewer machines, you
benefit from lower supply and maintenance costs because fewer consumables
and service calls are needed.

However, MFPs are not always able to match the performance of their
standalone competitors. For example, they may not be able to handle envelopes
and labels like a standalone printer and typically lack the variety of paper trays
and printer fonts you come to expect from a similar printer model. As scanners,
MFPs often do not offer the resolution you would again expect from a standalone

This paper uses the following references: Gartner Group, PC Magazine, Network
Computing Magazine, InfoWorld Magazine
model. Their scanners tend to be adequate for images and texts, but poor for
photos and other detailed images.

MFPs function quite well as fax machines. But herein lies security issues not
found with network-attached standalone printers. The communications
capabilities of MFPs introduce security risks through the MFP’s fax modem. A
device that has a phone line and a network interface is a potential back door for
hackers. Additionally, MFPs have hard drives that store the data prior to being
printed or that was scanned in as part of the copy or network scanning functions.
These hard drives can be compromised by attacks on either side the firewall.

Needs Assessment

Before purchasing an MFP, its important to understand how much printing,
copying or faxing is being done.

How important is the ability to print in color? How often do you need to print or
copy large quantities of collated and stapled materials?

How important is scanning? Do you scan photos or primarily text and image

How important is it that desktop users have direct fax capabilities from their

Have you considered fully the potential security issues of MFPs? How does the
addition of the networked devices impact your security policies?

Some single-function copiers may remain because some workers, such as clerks
and administrators do too much copying to share the device as a printer,
whereas some single-function printers will remain because the nature of the work
drives printing rather than copying.

A thorough needs assessment will help you understand if and how MFPs will
improve business processes and save money.


MFPs are often priced the same way as copiers. They are usually leased, with
service and supply contracts negotiable and based on usage volumes. This is
quite different than the pricing strategies in the printer market.

The pricing model includes three main parts; Purchase/Lease and Payment
Schedule, Financing, and Service Contracts.

This paper uses the following references: Gartner Group, PC Magazine, Network
Computing Magazine, InfoWorld Magazine
Service contracts usually commit you to paying for a certain number of
prints/copies per month. Most dealers have usage-volume tiers and have price
ranges for each tier. The higher your tier, the lower the per print/copy cost
should be. However, you pay for x number of pages even if you don’t use them
all. If you exceed your allotment, you pay extra.

Procurement Vehicles

For copiers, there are three manufacturers under an exclusive contract - Canon,
Ricoh, and Toshiba.

For printers, there are four manufacturers under non-exclusive WSCA contracts
– HP, Dell, Kyocera, and Lexmark. However, purchase is limited to these four by
way of State standard for printers.

MFPs can be purchased from Canon, Ricoh, and Toshiba under the Copier
Contract, or from HP and Kyocera (additional MFPs supported by ITSD) under
the WSCA contracts or any other State procurement vehicle.


A MFP may be a good choice if;

         You have printers, scanners, fax machines or copiers that seem to be
         excessively or completely underutilized.
         Your users spend a lot of time moving documents from one device to
         another – printer to fax machine for example.
         You could improve your office workflow or data storage systems by
         converting documents to electronic format for sending, sharing, archiving.
         You want to reduce maintenance and consumable costs associated with a
         large disparate inventory of office machines.

It is incumbent upon the agency to carefully weigh these considerations in order
to determine the best course of action (including which contract to use) at the
time of procurement.

This paper uses the following references: Gartner Group, PC Magazine, Network
Computing Magazine, InfoWorld Magazine

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