A4 Printers: the Full Guide
Choosing an A4 Printer for Your Office
Companies that are looking to review colour printers for their office will quickly find that their biggest need will be to handle A4 sized documentation. At 210 by 297 millimetres, the A4 format is the most prevalent paper size for printers and photocopiers. This paper size is used in a variety of contexts, from printing legal contracts, to operational reporting, accounting, promotional materials, and invoicing.
It is important to consider how an A4 printer will contribute to your business; understanding what determines a printer’s operational capacity will help you choose the right printer for your organisation. There are essentially four qualities that will help you determine which printer will be best matched with your needs:
- Print speed, determined by the number of pages that it can print in a minute.
- Print cost, or toner yield, determines the number of pages you can print before needing to change the toner cartridge.
- Print quality is defined by the resolution, otherwise known as dots per inch (DPI), that can be printed on a surface.
- Print duty cycle, or the number of pages that a printer can print per month before it will become overburdened and risk being damaged.
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Different Types of A4 Printers
There are various types of A4 printers that are used by a wide range of businesses in the UK. They vary in the scale and scope of printing capabilities and, depending on your particular needs, they can differ in acquisition and running costs.
The best printer for your organisation will depend on your current and future printing needs. To maximise the impact of your printing investment, you should understand these needs, the difference between the most common printer types and how they can affect your business operations.
There are essentially two main types of business A4 printers: multifunctional (also known as all-in-one or 4-in-one) and specialised, single-function printers. If there is space in your office for a large printer and you have a diverse set of printing needs then a multifunction printer is the solution for you. Multifunction printers can handle a series of tasks in addition to printing, such as copying, scanning, faxing, and e-mailing.
If however, if space is in limited supply and you only have a couple of specific printing needs then investing in several specialised, single-function A4 printers will be an ideal solution for you. There are specialised printers that have specific functions, such as printing detailed A4 photographs, high quality A4 colour documents or A4 monochrome documents. Single-function printers are generally chosen for their printout quality, speed, and, relative cost.
Aside from its functionality, a business printer will likely fall under one of two categories of printers that are employed by businesses throughout the UK: inkjet printers and laser printers. The difference between these two printer classes is essentially the technologies they employ. Inkjet printers spray droplets of ink from a printer head onto a printing surface to incrementally form an image. Laser printers charge a print roller with a high powered laser that heats and attracts printer toner particles before pressing them onto a print surface.
The essential difference between A4 inkjet and A4 laser printers is the purpose, quality, speed and cost. Inkjet printers are usually chosen for their ability to print high quality colour images and their low initial cost. However, they tend to be slow and have higher operational costs than their laser counterparts.
Laser printers are fast, have low running costs, and are excellent at printing high volumes of text based documentation. They are, however, expensive and usually print adequate results when compared to the quality produced by inkjet printers. This high initial cost is eventually overcome by low long term costs as laser printers have a high toner yield.
Finally, there are several added features to consider when investing in an A4 office printer. While they might not be critical for the printer to function, they may be able to support the usability, efficiency and the overall quality of your printer and the documentation it produces:
- Do you need wireless connectivity? Printer connectivity differs from model to model as well as when they are introduced to the market. The newest A4 printers can almost always connect wirelessly through a local network or a mobile device, while older models may have more limited connectivity options.
- Do you need to print monochrome or colour documents or both? Businesses with a wide set of printing needs will likely require a printer that can print in both monochrome and colour, while a business that only needs to print black and white text based documents will find that a monochrome A4 printer suits their needs just fine.
- Does your A4 printer need to be portable? Portable A4 printers can be ideal for businesses that operate pop-up shops, or regularly attend trade shows and conferences. Portability can allow you to print high quality invoices, promotional materials, and contracts while out of the office.
- Will you need automatic duplex printing? Automatic duplex printing allow you to quickly and easily print on both sides of an A4 piece of paper, resulting in reduced paper related costs and less environmental waste.
- What kind of capacity do you expect from the paper tray? A4 printers have a paper tray that can hold up to several thousand sheets of paper while some printers even have a multi-purpose tray that can feed different types of A4 paper without having to open the tray.
The Different Types of A4 Paper
Communicating your ideas, solutions, and reports should always be done in a professional manner. One way to ensure that your printing results reflect positively on your company’s brand is to use high quality printing paper that produces the strongest impression and highlights the value of what you want to convey.
Even the best printers will only print adequate results on cheap printing paper. Businesses that are looking to impress clients and maximise the impact of their brand when sharing documents should spend time considering which paper they use to print. Moreover, cheaper paper will have a higher likelihood of causing paper jams, which can damage printers.
There are a wide array of A4 paper types and each have a multitude of properties that can impact the quality of a printed document. Paper qualities will differ in terms of their:
- Brightness is the amount of light that a sheet reflects off of its surface. This is important to consider when printing colour images as a brighter surface will mean a higher contrast. On the other hand, the lower the brightness of a sheet of paper, the easier it will be to read the text that is printed on its surface.
- Caliper (thickness) is a delicate balance where a lower thickness will mean flimsy paper that is almost transparent and creases during the printing process. Paper that is too thick may cause paper jams due to their stiffness and paper quality may be degraded.
- Grade typically defines the purpose that the paper should serve, e.g. bond, writing, text, book, offset, index, label, etc.
- Smoothness of a paper’s surface affects the quality as the rougher the paper, the more pores that need to be filled by the ink. Use smoother paper for the best image quality.
There are paper stocks and types that are specific for printing photographs, promotional materials, legal documents and financial reports, etc. Some of the most common A4 paper types that is used by businesses in the UK include:
- Coloured paper is useful for printing promotional materials that need to capture the attention of the user.
- Coated paper is covered in a surface that is intended to improve the visual appearance of the printed result while improving its longevity by protecting it from moisture and UV rays. Typical A4 paper coats include silk, matte, glossy, matte, and dull.
- Hole-punched paper has already cut holes on one edge of the paper, making it ready to be inserted into folders and archives.The risk of using hole-punched paper is that it has a higher risk of jamming during the printer process.
- Recycled paper is ideal for companies that are looking to reduce their environmental impact. Recycled paper is made using fibres that are recycled from industrial processes or consumer waste.
The best A4 paper for your printer can be acquired directly from the supplier of your printer as they will be familiar with which paper is best suited for your printer and printing needs. Getting the most out of your printer goes beyond choosing the best printer. Choosing the right paper can make a significant impact on the reception that your documentation receives.
The Best A4 Printer Brands
Sometimes the preference of printer may come down to a particular brand. While there are several brands that produce a series of products that are inherently similar, each brand may differ slightly in how they produce their products and the service they provide. There are a variety of staple printer brands that thousands of UK businesses trust with their documentation solutions. The top five printer brands in the UK include:
- Brother is a company that has been “changing the way people work for many years”. Founded in 1908, this company offers unique and innovative solutions for businesses and their printing needs.
- Canon is better known for their consumer cameras but their laser technologies are an integral part of 80% of the world’s laser printers. Starting in 1937, Canon has long been a provider of components and technologies for laser printers and has only recently launched its own dedicated line of high quality laser beam printers.
- Ricoh, founded in 1936, is electronics manufacturer that specialise in the production of business printers. Their printers are renowned for being economical and productive.
- Sharp is a producer of consumer and commercial electronics. Started in 1912, Sharp produces a series of office printers that serve to provide improved productivity and performance.
- Toshiba was founded in 1939 and today they supply businesses with a line of reliable and efficient office printers.
A4 Printer Costs
Most businesses need to buy a printer for their office, enabling them to handle a variety of documentation needs and communicate their ideas. Faced with choosing between a variety of printers and printer suppliers, companies will typically choose a multi or single-function printer that employs either inkjet or laser technologies.
There are various costs that businesses will face when investing in a printer: the initial investment, the total acquisition cost (which includes researching, delivery, and the installation of the printer), and the operational costs (maintenance, paper, and the toner or ink).
Inkjet printers will typically have a lower initial cost while having higher long term running costs: the ink used in inkjet printers is expensive and they are more susceptible to breaking than laser printers. The most economical long term printing solution is typically an A4 laser printer. This is due to the fact that they are the most cost effective printers in the long term, due to having a higher toner yield and a lower risk of malfunction, when compared to their inkjet counterparts. However, laser printers cannot print images in as good a quality as inkjet printers.
Companies that are unsure about their printing needs and are looking to test a printer, should consider the leasing and renting options that are provided by most business printer suppliers. Leasing or renting an A4 printer will provide certain benefits, such as: trying a printer without having to worry about the opportunity cost, fully integrated servicing and a low cost of upgrading to a newer model. However, leasing or renting solutions may end up being more expensive in the long term and companies that know what they need should invest in their own A4 printer.
Alternative Printing Solutions
Having a clear understanding of your needs is paramount in ensuring that you get the most out of your printing investment. While an A4 printer is ideal for the majority of organisations, there are entities that will inevitably have additional printing needs that cannot be met by an A4 printer.
Businesses that need to print large blueprints, promotional booklets, or large photographs should invest in a specialised A3 printer. Businesses looking to print banners, wallpaper, and trade show graphics should instead consider a wide-format printer. Organisations that need to print labels, packaging, and functional electronics should look at industrial printers.
Which Is the Best A4 Printer for Your Organisation?
The best printer for your organisation is ultimately the printer that can best match your operational and financial needs while reliably producing high quality results. Whether you need an inkjet, laser, single, or multi-function A4 printer, there are suppliers that can provide you with exactly what you need.
Maintaining a high level of printing quality and reliability can be best achieved through proactively maintenance and proper usage. When investing in a new office printer, inquire about the possible servicing programmes and your supplier will assist you with finding a servicing option that works with your time frame and budget.
Complete the quote request form today and we will connect you with qualified suppliers of A4 office printers. Requesting a quote is free and our experienced customer service agents can assist you with finding the best solution that works for your business.