The lowdown on network printers

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What is it? You can't make a network printer out of an inexpensive desktop unit simply by adding a network interface card. A true network printer has a built-in network card, offers multiple interface options, has numerous paper management options, and employs a print engine and processor powerful and fast enough to handle virtually every job that comes its way.

Should I choose a monochrome or color laser? If you want raw power and speed for printing mainly text pages, consider a monochrome printer and add spot color as needed with an inexpensive ink-jet or laser color unit. If color graphics and photos represent key ingredients of your document presentations, buy a color laser.

What are the other important considerations? Extra input trays, stapling, hole punching and other finishing features, automatic duplexing, multiple interfaces, the ability to print, copy, scan and fax, and excellent setup and management software can make a workhorse out of almost any network printer.

Must-know info? There is a trend toward full-featured document management systems that can handle just about any print task. Multifunction printers with strong copy scan and faxing features, along with good option packages, are part of this trend. The fast network laser printers we are seeing today will likely be MFP devices in the future.

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