Last Updated: February 09, 2023

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In the scheme of things, the color copier is a relatively new invention. Colored toner was invented in the 1950s, but color copiers weren’t commercially available until 1968, when 3M unveiled the famous Color-in-Color copier.

The technology has vastly improved over the years, so much so that modern copiers have very little in common with their early predecessors.

About Color Copiers

All modern color copiers are digital, as opposed to analog, and they serve as far more than just copiers. They are often called multifunction printers (MFPs) because they’re capable of a variety of tasks, including digital printing, scanning, faxing and emailing.

Today’s color MFPs have features such as double-sided printing, sorting and stapling. They can be used to scan and email documents to coworkers or clients, print directly from a USB memory device or send a fax from your computer. The latest models feature high-resolution touch screens, color displays, full-size retractable keyboards and remote front panels.

Color copiers are available in a variety of prints speeds, ranging from about 20 pages per minute (ppm) to more than 70 ppm. Smaller varieties with lower print speeds are designed to sit on a desktop; larger and faster machines are standalone models.

Most businesses opt for color copiers that are capable of switching back and forth between black-and-white and color printing. These hybrid models offer access to color copies when necessary and the option to save money by printing in black and white.

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Color Copier Prices

Not surprisingly, color copiers are more expensive than black-and-white models. However, the price has decreased as the technology has improved.

The price of all copiers is most heavily impacted by the printing speed, but you expect to pay about 20 percent to 30 percent more for a color copier than a black-and-white copier with approximately the same printing speed.

For example, a black-and-white, mid-volume MFP with advanced features and a print speed of 21 to 35 ppm might cost $12,000 to $15,000. A color copier with the exact same features and specifications would likely cost $20,000.

Buying vs. Leasing a Color Copier

You don’t have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to buy a color copier outright; there’s always the option to lease one. Leasing is less expensive upfront because little or no downpayment is required. Instead, you make monthly payments over a period of years (usually three to five). When the lease is up, you can return the machine, buy it or trade it in for a newer model. However, the downside to leasing is that it will cost you more in the long run.

Choosing a Dealer

Choosing a reputable, experienced dealer is extremely important. In many cases, the dealer that sells or leases the copier also handles the service contract. You won’t just deal with these people once - you’ll deal with them every time your copier needs service or repair.

Request quotes from multiple dealers in your area to compare prices. But never choose on price alone. You’ll also want to check references and the company’s rating with consumer organizations like the Better Business Bureau. Find out how long the company has been in business, too.

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Some important ones include:

  • How many local technicians do you have that are able to work on my model?
  • What is your average response time for service requests?
  • How much do you charge for service calls?
  • Do you offer in-house training on how to use the copier? If so, how much does it cost?

Keep in mind that while most dealers offer service contracts, you don’t always have to buy the service contract from the dealer that sells or leases you the copier. Shop the service contract around to third parties to see if you can find a better deal.

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