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The Competition

Here’s a quick overview of the top names on the market and where they tend to focus their research and development dollars.

Konica Minolta – Known for producing cost-effective machines that cater to budgetary concerns, Konica Minolta offers a full range of digital copiers, from small multifunction office systems to large print-production models. Notable for their fast print speeds, high-end models are capable of outputs of up to 105 ppm, with most midrange models offering 30 to 60 ppm. Image quality is excellent, but resolutions tend to be less than those of competing models within some price ranges. Certain production models are only capable of a 1,200 x 1,200 dpi resolution.

Ricoh America Corporation – In business since 1936, Ricoh offers an extensive line of high-end production models. This company has established a reputation among consumers and businesses alike for consistently providing trustworthy products that perform reliably with minimal downtime. Ricoh machines are also reportedly simple to use, with networking capability that’s easy to set up and few maintenance requirements. The company has also been recognized for the quality of its customer support.

Canon – Renowned for the compact size of some of its machines, Canon’s models often represent a solid choice for small businesses or those with floor plans offering minimal space. The company’s touch-screen user interface is also widely popular among users for the simplicity of the menu and graphical interface. In addition, Canon boasts one of the most trusted reputations among those who lease equipment. The perceived fairness of Canon’s lease agreements largely results from the option that has no monthly minimum.

Sharp – Sharp manufactures MFPs that are designed to simplify all aspects of setup and to facilitate operation, control, job monitoring and management, and copier maintenance. With an intuitive interface and easy, direct access to consumables, these copiers have been shown to increase workflow efficiency through a 10-inch touch-screen panel that allows a user to edit documents and rearrange files simply with the drag of a finger. Interestingly, Sharp makes a concerted marketing effort toward government agencies, educational institutions, health care facilities and a number of specialized commercial markets.

Toshiba – Known throughout the world for its reliable brand of office products, Toshiba’s copiers enjoy a similar reputation, especially among those within small to medium-size workgroups. In particular, they’re recognized for the ease of use they provide overall and the simplicity involved in their menu navigation. Toshiba is also ranked high among environmentally conscious consumers for the number of energy efficiency models it produces, saving on long-term operational costs while minimizing the machines’ environmental footprint.

Xerox – Recognized for the superior quality of their paper handling, Xerox digital copiers are also popular for the durability of their individual components, including the document feeder and output tray. Easily adapted to a wide range of office applications, Xerox machines are upgradable to incorporate some of the more advanced finishing accessories.

Savin – Savin copiers are just Ricoh machines with a different name. But that doesn’t make them any less impressive. Ricoh bought the Savin brand name in 1995 and has since focused the brand’s development on machines that specialize in Energy Star compliance. In fact, Savin’s digital-imaging product line offers six different Energy Star-certified monochrome copiers. Plus, users report favorable experiences with the innovation and service Savin products and support personnel provide.

Lanier – Responsible for one of the most comprehensive selections on the market, Lanier produces more than 90 unique digital copiers. Offering a combination of performance and budget that tick upwards in tiny increments, Lanier machines differ from one another in small but important ways. For example, the difference in print speed between two different color models is 20 and 21 ppm. Some of the company’s smaller, midrange models also include a document feeder with a max capacity of 100 sheets, offering almost 100 percent more room than competing models that cap out at around 35 to 50 sheets.