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Tuesday, 24 May 2011 08:00
There was a time, say fifteen, twenty years ago when a new photocopier would have been inconceivable for many small businesses and organisations – high up-front costs made them a prohibitive expense and large numbers of businesses had to forego the many benefits which owning their own new photocopier could provide. With stricter, often quite draconian restrictions around photocopier leasing and many more less straightforward, sometimes downright unscrupulous leasing deals, renting a photocopier was also much more of a minefield than it is today. But how times have changed. Today’s new photocopiers not only do so much more than their counterparts fifteen, twenty or so years ago but they are also now considerably cheaper too. As technologies have advanced and the market has become far more competitive, there has been significant downward pressure on new photocopier prices. The result is that now, used photocopiers or refurbished photocopiers compare much less favourably with new devices than at any time in the photocopiers history. Used photocopiers are now often only marginally cheaper than equivalent new devices and the new devices can usually offer a little more by way of performance, whether that’s energy efficiency, functionality or print quality. Which begs the question, why is anyone still buying used photocopiers? Here, we examine how the market has changed in the last few years and why buying new over used photocopiers will usually mean organisations get better value for money.
New and Used Photocopiers: Increasing Price Convergence
It was once the case that used photocopiers were a major part of any supplier’s business. When photocopiers were returned from a lease, they would be reconditioned or refurbished and put out on sale again, usually at a significant reduction from the original retail price. For many smaller or start-up organisations, used photocopiers represented an excellent opportunity to take advantage of technology at a fraction of the original cost. Especially for those moving from environments without photocopiers, a used photocopier could achieve a dramatic step-change in office productivity, even if it couldn’t always offer the very latest level of technology.
But over the years, more and more manufacturers as well as suppliers have entered into the photocopiers marketplace. While for many of the early years of photocopying the photocopiers industry was really a two horse race between the two largest manufacturers, Xerox and Canon, since then a whole host of competitors have gotten in on the game – Oki, Ricoh, Fujitsu, Konica Minolta to name but a few. This greater competition, combined with lower costs of production has meant the costs of new devices in real terms have been decreasing, almost year on year. As a result, it has now become much less cost-effective for major suppliers to recondition or refurbish copiers to sell-on. The big returns of years gone by simply aren’t there and the costs involved, place used photocopiers at a similar price-point to new devices. The result is that used photocopiers at good prices and in top condition are increasingly a rarity.
New Vs Used Photocopiers: The Technology
Photocopiers technology has advanced so much over the years that ‘photocopier’ is no longer really the appropriate term to describe everything that the modern devices are capable of. The incredible level of functionality which is now featured as standard on many photocopiers – scanning, faxing, network printing, a large range of finishing options and mailbox functionality – explain why many manufacturers now refer to their devices as multifunction printers (MFP’s) rather than photocopiers. And it’s not just functionality which has improved. The quality of office photocopiers today is also far higher, so that some high-end photocopiers can now print to a standard almost comparable with lithographic printing. Technology has also meant a steady decrease in photocopier energy consumption. Now more than ever, businesses are mindful of their costs and their environmental impact, so photocopiers manufacturers have responded by making devices much more energy efficient, automatically switching into low-energy sleep mode when they’re not in use and powering-down after protracted periods of inactivity. The net effect is that typical imageRUNNER Advance Canon photocopiers for instance consume around 65% less energy than the equivalent devices ten years ago.
While used photocopiers bought today are only likely to be two or three years old and the differences in functionality and technology aren’t necessarily going to be that dramatic, it only takes a glance at some of the most recent features to be added to the latest Canon photocopiers to realise that buying new will usually place users at a distinct advantage. For example, the imageRUNNER Advance C2000 Canon photocopiers series which was released by the company last year has just been provided with a new feature, CloudConnect, which allows users to scan documents to and print documents from leading cloud-based services such as Google Docs or Microsoft Sharepoint. The technology paves the way for truly global document workflows.
New Vs Used Photocopiers: Security and Longevity
In the last few years there have been a number of security scares around photocopiers and the data that is stored on their hard drives. Since around 2000 almost all photocopiers have been fitted with hard drives, so that documents can be recovered and re-used after they’re first copied. But this has meant that photocopiers with hard drives but without the necessary security features or without the relevant security features enabled, have often left user’s data vulnerable to compromise. In the US, CBS News uncovered that many photocopier warehouses were selling used photocopiers whose hard drives contained sensitive information from previous users, placing both the new owners and former users in a very precarious position. Buying a used photocopier which has not had previous data permanently deleted and is not equipped with the right hardware or software to store data securely in the future, places organisations in a very difficult position, both with regard to previous data stored on the photocopier and any data that continues to be stored on it. The latest new devices come equipped with a full range of security options to ensure data remains secure and can be fully and permanently deleted when an authorised administrator so chooses. Data encryption technology can also protect any data on a device from getting into the wrong hands.
As noted, the downward pressure on new photocopier prices has resulted in a growing convergence between the prices of new and used photocopiers, to the extent that is now often much less cost-effective for some second-hand photocopier suppliers to fully refurbish or used photocopiers. For those buying used photocopiers at highly discounted prices, this can potentially increase the risk factor associated with a second-hand purchase. Bearing in mind the longevity of a second-hand photocopier is limited even when it has been properly reconditioned, if there’s a chance a used device hasn’t had the full treatment, the dangers are obviously that much greater.
While some buyers may be able to pick-up a genuinely good deal on second-hand/used photocopiers, as a rule, the price differences between used and new photocopiers are now far smaller than they used to be – the latest small workgroup imageRUNNER Advance Canon photocopiers for instance come it at just over £2000, which is only a hundred or so pounds more than the refurbished equivalent. When users factor in the advantages that a new device offers in terms of technology (and that’s also cost-effectiveness), security and longevity, now more than ever, new photocopiers and not used photocopiers tend to represent the best value for money.
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