Sunday, January 20, 2008

"MFP Wars" Hi Speed A3 Devices vs A4 Devices

In the MFP (copier) business A3 devices are capable of reproducing Ledger Size documents (11x17) and A4 devices are confined to reproducing Letter and Legal Size documents.

In recent years HP led the charge with A4 devices with the HP4345 45 ppm), complete with duplexing, stapling, fax, print, scan and stapling. Hp is using an AIO (All In One Cartridge) that combines toner, drum, cleaning blade, toner waste, magnetic roller and cleaning blade. Samsung during the last year launched the 6345N(45 ppm), another A4 device that also has all of the features of the HP4345 plus a few more. The Samsung 6345N uses a separate drum cartridge and a toner unit (houses magnetic roller, toner and hopper). Six months ago Xerox launched the Work Centre 4150 (Xerox claims a monthly up to 200,000 pages a month), the Xerox 4150 is OEM'd by Samsung and is almost identical to the Samsung 6345N. Just three months ago Muratec launched their version the MFX 4550 (also the Samsung 6345N). Toshiba has recognized the need for hi-speed A4 devices also, and I expect them to launch a similar product in 2008. Samsung already has plans for a 55ppm A4 device to launch in 2008!

So whats the big deal with these devices? Industry reports indicate that upwards of 90% of users do need need to print A3 (Ledger), plus these devices can support average monthly volumes of up to 10,000 pages a month or more! Typically all of these devices have a higher per page cost that traditional A3 devices, the cost per page can be almost be half the cost of A4 devices.

Back in the 80's when Minolta launched the 350Z, it was a unique system in that it could scan 11x17, but could only copy letter and legal. The selling advantage was that you could reduce your 11x17 documents down to a more manageable paper size. Why can't this be done today? When are manufacturers stepping up to the plate and delivering real savings to customers. How about designing an A4 system that has a per page cost that is equivalent to A3 devices., and also giving customers that ability to scan 11x17 if needed.

It seems like Samsung and HP are driving A4 devices, while the likes of Xerox and Muratec are relabeling. Can or will Ricoh, Canon, Toshiba, KonicaMinolta or Kyocera design an A4 device for the ages that will copy, print, scan and fax with the traditional cost of A3 devices.

Love to hear from others on this.

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