Saturday, October 25, 2008

MFP Wars "Sharp Rolls out new Color A4 devices"

“I expect the Frontier Series (MX-C311 and MX-C401) to eventually change the way we view MFPs entirely, said Ed McLaughlin, President, Sharp.

What an impressive statement from Ed McLaughlin, and I agree! Sharp is the world’s first true copier manufacturer to take a bold step into the future and go where no copier manufacturer has gone before (had to put that in there). There are other A4 devices on the market today, however these models are OEM’d by printer manufacturers (thus being printer centric) such as HP and Samsung. Xerox, and Muratec resell the Samsung devices, while HP markets their own device.

I am dumbfounded that the giants of the industry such as Xerox, Ricoh and Canon have sat on their hands and have not developed their own A4 device. Canon, Ricoh and Xerox have some A4 devices but they are primarily a printer with a scanner attached, thus you have the high cost per page associated with printers, slow first copy times, no finishing, and limited features that are essential for the day to day work flows of the general office.

Things I like about these units:

Optional Business Card Feeder
Speed 31 and 41 pages per minute in monochrome and color
Optional Internal Finisher can hold up to 280 pages and staple up to 30 pages
Direct USB Scanning and Printing
80 GB Hard Drive
500 Sheet Paper Drawers
Account Control up to 1,000 users
Color Scanning in TIFF, PDF, Encrypted PDF and XPS
In Bound Fax Routing
Automatically Staple Incoming Faxes
Large 8.5 inch Wide Screen Color Touch Display
38GB of the Hard Drive used for Document Storage with thumbnail previews and image view modes
User Authentication for Network Scanning

Things I Don’t Like:

Maximum Paper weight through Paper drawers is 28lbs
Max Paper weight through the by-pass is 110lb index
Slow First Copy Time for Color 11.5 seconds based on document feeder
Slow First Copy Time for Black 8.9 seconds based on document feeder
This unit only weighs 107lbs (a lot of plastic?)
19 different types of supplies

What I would like to have seen:

11x17 platen glass for scanning
Larger Capacity Document Feeder
Faster Warm Up
Heavier Paper Stock Capability

There’s a lot more that I like compared to what I don’t like here. However, I am concerned about the weight of the unit. 107 lbs seems very light. I guess time will tell. Another point and I think this will be a big drawback on the system; the system has 19 different supply items. I can tell you from first hand experience that the end users have a problem with stocking or buying all of these units if they are not on a cost per page. Heck, I don’t now the supply pricing yet, but having to have stock on all of these kits, toner, developer, drums, fuser, transfer belt primary, transfer belt secondary, DF roller, etc could cost the end user a few thousand dollars to keep them in stock. Keep in mind that these units can be replaced by the end user (so the brochure leads me to believe).

At this time I also have no clue as to the MSRP of each unit. What I can tell other dealers and sales people is that if you don’t have an A4 device to compete with this unit, YOU WILL LOSE BUSINESS, from existing accounts and potential new accounts. If you don’t think these machines and the others they are developing won’t get on State Contracts ASAP, you will lose business.

All in all I think the Frontier line will be a winner for Sharp. I think this will vault Sharp back to a top tier player in the industry. I also hope that my dealership calls Sharp and takes on this line ASAP!

-=Good Selling=-

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