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A Buyer’s Guide to Printer Types

Printer Guide

A Buyer’s Guide to Printer Types

Everything you need to know to make the right printer purchase for your office.

Even in today’s modern, remote, and digital workplaces, printing is a fact of life. Studies show the typical American office worker will print around 10,000 pages of paper per year. This means that no matter your office size, you will probably need at least one printer.

Buying a printer can be complicated, though. There are a lot of printer types to choose from. Do you need a color or a black and white printer? Full size or compact? Wired or wireless? Single-function or all in one? And what about duplex printing?

Here are the most common types of printers and their use cases to help you decide on the best printer for your office.


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Compact Printers


The small frames of compact printers hide a surprising multitude of features and capabilities. Their reduced footprint means they can fit into virtually any working scenario, whether they’re serving a single person or an entire team.

    Benefits of a compact printer

  • They are versatile.
  • They take up less space than bulky professional equipment.
  • Some can even scan and copy, replicating the functions of enterprise-grade equipment without the bulk.

Compact printer features to consider


Most offices will use some sort of internet connection to connect to their printer. Look for ethernet or Wi-Fi functionality. Ethernet will allow for faster printing, but Wi-Fi will let you print from anywhere without costly and cumbersome wires.


Printing speed

Printing speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm). If you’re having trouble deciding between printers and speed is key, let ppm be your guide. If not, spending a fortune for higher ppm doesn’t always make sense.

Ease of use

Features like easy setup, a bright, clear display, and easy-to-replace toner or ink cartridges can make the difference between a printer that is a breeze to use and one that will frustrate your office mates and slow productivity.

Read more about compact printers in “How to Choose the Right Compact Printer for Your Office.”

Did You Know?  The RICOH C125 P color laser printer offers business-quality color duplex printing with USB, Wi-Fi, and ethernet connectivity. Click here to learn more. 

Wireless Printers

A wireless printer is a great addition to any workspace. Without the need for costly network infrastructure, a wireless printer can be added to any office set-up and provide printing services for multiple workstations or users.

    Benefits of wireless printers

  • Easy to set up.
  • Easy to connect.
  • No dedicated computer required.

Multiple printing options

Print from multiple devices

A wired printer might not always be capable of printing from multiple devices simultaneously. A wireless printer allows you to print whether you’re on your laptop or a mobile device.

Print from anywhere

With a wireless printer, you can print from almost anywhere. In a meeting room or a break room? No problem. Simply print your document, and pick it up at the printer when you’re ready.

Print from mobile devices

Printing from mobile devices is simple with some printers. The RICOH C125 P color laser printer can easily print using AirPrint® or Mopria® if your device is on the same Wi-Fi network as your printer.

Read more about wireless printers in “9 Things to Know About Wireless Printers Before You Buy.”

All in One Printers

All in one printers are capable of functions beyond printing. They typically also copy and scan documents and images. Some models even have fax capabilities. You may hear them referred to by several different names, such as multifunction printers, 3 in 1 printers, or 4 in 1 printers.

    Benefits of all in one printers

  • One device that performs several functions takes up less space than separate devices that each perform one function.
  • A single device will use less energy than three dedicated devices.
  • Even if you only plan to use one feature of an all in one printer, having access to its other features can help you streamline workflows.

All in one printer considerations


If you’re only buying a single printer for the office, a multifunction printer is generally a complete solution. If you have the space and budget for several devices, however, you can optimize productivity and reduce costs by having the right ratio of single-function to all in one printers.


Offices with heavy scanning needs — such as those undergoing digital transformation — could also benefit from having a dedicated scanner. In that case, a combination of dedicated printers, all-in-one printers, and scanners can help ensure the work gets done without bottlenecks.


Your customers won’t know if you have what they need unless you tell them. Digital advertising enables you to directly inform consumers. And personalized marketing allows you to speak directly to their needs.

Color Laser Printers

Black and white printing is good for bills, invoices, documents, and reports, but for vivid brochures, posters, or presentations, a color printer is a must. The good news is color laser printers have become more affordable over the years, making a compact and efficient color laser printer possible for many offices.

    Features to look for

  • For most business use cases, a DPI between 300 and 600 should serve.
  • Wireless printers allow you to print from anywhere in your office without having to run costly wires.
  • A best-in-class color laser printer will include simple, clear, and intuitive controls. These ensure your workers don’t waste time poring over a user manual or calling support.

Why buy a color laser printer?

They’re fast

A color laser printer is typically faster than a comparable inkjet printer. This makes it possible to overcome potential logjams that could reduce productivity and help you meet tight deadlines even after last-minute changes.

They don’t smudge

In spite of printing fast, color laser printers tend not to smudge. This is because the toner used for laser printing, bonds to paper before it has a chance to smudge, resulting in sharp, clean, smudge-free images that project professionalism.

They’re cheaper to operate

In spite of a typically higher up-front cost, laser printers can cost less to operate over time. They have a lower cost per page and toner cartridges don’t dry out if left unused, saving you money in the long run.

Read more about color laser printers in "6 Things to Look for in a Color Laser Printer."

Did You Know?  The RICOH C125 P color laser printer allows for 2-sided printing without manual intervention, making double-sided color printing fast and easy. Click here to learn more. 

Black and White Printers

Black and white printers may not be as versatile as color printers, but for many offices, they make the most sense. If you mainly print monochrome documents or reports, a black and white printer will suit your needs while saving you money and operating costs over a color printer.

    Laser vs. inkjet

  • If your office prints a lot, an inkjet printer probably isn’t for you.
  • Inkjet printers are slow, printing around 10 pages per minute (ppm) on average. Most laser printers are at least twice as fast, printing at 20 ppm or more.
  • Inkjet printers use more ink. A laser printer cartridge can last from 2,000-3,000 pages, up to ten times more pages than many inkjet cartridges.

How to choose a black and white printer

Start with lasers

Inkjet printers might be fine for home use, but their slow printing speeds and high ink costs make them unsuitable for most professional workplaces.

Look at speed

According to tech review site RTings, a good printer should print at least 20 pages per minute. For quick reference, that means printing 100 pages would take five minutes; printing 500 pages would take 25 minutes; printing 1,000 pages would take 50 minutes.

Go wireless

Modern wireless printers are easy to set up and easy to use, allowing you to print from anywhere in the office, including from mobile devices.

Read more about black and white printers in "How to Choose the Best Black and White Printer."

Duplex Printers

A regular printer will only print on one side of a piece of paper. Duplex printers print on both sides. This means you can print double-sided documents, saving money and time while reducing waste and consuming less energy.

    Advantages of duplex printing

  • Double-sided documents take up less storage space.
  • A binder or report with double-sided pages will be easier to carry.
  • You can fit more information on a double-sided document.

Duplex printer features to consider


Professional-grade printers can be large and take up a lot of space. Smaller businesses may not have the space to spare. A compact printer can often serve the same function with a reduced footprint.

Black and white vs. color

If you print color documents or brochures, you likely need a color printer. But if you tend to print monochrome pages, you can save money and operating costs with a black and white printer.

Single-function vs. multifunction

If you only occasionally need a scanner or copier, a multifunction printer may be ideal. MFPs combine printing, scanning, and copying, saving money, space, and operating costs over three separate devices.

Read more about duplex printers in "Duplex Printers: What to Know Before You Buy."

Shop Printers Now

Ricoh Printers--built on a legacy of quality and dependability.

Shop Now

Shop Ricoh Printers

If you’re in the market for a printer, you have no shortage of options. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing, and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our professional-grade line of printers.

Offering powerful printing in a compact size, Ricoh printers are built with the highest quality materials and can fit seamlessly into any office space. And with flexible connectivity options, you can connect your new printer to your business network wired or wirelessly.

Our printers are easy to set up, easy to operate, and can offer printing speeds as high as 34 ppm, maximizing your efficiency and enhancing your productivity. Whether you are looking for black and white or color or want a single-function or multifunction printer, Ricoh has a model that will suit your needs. Click here to shop our selection of printers.



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