Way back when, I ran the copying operations of a 16-attorney office. The hourly paper jams and other breakdowns of the firm's copy machine frequently overwhelmed my limited mechanical aptitude, and I was on a first-name basis with the repairman they called in whenever my hand got stuck inside the machine along with the paper.
Unsuspecting partners would come to the copy room in the midst of these seizures, wanting only to make a quick copy or two of a single page, but ended up trudging back to their office with their need for duplication unfulfilled. I think the copy room also housed a crude dot matrix printer whose output was not much more reliable.
Simply put, scanning technology didn't exist. Now, of course, attorneys do not need to leave their office or tax support staff for small document production jobs, since inexpensive "all-in-one" printer-copier-scanners can be placed on every attorney's desktop. As of 2012 there are plenty of models available for under $200.
Let's take a look at what you can expect in that price range.
- Canon: The estimated retail price of the Canon imageCLASS D420 is $199. The printer is monochrome laser, capable of printing 23 pages per minute in black and white at letter size. This machine will do two-sided copying and printing, and delivers the first print or copy in approximately nine seconds. It's got a 250-sheet front-loading paper cassette plus a single-sheet multipurpose tray for printing those legal-sized documents. You won't be able to copy or scan a legal-sized document though.
- Hewlett-Packard: The HP Officejet Pro 8600, listing at $199.99, has an inkjet printer. The cost per page can be cheaper than using a laser printer, especially if you're doing color printing. The speed is 18 pages per minute for black-and-white print and 32 copies per minute. It does duplex printing from a 250-page tray. This model can fax, outgoing at four seconds per page and incoming up to 100 pages. The flatbed can accommodate legal-sized copying and scanning.
- Epson: Also listing for $199.99 is the Epson WorkForce 845. This machine is also inkjet, with a print speed of 15 pages per minute black and white. It makes 13 copies per minute and can send faxes at 3 seconds per page. The automated document feeder can handle 30 sheets, and it does two-sided automatically. The dual 250-sheet paper trays are a nice feature. Epson includes a one-year limited warranty and phone support, without charge, for the life of the product.
- Lexmark: The Prevail Pro705 is another all-in-one inkjet (with fax) listing at $199, although you can find it for substantially cheaper. The black-and-white print speed is 10 pages per minute, but if you set it at low-quality "draft" mode, it will crank out the pages at 33 per minute. This machine includes wireless connectivity, an autodocument feeder and duplexer, and speed text out. Qualms about the quality? It comes with a five-year warranty. Just remember to send in the registration to get those last four years.
As with all printers, copiers, and scanners, take into account how much you're going to be using your machine. If your law office is small enough, an all-in-one may suffice as the primary shared device, with larger print and copying jobs being outsourced. It's hard to go wrong with an all-in-one at this sub-$200 price point, but get a handle on how much the ink replacement is going to cost you. That's where the real cost comes in.
Technology changes quickly. For a more up to date discussion on this topic, please visit the Legal Hardware section at FindLaw’s Technologist blog.