• Four Important Questions for your Service Provider

    You’ve done your research, and know what you want out of a copier or printer. Your needs assessment is complete, you’ve taken into consideration things like your network, expendables, and user requirements. Now it’s time to decide where to get that new piece of office equipment.

    Lots of places can sell you a new Kyocera or Canon MFP. But what about service and support? Here is a list of questions you should ask:

    What kind of training do the techs receive?

    At Ameritel, our service technicians are factory trained. As an authorized Canon and Kyocera reseller, our techs have access to genuine parts and supplies. Our technicians spend weeks each year in training, usually directly from the manufacturer. Both our Rockville and Frederick facilities have achieved ATSP (Association of Technical Service Professionals) certification from Canon, and Ameritel recently was awarded quality service distinction from Kyocera.

    2 . Are your technicians company employees or freelancers?

    At Ameritel, our technicians are all full-time, salaried employees. They don’t receive commissions for parts, so they have no incentive to sell you stuff you don’t need. On average, Ameritel technicians have over fifteen years experience, and more than one has over thirty years of hands-on experience.

    3. Does your service department keep spares on hand , or do they have to order everything?

    Ameritel’s technicians travel with a vast majority of the parts needed for maintenance and repair. In addition to our two offices in Rockville and Frederick, we have parts depots scattered throughout the Washington DC metro area, where our technicians can quickly pick up a part while on remote service call.

    4. Do you offer phone support?

    In addition to our field technicians, Ameritel has full-time support professionals in our Rockville and Frederick offices. We can quickly diagnose issues over the phone, and are adept at helping customers resolve minor issues themselves.

    Conclusion : At Ameritel, we long ago dedicated our corporate culture to achieving an unparalleled level of customer service. So we’re happy to answer those four questions — or any others you might have when you’re ready to buy or lease a new copier or printer.

  • InkJet or Laser?

    We get asked all the time, “Paper or plastic?

    Wait, no — wrong blog.

    “Which is better, a laser printer or an ink jet printer?”

    The answer is: Yes.

    Both technologies have advantages and disadvantages, so it all depends on what you want to print. And more importantly, what you print the most.

    First, let’s review the technologies:

    Inkjet printers create images by pressurizing a tiny bit of liquid ink, causing a pressure bubble to form (which is why early inkjet printers were called “Bubble Jet” by Canon). This microscopic bit of ink is directed through a precision head, and the tiny, fine droplets are sprayed onto the paper.

    A laser printe r doesn’t write directly to the paper. Instead, the image is projected, by a laser, onto a metal drum, which is electrostatically charged. The drum is then exposed to powdered toner, which only “sticks” to the parts of the drum that have been exposed to the laser. The drum is heated up, and the image is formed by pressing the drum against the paper.

    Inkjet printers exist on every end of the spectrum, from dirt-cheap consumer models found at discount stores, to specialized, professional models such as Canon’s wide-format imagePROGRAF series. On the lower-end, inkjet printers are great at producing photographic quality images, especially when using glossy paper. They are quiet, do not require any warmup time, and the ink replacement is fast and easy. Inkjets are often a great choice for printing on media besides paper, such as iron-on transfers and CD/DVD labels.

    On the downside, that ink, especially in consumer grade models, can be outrageously expensive. As we discussed in an earlier post , the ink in your printer is almost certainly the most expensive liquid you’ll ever own. Inkjet printer heads can get clogged up, especially if they aren’t used regularly; a head cleaning can take a significant amount of time and ink. For most uses, inkjet printers are considerably slower than laser printers.

    Until recently, laser printers were strictly black and white. Since they offered crisp text, high speed and large supplies of consumables (toner), they were the de facto choice for most offices. Color lasers are becoming more affordable, and are now common in most business environments. For photographs, their image quality rarely competes with comparable inkjet printers, although they remain considerably faster.

    While toner spills are rare with modern laser printers, when they do occur, they can be pretty messy. Laser printers require heat to operate, so they need time to “warm up” before printing the first document.

    So the answer to the “which is better” question boils down to a new series of questions: What are your needs? How many documents will you be printing per month? Do you need photographic quality? How many people will be printing at the same time? And a lot of other questions that can have a dramatic effect on your budget.

    Fortunately, this is what Ameritel’s sales professionals live and breathe, every day. We can match a model or even an entire solution to your specific needs, and we back it up with the best support in the region. Let us make your life a little easier — call us today.

  • What do your MFP, your computer, and your smart phone have in common?

    Once upon a time — let’s say, the year 2000 or so — electronic devices and office equipment did what they were designed to do, and little else. A mobile phone basically made and received phone calls; a TV received images; a copier burned images onto paper.

    Today, with microprocessors so cheap, devices everywhere are “smart.” That is, they have full-blown computers buried into them. Sometimes, the computing platform is obvious; that is, no one buys an iPhone to just make phone calls. Others are more subtle: My parents were surprised to find that their new LED TV had Netflix and Amazon prime built-in. And of course what makes these new platforms so dynamic is that you can load new features onto the devices. Often free, these applications — apps — allow a so-equipped device to offer new features down the road. Sometimes, these features haven’t even been thought of when you purchase the device.

    A lot of people don’t realize that their modern MFP from Canon or Kyocera has a powerful processor built-in, which is why it’s able to handle print jobs while you’re copying documents, able to send scans to specific email addresses, and so forth. They can also learn new tricks, because there are apps for many MFPs. That’s because underneath the hood, these MFPs

    have a an application programming language built-in (for the technically inclined, it’s Java, the open source, platform-independent application programming language that powers lots of mobile apps as well). This allows your MFP to have new programs loaded on — just like an iPhone or your coputer.

    Kyocera’s Taskalfa models include a solution called HYPAS (Hybrid Platform for Advanced Solutions). Your Ameritel sales consultant can get you a complete list of available apps, and arrange to have them installed on your new equipment. Highlights include one geared towards teachers (it helps create and process multiple-choice tests), others, such as the apps that allow users to review and approve scanned documents from a mobile phone, or to use an MFP as a fax machine, are geared towards the office environment.

    Canon’s customers have a similar range of apps, such as their Direct Print and Scan for Mobile app, that links a Canon MFP to an iPhone or iPad, supporting printing and scanning.

    New apps are coming out all the time, and Ameritel is here to help you find the right solutions for your needs. Unlock the hidden power of your Kyocera or Canon MFP today.

  • The Myth of the “Inexpensive” Printer

    It’s time for a new printer for your small office. A quick look at the web sites for any of the big-box electronic retailers reveals a huge variety of choices, from major manufacturers. Often they are bundled together with copiers, scanners, and even fax machines. Sometimes the initial cost is ridiculously low — under $80, in some cases.

    What a bargain, right?

    Well, maybe not. The printer manufacturers are taking a page from the cell phone makers: A new iPhone can set you back $700 if you actually buy it outright, but if you get a two-year service plan with a big carrier, suddenly that price drops to a fraction of the original sales figure. Sometimes, and with some models, it drops to zero. The telcomms know that while they’re taking a loss on the initial hardware sale, they’ll make all that money back (and more) on monthly charges.

    Same with that $69 All-in-One printer. It’s unlikely the manufacturer is making much (if any) money on the purchase, but what about the ink cartridges? For a home user, a cartridge might last months, but for an office? Get ready to replace that cartridge, and often. Soon, you’ll have spent more than the printer itself, and that’s what the manufacturer is counting on.

    Ever taken a really close look an ink cartridge? There’s not much material in there. About 20 mL, on average (a ketchup packet from a fast food restaurant has about 25 mL, for comparison purposes). And yet it can cost $30, sometimes more. While apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult, that can come out $5,000 per liter, making it almost certainly the most expensive liquid in your house! (Chanel No. 5 perfume is about $3,000/L, and Dom Perignon ’03 is about $300/L)

    Let’s face it, ink printer cartridges, at least the ones that use separate inks, function pretty much the same way. Yet there are literally hundreds of different models, and your printer will usually work only with the ones designed for your printer. Even a tiny difference in model numbers can make the cartridges incompatible. You have very little choice except to pay the manufacturer up to $50 per cartridge. Refills? Well, some people swear by them, but just as many swear at them. They void your warranty, they often make a mess, and they pretty much never work as well as the OEM cartridges.

    In fact, a PCWorld analysis from 2012 shows that there is an inverse relationship between the cost of the printer and the cost of replacement cartridges; For printer that retailed for more than $200, the ink cost per page was 3.9 cents for black and white, and 8.3 cents for color. For the cheaper printers, which retailed for less than $200, the costs per page jumped to 5.5 cents and 8.9 respectively.

    That adds up. After just one ream of paper (250 sheets), you’re already looking at $4.00 difference. How much paper do you go through?

    “Ah,” you’re saying, “You left out the ink that comes with the new printer! That could add up to a hundred bucks in savings right there!” Well, it might… or it might not. Many inexpensive printers come with so-called “starter” cartridges, usually marked “not for resale.” This is because they have a fraction of the ink that their replacement cartridges boast. Sometimes they’ll handle as a little as 100 pages before running dry.

    AIO units are very tempting, and for the smallest of uses, can represent a real bargain. For people who print a lot of photographs, they’re very hard to beat. But be sure to be realistic about your printing and copying needs, and if you’re like a lot of small-to-medium businesses, leasing a professional-grade unit from industry leaders like Canon or Kyocera makes good economic sense.

    Ameritel is here to help you make the right decision, something we’ve been doing for Washington-area businesses for almost 30 years.

  • Managed Print Services (MPS)

    Pretty much every business is looking for ways to reduce expenses, and improve productivity. What if one solution could do both? Managed Print Services can help!

    Garnter Research tells us that a typical office spends 1-3% of annual revenue on printing and other forms of document production, which might come as a surprise to you, as Gartner’s survey also tells that the typical organization doesn’t really know how much they spend on document production, and have no print strategy in place. Often, the expense associated with hardware acquisition, repairs, and supplies are spread across various departments and different vendors. Pinning down these costs, and identifying areas of improvement with a managed print solution strategy, can offer tangible benefits: a considerable improvement on the bottom line, reduction of waste, improved use of mature technologies, and better forecast future expenses.

    Ameritel’s Mike Hamilton, our MPS specialist, has published a white paper that describes the benefits of MPS, the path to integration, and offers solutions that your organization can use this year. To request a copy of the whtie paper, please contact Mike at mhamilton@AmeritelCorporation.com , or call us at 301-251-0222.