• “Follow Me” Printing: Increases security, lowers cost

    You’ve seen it. You walk up to the printer, and there is a job sitting there in the output tray. Maybe three or four of them. Your job comes out, you pick up the stack, and go back to work.

    An hour later, you print another document, and while waiting for it to print, you notice those old jobs are still there, uncollected. Curious, you peek at the stack, and notice that it’s sensitive information. Do you shred it? Find out who printed it and give it to them?

    Now multiply this scenario by the millions of office workers around the country, and it’s easy to see why we use about 50 million tons of paper every year in the US. That’s about 850 million trees. Estimates vary, but the percentage of print jobs left uncollected appears to be around 30%. In addition, if these jobs are sensitive, and wind up in the recycling bin or the trash dumpster, they can expose your organization’s information to competitors, hackers, or worse. They can contribute to HIPPA and FERPA violations, to name a few.

    One easy solution, that’s built into most modern MFPs, is called “Follow me.” Instead of your print job going directly to the printer, it starts out a secure server. When you arrive at the printer, you identify yourself, and your job is pulled from the server and printed out right there. Now your sensitive information stays with you, instead of sitting around. And the waste factor is reduced dramatically. The server won’t release the print job until you arrive to “claim” it. So if you get sidetracked, or forget to go collect the job, there is no waste of paper. And no exposure to prying eyes.

    An added bonus is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out which printer to send your job to. You can send it from any device — laptop, desktop, tablet or even a phone — and it is routed to whatever printer you physically approach.

    Ameritel’s line of Kyocera and Canon printers support this feature. Call us today at 301-251-0222 to find out how “follow me” can save you time and money, while reducing security risks.

  • Large format printing is now affordable

    A few years ago, most offices were limited to about 8×10 as the maximum for printing photographs. Anything bigger than that required outsourcing the job to a professional print shop. A few offices might have access to a printer that could handle tabloid sized (11 inches by seventeen inches), but those were rare and their supplies were expensive.

    Today, large format printing — generally defined as a width of 24” or more — is quite affordable, with a variety of models that can match any requirements. All of these printers use some variation of ink jet, but with large reserve tanks that lower the cost of consumables. Depending on the model, some large format printers can go beyond photographic paper and print on vinyl, transparencies, or just about anything up to 59 mil thickness. Some models have twelve individual ink cartridges, ensuring an incredible, life-like, vibrant image.

    For example, the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF8400 prints an amazing 2400 x 1200 dpi at 44 inces wide. Yet the cost of this professional-grade printer is surprisingly low, and many businesses are discovering that outsourcing these kinds of jobs is not cost-effective.

    Ameritel can help you find the perfect match for your printing needs — no matter how wide the document is.

  • 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.

  • Ameritel — official copier supplier for the Quicken Loans National

    Ameritel Corporation is proud to be a sponsor and the official copier and printer supplier for the Quicken Loans National. A Tiger Woods Foundation event, the Quicken Loans National is one of only five invitationals on the PGA Tour, and will feature professional golf’s most talented players. Ameritel is continuing our long tradition of being the go-to source for professional sports in the Washington area.

    For more information on this tournament, please see:

  • 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.

  • Hard drive security on MFPs — what you need to know

    The modern, digital MFP is a marvel of technology. It combines the features of a scanner, printer, copier and even a fax machine. It can sort and collate, give you one-button scanning directly to your email, and handle straight up copying jobs — all at the same time.

    One of the ways this electronic miracle performs all of these features is by offloading jobs onto temporary storage while it processes the current job. That is, if you are scanning a 30-page document, and at the same time your co-worker is printing a 50 page document, the MFP captures that print job and stores it, waiting until the unit is free before it starts printing. Pretty smart, right? This is possible because the modern MFP is really a dedicated computer, with a good deal of processing power — and a hard drive.

    Just like the hard drive in your computer. Indeed, it’s the same kind of drive; it’s formatted differently, but mechanically, it’s identical.

    Typical copier hard drive
    A typical copier hard drive (image from Binary Ingestigative team)

    And those images that it processes? Every scan, fax, print and copy? Well they can get stored… for quite some time. In fact, most MFPs don’t start deleting old files until they start to run out of space. That means that literally thousands of images are on the drive at any given time.

    In 2010, CBS news raised attention to this security threat with an investigative piece. Their reporters bought three random, off-lease copiers from a wholesaler, and took them to their office. There they had a technician remove the drives, and examine the contents. To their surprise, they found things like police records and even insurance documents, with thousands of bits of personal information. All easily accessible.

    You can see the segment here:

    At Ameritel, we take security seriously, and that’s why always offer our customers the tools and services necessary to ensure that sensitive data doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Either while our machines are in our customer’s spaces, or after their leases are over. Both Canon and Kyocera offer encryption services with new MFPs, and we offer a certified disk cleansing service to our customers, where we wipe the drive in a method approved by the NSA — ensuring that your confidential information is gone for good.

    If you have any questions about adding these features to an existing machine, just call your sales rep, at 301-251-0222, and we’ll be glad to help you find the solution you need.

  • 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.

  • “It’s not like there’s some magic machine that makes identical copies of things.”

    “It’s not like there’s some magic machine that makes identical copies of things.”

    The line, delivered by “Mad Men’s” ad executive Don Draper, gets a chuckle out of us, viewing it as the 21st century technophiles that we are. Indeed, the episode takes place in March, 1960, coincidentally the same month that Xerox started shipping the Model 914 — the first commercially successful modern copier. Weighing over a quarter ton, with a propensity to catch fire if overtaxed, it cranked out a reasonable image every 26 seconds. To get that kind of performance, you’d have to spend $29,500, or a little over $200,000 in 2013 dollars.

    But Don was right; the modern copier took the business world by storm. Sure, prior to 1960, Don’s secretary could use a carbon paper if she only needed one or two copies (and she didn’t make any mistakes). Or she could make purple-inked, chemical-smelling mimeographs with a hand crank (anyone who graduated from high school prior to 1995 or so can remember the smell). And there were predecessors to the 914 dating back over a decade — Don’s art department probably had one — but they often used chemically-coated paper, required multiple mechanical moves, and/or required mixing up toxic chemicals. The idea that you could put a piece of paper on a flat piece of glass, press a button, and get a copy half a minute later was indeed revolutionary. Xerox sold over 200,000 914 units over an extraordinary sixteen year run.

    And the basic technology is still with us with modern copiers: Charge a drum (or belt) with a negative static charge, project an image of the original with a positive charge, which makes dry powder stick to the drum. The drum transfers the powder to paper, and a heated process locks it onto the paper. Over the last 53 years we’ve seen improvements in performance and reliability, and added thousands of features, like collating, document feeding, two-sided printing, scanning, and of course the digital features that we rely on today. But inside the machine the basic principles of the 914 live on in the most advanced copiers on the planet, like 105-page per minute Canon ImageRunner 105. It’s also what makes your laser printer work.

    Xerox owned the copier market until 1975, when a Federal Trade Commission consent decree declared them a monopoly. Within a few years, multiple competitors entered the marketplace, giving us the incredible advances in technology that we’ve seen since then.

    It’s easy to take modern office equipment for granted, but 50 short years ago, the humble copier in your office really would have been “some magic machine.” Imagine what kind of new features the next 50 years will bring…