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2003 First Half Hardware Review

30 Oct, 2003 By: Buyers Laboratory, Inc. imageSource

2003 First Half Hardware Review

keep readers abreast of the latest trends in the printer industry, primarily the
workgroup printer market, Buyers Laboratory's Digital Imaging Review newsletter
recently compiled an overview of 164 printers, most of which were introduced in
the first half of 2003. While many are simply different configurations of the
same model (e.g., HP's LaserJet 5100, 5100tn and 5100dtn), there were 113 new
models, compared to 98 new models covered in the Winter 2003 edition, which
represents an increase of 15 percent.

compiled from all 113 models and their configurations, representing a total of
164 printers, reveals recent trends in the printer industry and provides a basis
to forecast what lies ahead.

Printer Production Declines The most noticeable difference in the new printers
introduced over the past six to nine months is the decrease in the number of
color units, which have been on the increase over the past 12 to 18 months. Only
73 of the 164 new printers listed in the Summer 2003 printer guide offer either
standard color printing or optional highlight color printing, which represents
only 44 percent of all new printers, a decline of more than 20 percent from the
number of new color printers listed in the Winter 2003 printer guide published
in January and introduced primarily in the latter half of 2002.

factors may have contributed to this decline, including the recent boom in
single-pass color printers that may have already saturated the color workgroup
market, although most manufacturers and/or vendors are already planning to
launch new color printers by the end of the year. As the cost per page for color
continues to decrease, and the black cost per page for color units becomes more
competitive with that of monochrome models, the number of color printers on the
market will undoubtedly rise again in the near future.

Workgroup Nearly 63 percent of the new models, representing 120 printers, fall
within the laser/LED workgroup range, which includes both color and monochrome
units. Of the 31 manufacturers and/or vendors with new models listed in this
printer guide, 22 offer laser and/or LED workgroup printers (18 offer at least
one laser printer and six offer at least one LED printer, with only Lexmark and
IBM, which offers versions of the Lexmark models, offering both laser and LED

Laser/LED Workgroup Only 43 of the new laser/LED workgroup printers are color
units, accounting for only 36 percent of all new laser and/or LED workgroup
models. This represents a decrease of nearly 20 percent from the number of color
laser/LED workgroup printers listed in the Winter 2003 printer guide. Perhaps
manufacturers are slowing down the color trend in the workgroup market, which
could be attributed to a number of factors, including resistance in the office
to purchase color printers where monochrome units will suffice. Even so,
single-pass color models that incorporate four-drum technology continue to flood
the market, with 37 new single-pass printers listed in the current guide, in
addition to 31 single-pass models launched in the second half of last year.
Single-pass color printers account for nearly all (86 percent) of the new color

Laser/LED Workgroup As witnessed in the current edition of the printer guide,
monochrome printing is still alive and kicking, with 70 of the 164 new printers
falling in the monochrome laser/LED workgroup range, representing nearly 43
percent of all new models. This constitutes a 100 percent increase over the
number of new monochrome laser and LED printers listed in the last edition of
the printer guide, indicating that monochrome printing in the office isn't going
away anytime soon.

Laser/LED Printers Nearly 11 percent of all new laser/LED workgroup printers are
multifunctional units, featuring standard copy and scan capability and, less
frequently, standard faxing. The 13 multifunctional laser/LED printers range in
price from as low as $299 to just over $17,000.

Printers Only 23 new printers listed in the Summer 2003 printer guide are inkjet
units, representing 14 percent of all new printers launched in the first half of
this year, a decrease of nearly 50 percent compared to the number of new inkjet
printers listed in the Winter 2003 printer guide. This decline may be attributed
to an overly saturated inkjet market and the continuing decrease in cost for
color laser/LED printers. Of the 31 manufacturers and/or vendors with new models
listed in this printer guide, only five offer inkjet printers. Eight of the 23
new inkjet models are "all-in-one" printers that feature standard
copy, scan and/or fax capabilities in addition to print. All eight
multifunctional inkjet printers are color units that accommodate up to
legal-size paper.

Printers Sixteen of the 164 new printers listed in this guide are production
models, with speeds ranging between 65 to 851 ppm. Pricing ranges from as low as
just over $22,000 to $845,000, with the average cost for a new production
printer just over $230,000. All 16 models accommodate at least up to 11" x
17" paper, with average standard and maximum paper capacities of 4,400
sheets and 7,000 sheets, respectively. Fourteen of the production models feature
standard 10/100BaseTX Ethernet connectivity. In addition, eight production
models feature standard duplexing and seven feature standard hard-disk drives.

Although the current edition of the printer guide reveals a decrease in color
printers, primarily workgroup laser and/or LED models, expect this aberration to
be short-lived as most manufacturers are likely to introduce new color laser/LED
printers into the winter. In addition, expect to see color laser/LED printers at
lower prices in the near future and more all-in-one inkjet printers with
standard copy and scan capabilities. All-in-one models, which already account
for nearly 35 percent of all new inkjet units, will continue to penetrate the
inkjet market. Look for nearly all standalone inkjet printers in the near future
to be designed exclusively for photo printing, while all-in-ones dominate the
small-office/home-office market.

Summer 2003 BLI Printer Specification Guide is available now at $42.95 for one
issue or $75.95 for a year's subscription (non-dealer pricing), which includes
winter and summer editions published in January and July, respectively. For more
information, visit BLI's Web site at www.buyerslab.com, e-mail BLI at info@buyerslab.com,
or call (201) 488-0404.

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