Laser market hots up as HP and Epson come out fighting

SMB buyers now have a whole new category of printer products to consider after both HP and Epson launched their first colour laser multifunction printers (MFPs).

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By  Matthew Wade Published  May 19, 2005

SMB buyers now have a whole new category of printer products to consider after both HP and Epson launched their first colour laser multifunction printers (MFPs). Epson was the first company to announce such a machine when it unveiled its new AcuLaser CX11N series at a special press event in Rome. The firm’s two CX11NF and CX11N models are targeted at small office and workgroup users, and offer nifty print and copy speeds of 25ppm in mono and 5ppm in colour, plus first page out times of nine seconds in mono and 17 seconds in colour. In addition to prints, copies and colour scanning, the AcuLaser CX11NF also adds fax functionality. Both CX11N models feature the Epson Net 10/100 Base Tx Ethernet interface, which allows users to scan documents and print across the office. Pricing has yet to be set for this region. HP meanwhile chose London at which to unveil its new LaserJet 2800 series as part of HP IPG’s first dedicated SMB gathering for the EMEA region, themed ‘Shaping the Future’. This event also included the launch of 14 other new products for SMBs. The Color LaserJet 2800 AiO (all-in-one) is network ready and touts print and copy speeds of 19ppm in mono and 4ppm in colour. Two versions of the 2800 will hit the market over the coming weeks: the 2820 is a three-in-one device offering print, copy and scan functions for an end user price of roughly $1,160; while the more feature-packed 2840 costs $1,290, through which users also get fax functionality and built-in digital memory card slots. Laser printer technology has been around for the best part of a decade now, but it’s only within the last two years that colour machines have smashed through the sub-$1,000 price barrier and become truly affordable for the majority of SMB customers. This price issue was the reason that HP waited to launch its first colour laser all-in-one, HP IPG EMEA’s vice president, Michael Hoffmann, told Windows, “People have an insatiable appetite for price reductions,” he explained, “but it’s only really now that we’ve been able to offer this technology at what we considered the right price.” Aside from the 2800, one other key HP launch was its bargain-priced colour laser, the Color LaserJet 2600n. Aimed at small firms looking for a way to bring expensive, outsourced colour print jobs in-house for the first time, this costs just $514. HP also launched no less than four new wide-format printers, with Emilio Ghilardi, HP IPG EMEA’s vice president and commercial general manager, commenting that these models are increasingly being bought by ‘general’ businesses rather than pure design operations. “Wide-format printers are moving away from specialist use and really now heading into the mainstream,” he explained. This burgeoning trend appears to be being fuelled, in part, by the dwindling prices of such models.

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