Updated Aug 6, 2022 3:51 AM
Copy machines are an office equipment staple. Businesses large and small and many families use an office copier every day. The best copy machines usually do more than make copies. They’re printers, fax machines, and scanners that create an all-in-one digital hub for office busywork.
Reliability, connectivity, and versatility are the factors that make a difference in your copy machine. You’ll also need to consider the copier’s size. Copy machines can be behemoths that do everything but type the words or take the pictures for you. That might be great, but do you have the room (and budget) for a machine like that? Consider what you need the copier to do versus extra perks that might add dollars to the price. We’ve rounded up some of the best copy machines on the market and included tips to help you make your pick.
The best copy machine for a mid-sized business office might not be the best option for a home office. Keep reading to get a few tips on how to handle your copy volume, quality, and which extra features are worth a splurge.
Get consistent color quality and top-notch photocopying
The best copy machines offer consistency in copy quality, but there’s more to consider than just quality. The kind and number of copies you need can also help determine the machine that’s right for you. If you make and copy 11-inch by 17-inch posters, you’ll need a wide format copy machine. These models are found in mid- to large-sized offices. They have wheels, multiple paper drawers, and are some of the fastest models available.
However, if you don’t need a large format, a digital copy machine that scans documents to create a perfect copy might be more within your budget and needs. They’re more affordable and create excellent copies.
Another option is an all-in-one copy machine. These machines copy, print, scan, and fax. They’re smaller and more of an all-purpose office workhorse that doesn’t have the speed or quality of some of the more expensive copy machines.
You also have to think about laser versus inkjet copy machines. The best (and fastest) quality will also come from a laser printer. They can also print a high volume in a short amount of time. The best laser printers have the distinction of quieter operation, too. However, laser printers are more expensive, have expensive replacement cartridges, and tend to be larger.
Best laser copy machine: Brother MFC-L8900CDW Color Laser All-in-One Printer
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is a commercial copy machine that offers top-of-the-line features like remote control through an app and cloud printing. A five-inch touch screen makes it easier to scroll through options and change settings. It’s got great connectivity and runs much quieter than comparable machines. The downside is that there can be some color issues like the machine using color ink to print black unless you change the settings.
Looking for a copy machine with the fastest photocopy speed?
Sometimes, you need 200 reports in ten minutes, and not every copier can pull that off. Copy speed is measured in pages per minute. Machines that produce 25 to 40 pages per minute are on the high end of productivity. However, speed alone isn’t your only consideration.
You also have to think about copy quality, cost, and your monthly copy volume. A printer that pumps out fast copies may be great, but if the ink is uneven and blotchy, the copier won’t help your business’s professionalism. The point is to balance speed with quality.
The last consideration when it comes to speed is your monthly volume. Are you making a steady number of copies every day, or do you make the majority of the month’s copies at certain times of day, week, or month? If you need 1,000 copies per day, a slow machine can do it as long as time isn’t an issue. However, if you have days where you need 10,000 copies by 11 am, you’ll need more speed to meet your volume on time.
Best digital copier for speed: Brother Monochrome Laser Printer
The Brother Monochrome Laser Printer provides far more than just fast printing, but that’s where it begins. It offers 36 pages per minute of black-and-white copies (no color copies with this one). It can handle different types of paper like cardstock and envelopes. It also includes a 50-sheet document feeder for copying and scanning. Keep in mind that this printer can be a bear to set up.
Small-medium businesses need a digital copier that can keep up
Small-medium businesses (SMB) put their equipment to the test. They typically need one of the best digital copiers to keep up with demand and stay within a smaller budget. Small businesses often need higher volume and faster speeds than a home copier, too. All-in-one digital copy machines offer copying, printing, faxing, and scanning at speeds that meet business needs.
Features like touchscreens, multiple drawers, and cloud sharing can make it easier for a team of people to use the copy machine. Models with cloud sharing can connect to programs like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneNote so that shared documents can get copied or printed by anyone on the team. It helps if these copiers are wireless so that mobile devices can communicate with the copier, too.
Best photocopier for SMB: Brother MFC-L3710W Compact Digital All-in-One Printer
The Brother MFC-L3710W Compact Digital All-in-One Printer’s color touchscreen makes it easier to program your copying jobs, as well as connect to cloud services to download documents. It’s also equipped with WiFi so that a team of people can connect from laptops and mobile devices. This Brother copier produces excellent color and black-and-white copies with a 19-page-per-minute speed. However, the replacement toner can get pricey if you’re printing in high volumes.
A wireless printer/copy machine makes sharing digital documents easier
Copy machines come with some pretty amazing features, including digital sharing and cloud printing. These machines can work with cloud platforms like Google Docs and Dropbox, making it easier to copy on the go, work with clients, or a team. Anyone on your team can tap into the document, print, or make a copy on the office copy machine.
These machines also connect to mobile devices from anywhere in the home or office. Models that also happen to be all-in-one may be able to scan documents, save them to the cloud, and print them later. They can become a vital source of managing documents and paperwork.
Best copy machine with cloud printing: HP Neverstop 1202w Wireless Mono Laser Printer
The HP Neverstop 1202w Wireless Mono Laser Printer does a little bit of everything from a compact package. This laser printer prints 21 pages per minute and connects to an HP app for wireless control, including scanning and saving documents to the cloud. Of course, it can also access documents in the cloud for printing and copying too. This HP is an eco-friendly option that uses less ink, with a toner cartridge that happens to be easier to replace than other models. However, it does lose some print quality, and the Neverstop can’t print double-sided unless you manually feed the paper.
Need a photocopier on the go?
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, a portable copy machine can save you in a pinch. These small copy machines/printers can help you before a big presentation or let you print receipts and tickets while you travel. They’re pint-sized in comparison to a full-size office copier and weigh as little as six or seven pounds. These models may offer scanning, faxing, and printing, too.
However, these aren’t the copiers for high-volume jobs. They can print around 10 to 15 pages per minute, so stick to an office printer for the high-volume printing and copying.
Best portable copy machine: HP Tango Smart Wireless Printer
The HP Tango Smart Wireless Printer offers WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can access copying and printing from mobile devices. It weighs in at only 6 pounds and prints 11 pages per minute. The Tango can print on more than paper, working with cardstock, envelopes, and labels, too. However, this little powerhouse is an inkjet, so quality and speed can’t rival bigger machines.
Best budget copy machine: What you get for under $100
Cheap copy machines work when you don’t need to make hundreds of copies every day. They can still offer multiple functions like printing and scanning. Where you’ll see some differences is in the size of the machine, the tray capacity (if there’s a tray at all), and they may not make the cleanest copies.
You’re also more likely to see inkjet copiers at this price, which also means slower printing speeds. There are some laser copiers for under $100, but a laser copier at this price typically has sub-par copy quality.
Best cheap copy machine: HP DeskJet Plus 4155 Wireless All-in-One Printer
The HP DeskJet Plus 4155 Wireless All-in-One Printer provides a little bit of everything at a price most people can afford. It’s more than just a copier. It also prints, scans, and sends mobile faxes (but you only get free mobile fax for 24 months). A slower print speed of 8.5 pages per minute means you’ll need to plan in advance for large print jobs. HP recommends it for homes where you print 100-300 pages per month.
Q: Which copier brand is best?
The best copier brand depends on the type of copy machine you’re looking for. Brother and HP rule with the larger copy machines while Canon is starting to make a dent in the small, portable model market.
Q: How long should a copier last?
Most copiers last around three to five years. However, that time will depend on copy volume—the more copies you make, the faster the copy machine will wear out.
A final word on shopping for the best copy machine
The best copy machine for you will depend on your copy volume and how you intend to use the machine. High-volume copying requires a combination of fast copy speeds, while businesses that copy presentations may need to focus on quality and color. Whether you’re looking for an office copy machine or one for personal use, there’s a model with the right size, speed, and quality waiting for you.