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Is a printer with a built-in scanner a better choice than a photocopier?

Posted by Mark Bates
Jun 20, 2017

Is A Printer With A Built-In Scanner A Better Choice Than A Photocopier?

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have to make smart decisions when it comes to buying equipment for the office. If you’re in need of something to help you scan and print documents, you might be wondering whether a printer with a built-in scanner a better choice than a photocopier.

Typically, photocopiers and multifunction printers provide similar support, although there are some subtle differences between the two, including size and range of features.

One of the biggest decisions you will need to make, however, is whether to buy or rent a printer with a built-in scanner or photocopier. In many cases photocopiers hire, printer hire and scanner hire can be a cost-effective and flexible alternative to buying the equipment outright.

In this blog post we look at the key differences between photocopiers and multifunction printers to help you decide which product is right for your business.

photocopierPhoto by Stephen Shellard

Copiers vs. Multifunction Printers: Pros and Cons

At first glance, photocopiers and multifunction printers might look to be exactly the same. But take a peek under the bonnet and you’ll see some differences between the two. Here’s what copiers and printers are used for and the advantages and disadvantages of both products.

A standard photocopier does just one job: it copies documents for you. However, standalone copiers are fairly rare in today’s offices and you will now tend to find ones that allow you to copy, print and scan.

A printer with a built-in scanner – or a multifunction printer – tend to allow you to scan, print, copy and fax, packing four useful features into one product.

Pros and cons of multi-function printers


  • Modern printers provide a comprehensive range of printing, scanning and copying features
  • Tend to be smaller than copiers so take up less space
  • Support lots of different paper types and provide a range of finishing options


  • Some are limited to one function at a time – for example, they can’t scan and print at the same time
  • Ink-based copiers can use up a lot of ink
  • Not great for heavy printing use

Pros and cons of photocopiers


  • Good for heavy document use
  • Very fast
  • Can handle multiple paper sizes


  • Copiers with lots of features can be expensive – consider photocopiers hire instead
  • The cartridges can be expensive
  • Typically larger than printers, so tend to take up more space

Printer vs Photocopier: Which Is Right For Your Business?

When deciding between photocopiers hire and printer hire, you will need to weigh up a number of things to help you decide which product is the right one for your business.

To start with, look at how many employees you have. Of these workers, how many do you estimate would need to print, copy, scan and fax on a regular basis?

Next, think about space. Remember that photocopiers are usually larger than printers, so if you’re a fairly small company and are short on space, this might not be the best option for you. If, on the other hand, you’re a large company with a dedicated printing room, it could well be.

Finally, think about the kind of work you do. Do you need something for day-to-day office use – printing off contracts, scanning documents and faxing suppliers? If so, a multifunction printer could well be your best bet – they are a strong all-rounder designed for everyday use.

If you do a lot of intensive work and will need to print more than just A4 paper, consider a photocopier – they are designed to do much more sophisticated printing jobs.

As a final thought, it really is worth considering hiring printers, scanners and copiers for office use. Buying such equipment outright requires a big upfront payment – hiring photocopiers, printers and scanners, on the other hand, allows you to spread the cost out on a monthly basis, so is great for managing cash flow.

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