Should your next surgery printer be an Epson?

First let me declare Epson have lent me 2 printers, 1 black and white and 1 colour to try out. However, I’ve not had my hands tied, I’ve not signed any agreement to be nice and I’ve been asked to give my honest opinion. Also I hope if you know me – I always say what I think!

The story is I bumped into a rep contact/friend at the last EMIS conference, she had moved company to Epson and I engaged in a conversation with her about why join the third to market company – the GP printer market is arguably dominated by Brother and HP – she said – “because I think they have a great pitch – what do you think?”

She then went on to explain that Epson is promoting their workforce inkjet printers to GPs, not lasers and that there are several advantages to me as the GP…

What Epson or at least their marketing people appear to have grasped is that – while I don’t buy my printers I do pay for the running costs and this is what I should be pushing for.

Let me explain. Most hardware is bought from GPs by the CCG often via the CSU. Its usually bought in bulk, it’s often last years model and over the years due to different models coming and going we can have multiple different printers in the office.

However once the printer is on the desktop – the running costs, the electricity, the toner and the replacement drums are paid for by me.

As an aside our storeroom is a nightmare – we look like a branch of Staples – we have so many toners and drums its crazy. My staff have a habit of ordering a couple of each just in case we run out – despite the fact most stuff arrives next day or at a worst case someone could jump in a car and go to Staples! We have a large amount of capital in that cupboard – some of which we will never use.

Epson are pushing the idea that their printers have the cheapest running costs. Their electricity costs are much lower, their ink costs are much lower and therefore as a large company with 30+ printers we should make a saving. I guess their ultimate argument is if a CCG or hospital moved over to them quite a large saving could be made.

Now – I haven’t personally tested all these claims. They appear to have quite a few analysis proving they are cheaper to run. I guess purchase cost will make a difference. The CSU won’t want to spend more money from its IT budget to save me on my running costs. But if they are the same price – I can see an incentive for me to push for these to be the prefered choice and presumably this is why they lent me a couple. So how do they work as printers?

Well they are great. They start instantly, none of that laser warm up, ok you have the backwards and forward noise, which is a bit of a throw back, but they are fast and accurate and neat.

One of the engineers was trying to explain to me that because it uses real ink that binds to the paper rather than being baked to it as in a laser – they are technically more secure for prescriptions – I’m not sure how important that is to me frankly but I mention it. Certainly, they load and print to prescriptions fine, and allow you to have plain paper for leaflets and other printing. The printers I’ve tested arent that small, perhaps my only critisism. I was expecting something a little smaller but its basically the same size as a laser. Its quiet and efficicent and I havent felt the need to put the old printer back.

Indeed I really like the colour one as I spend half my life in meetings and while I try not to print out the minutes sometimes you just cant not especially the graphs and such and now I’ve got one printer that allows me to do prescriptions and paperwork.

It certainly seems as good to me if not better. Certainly, if the lower running costs are true and the purchase costs are the same, I will be pushing for our CSU to move to them.

One advantage of them being modern printers is they have AirPrint which is a nice feature. They also appear to play well in a networked environment. I’m not 100% sure that every printer in the range uses the same ink packs so we might still have the cupboard phenomenon but the built-in software appears very good at warning you when the ink is getting low and the XL packs of ink appaer to last for ever if just doing scripts.

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