A3 Versus A4: New Advanced Search Capabilities Added to bliQ

<p><i>By <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/news/viewarticle.asp?article=68970">George Mikolay</a>, Senior Product Editor, A3/Copier MFPs, August 31, 2010 </i></p> <p>When you hear about A3 (11&quot; x 17&quot;) versus A4 (8.5&quot; x 11&quot;/8.5&quot; x 14&quot;) and how the lines are continuing to blur between the products, it’s not exactly groundbreaking news. We’ve been talking about <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/search_media.asp?MediaID=34164"><b>this topic</b></a> for years. A3 (copier) vendors, who were the first to launch devices with multifunction capabilities including printing, scanning and faxing, first really took notice of A4 (printer) vendors offering multifunctional devices in 2004 with HP’s launch of the <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=2... 4345 MFP</b></a>. Touted by HP as a “game-changing” product that would “disrupt” the traditional copier-centric multifunctional product market, the device featured a suggested retail price (SRP) that at the time was 72 percent below the average of copier-based multifunction device competitors. Device capabilities were limited, however. In addition to only accommodating paper sizes up to 8.5&quot; x 14&quot;, maximum paper capacity was 50 percent below the average of A3-based competitors, and only basic finishing capabilities were offered. The LaserJet 4345’s control panel was also unlike any found on competitive A3 devices, making the transition from traditional A3 devices more confusing for end users. </p> <p>In the years since then, A4 and A3 models have become much more alike. In fact, today we challenge anyone to look at the control panel of any number of MFPs, and without knowing anything else about them, tell us which control panel belongs to the A4 device and which to the A3 device. </p> <p>· Customizable touch-sensitive LCD display, in color </p> <p>· Easy-to-navigate menu system </p> <p>· Copier-like naming conventions on A4 control panels, such as duplexing </p> <!--break--> <p>Sure, there are still differences between A3 and A4 today, notably in cost-related areas. In addition to the lower acquisition cost, A4 models do not require scheduled maintenance, as all consumables, supplies and parts are user replaceable. This gives buyers the flexibility of foregoing expensive service contracts. But while the acquisition cost of an A4 MFP is much lower than that of an A3 MFP, they have higher supplies cost per page, as they typically utilize all-in-one printer cartridges that incorporate the drum and must be replaced whenever the toner is spent. </p> <p>While the lines are blurry, there is no doubt that the A4 base has been growing as more and more vendors continue to introduce devices into this category. Indeed, the A3 vendors have heard the bell, and they are answering it. In late 2008, Sharp became the first of the traditional copier vendors to launch its own workgroup-level A4/letter MFPs, including the <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=4..., <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=3... and <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=3.... Like copiers, these models feature separate drums, developer and toner. With the launch of these A4 models, Sharp now not only offers both A3 and A4 products, but also A4 products that meet the differing service requirements of various kinds of customers, as MX versions sold through the traditional dealer channel provide replacement of consumables via service, while DX models sold through the reseller channel are for those customers who prefer a more printer-like service model where they change consumables themselves. Konica Minolta also recently threw its hat in the ring, announcing the <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=5... C35</b></a>, an A4 MFP slated for availability in July. The device will offer rated speeds of 31 ppm in color and black and is billed as a “mini bizhub,” and it will offer all functionality standard, including faxing; open architecture technology; convenience stapling of up to 50 sheets per set; and, like with the company’s A3 devices, standard hard drive encryption and overwrite. </p> <p>Seeing the migration of 25- to 30-ppm A3 engines to the A4 space, Kyocera will be looking to bridge the gap between users who do not want to give up A3 functionality, but want the lower acquisition cost and convenience of A4 MFP technology, with the launch of four A3 models slated for the January to March timeframe. These engines will feature standard print, copy and color scanning, as well as a new 4.3&quot; color touch-screen control panel. The devices will also feature simplified network setup from the control panel, with a click-through, wizard-like setup for IP address, network authentication and other network-specific settings. Canon also recently introduced its new 2500 Series, including the A3 <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=5... 2545</b></a>, <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=5..., <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=5... and <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/bliq/product/showSpecItem.asp?type=4&amp;spec=5..., and positions these devices as competing against both A3 and A4 models. </p> <p>We know that you want answers regarding A3 versus A4, and need help to determine what type of device is right for you. Here’s how you can take the first step: Now you can easily find both A3 and A4 machines with the new field added to bliQ’s Advanced Search. “Max Paper Size” enables you to select machines with one or more of the following criteria: </p> <p>· Letter/Legal/A4 </p> <p>· Tabloid/A3 </p> <p>· Specialty/Photo </p> <p>· Wide Format </p> <p>Please let us know what you think of this new feature, what else you’d like to see regarding A3 versus A4, and if you would like training for the brand new feature on bliQ. Contact our <a href="mailto:support@buyerslab.com">Customer Support and Training team</a> at 201-488-0404. </p> <p>This article was originally posted on <a href="http://www.buyerslab.com/news/viewarticle.asp?article=68970">Buyer’s Laboratory</a>.</p>

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