The world talks a good game when it says "paperless" is the way to go, but printers are here to stay, especially in the work environment. Whether you work from home or at the corner office in the corporate tower, your desk is covered in print outs, and the printer in the corner is likely humming along all day long.
That's why, as part of the regular Readers' Choice Survey on printers every year conducted by PCMag, they made sure to ask not just about the little inkjets used to print the kids' art projects, but how readers feel about the high-end printing systems they use. After all, they can't stress-test all the printers in PCMag Labs reviews, so it helps to get the perspective of the people in the trenches.
The follow page reveals the results: the printer makers you should turn to when you want low costs, high reliability, and just an overall excellent experience. The magazine will also compare the results to what they saw last year, so you get a better idea of who is improving and what vendors are worth reconsidering. After all, even at a bargain price, an unreliable printer will get you nowhere.
Printers for Work
Last year the results were a neck-and-neck race between three favorite printer makers: Brother, Canon, and Epson. This year, things got even closer, yet in many ways easier to call.
Brother had the clear lead last year with an overall score of 8.6 (on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 indicating perfect overall satisfaction). For 2015, it fell back, leading to a three-way tie at 8.4 between Brother, Epson, and Xerox.
Red indicates a Business Choice winner.
In the end, PC Mag had to give the Business Choice Award to the two winners from last year, Brother and Epson. Both of them have best-in-class-scores for reliability (8.7 for each), a low number of products that needed actual repair (Brother at 6%, Epson at 5%), and excellent likelihood to recommend numbers (8.5 and 8.4, respectively).
Xerox, while it did well in that overall satisfaction question, can't compete in any other way. Its reliability score of 8.3 is behind most of the vendors that made the cut (only Dell and Lexmark did worse). Xerox also continues to have an embarrassingly high numbers of products that require repair, at 23%. That's almost one in four Xerox printers getting sent back to be fixed.
The big fall this year goes to Canon. A favorite in PCMag's Readers' Choice for over a decade, this is the first year the company has dropped out of favor in the home survey and now in the business-end survey. Canon's overall score of 8.2 puts it on par with HP, another huge name in the industry, but one that has never had the affinity with our audience that Canon has—or had. That said, Canon still had pretty excellent marks for reliability of 8.6, just behind Brother and Epson's 8.7. Canon's likelihood to be recommended is also just a hair lower than Epson, if you factor the Net Promoter scores, which show Epson at 51% and Canon at 48%.
When it comes to these numbers, the world of work printers is an open field. Samsung also has a fighting chance in a year or so, if it can improve reliability and cut back that 10% of units needing repair. It really could be a contender for the office printer market award. We'll see in 2016.
For the 2015 Business Choice series, PCMag emailed survey invitations to their community members, specifically subscribers to their Readers' Choice Survey mailing list. This survey was hosted by Equation Research, which also performs PCMag's data collection. This survey was in the field from June 22, 2015 through July 12, 2015.
Respondents were asked to rate their business printer. They were asked multiple questions about their overall satisfaction as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.
Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the printer compare to one another and not how one respondent's experience compares to another's, PCMag use the average of the printer manufacturer's rating, not the average of every respondent's rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, "Overall, how satisfied are you with your printer for work?"
Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.
Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 best seller, The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company's customers than "how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?" This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors).