How to Shift Printers from Commodity Status to Profitable Hardware

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Review: Konica Minolta brings a high-end printer to the market that all but prints greenbacks.

For close to a decade, business-class laser printers have offered limited sales opportunities to solution providers. For the lucky few who can move those printers in volume, meager margins can add up and some revenue can be had. But, those sales often lead to a dead end; sure, a business buys a printer, but whether the VAR will ever hear from that customer again is anyone's guess. What's more, many businesses are turning to office-supply companies and mail-order sources to buy what is now considered a business commodity item.

Konica Minolta is looking to change the commodity status of printers with their bizhub and magicolor series of printers.

New this month is the magicolor 8650DN, a business-class color laser printer that is designed to become Konica Minolta's top offering in its color printer line. While bringing a top-of-the-line printer into existence may be exciting in its own right, the real news here is for the channel.

The 8650DN is destined for sale via the channel and offers a plethora of finishing options and upgrades, along with a service-revenue potential. The unit has the capability to become the centerpiece of printing for most any business environment, which makes it ideal for vertical and horizontal markets. The flexibility of the 8650DN also allows VARs to build vertical market solutions around it and then offer ongoing support for the unit, along with supplies and maintenance.

To further support the channel, Konica Minolta has reworked its partner program to increase revenue opportunities by training VARs to service and maintain printers as part of their marketing effort. The channel program also facilitates the sales of warranty programs, installation services and supplies. Konica Minolta also works with major distributors—such as D&H, Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data.

As solution providers know, it takes a lot more than a good channel program to sell a product. It also takes features and capabilities that outpace the competition. Here, Konica Minolta excels; the 8650DN brings performance and innovation to the market that is second to none.

To view a Channel Labs Walk-through of the Konica Minolta 8650DN, click here.

The basic unit offers a 35 page per minute print speed, large format printing and resolution up to 19,200 x 600 dpi. The printing quality eliminates the need to outsource high-quality documents and the large format capabilities support full-bleed tabloid designs, as well as banner-sized pages.

Solution providers can also add advanced finishing options to the printer, including stapling, hole punching and booklet making to truly make the unit replace the offerings from an outside print shop. The benefit here is that businesses can create professional quality publications for pennies a page and that can all be done in-house with the magicolor 8650DN.

The 8650DN's 1Ghz PowerPC processor further speeds printing and brings a first page out speed of 8.5 seconds (for color) to the unit. Interfaces include a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port and USB 2.0. The unit's included driver/software suite allows the use of "print boxes," scheduled printing and document storage. The "print boxes" work like user mail boxes, where a print job can be stored on a hard drive in the printer, password protected and then retrieved directly from the printer's control panel. That feature allows users to store their print jobs until they are physically present at the printer, preventing mixed up print jobs or lost documents.

Print quality is something you have to see to believe. The 8650DN tested made quick work of the Channel Insider's lab test images. Color coverage and detail was exceptional and the colors were represented accurately and consistently. Prints using the duplex option also exhibited the same excellent quality. Konica Minolta rates the 8650DN for 150,000 page monthly duty cycle and offers a one year warranty.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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