Energy efficiency, once a differentiator for vendors, became the norm, as all first- and second-tier vendors appeared to consistently meet Energy Star standards. However, some printer manufacturers include other tools and capabilities--such as speedier time to first page, management tools, automated two-sided printing, and software that automatically turns the printer off after a pre-determined idle time--to further reduce energy usage and costs.
Once out of the price range of smaller departments and enterprise workgroups, even networked color laser printers can now be found throughout a corporation thanks to lower prices of both the hardware and toner. Demand for color models continues to grow, according to several research firms.
"Color laser devices will start to cannibalize monochrome laser printers, but they are not expected to overtake monochrome printers in this forecast period. Color pages will continue to penetrate the office environment as prices decline and users are educated about the benefits of color. However, to become a successful player in this segment, vendors will need to increase their focus on aftermarket costs of color printing," said Akia Ramsay, senior research analyst, printers and peripherals at IDC, in a report.