Despite the increasing pace at which digital documents zoom around the office, the ever-improving screen resolution and quality of displays, and the rise of laptops that rotate or detach into flat surfaces, paper remains a universal distribution standard that continues to set the bar for portability and static content consumption.

Canon has made a strong marketing push to remind consumers of this. The company poked fun at a range of consumer scenarios last year with its hilarious (in my favorite instance darkly) Never Again commercials that received millions of YouTube hits.

On a more serious note, small businesses not only have the need to print but have other unique needs. Two years ago, Canon launched a line of printers dubbed Maxify to help small businesses achieve full... maxification. What does that entail? Product manager Kevin McCarthy explains that it's a focus on this customer -- who wants consumer affordability and ease of use but shares some needs with larger enterprises -- that makes the difference. Much of that comes down to speed, economy and connectivity.

For example, small businesses print at a different scale than consumers so Canon equipped the Maxify line with extra-large ink tanks that will print up to 1,500 color documents, and 2,500 mono. The 4-color multipack has a full set of replacement ink for an even more cost-effective printing solution. There is also multi-page document handling capabilities within the range of Maxify printer models that can handle large paper capacity and almost all include a built-in 50-sheet automatic document feeder for scanning or copying.

Of course, speed is an essential characteristic of any small business printer, but it's not just about how fast printers churn out paper once they get going. There's a psychological barrier to printing at all if there's a long waiting period for a simple one-page document. So Canon made sure the Maxify printers were quick to respond to print requests; they can deliver a first page in only seven seconds.

And these days, those pages are very likely to come from networked devices. Many inexpensive consumer printers have networking capabilities. But the Maxify line offers a remote user interface that allows you to manage your printing over a network. You can monitor total usage, printing type (like mono duplex printing), ink levels, and print status. You can also restrict usage for specific operations like limiting color printing and set up printer settings on the cloud setup link.

In addition, in a nod to the increasing role that mobile devices play in small businesses, you can share printing and scan functions over a Wi-Fi connection from anywhere, so you can print on the go from your smartphone. There is a Maxify app that can be downloaded to mobile devices or you can use Apple AirPrint or Google Cloud Print.

At the Maxify website, Canon has enlisted veteran tech entrepreneur Tim Berry and small business marketing expert Ivana Taylor to develop a series for helping small businesses with marketing and other business issues and it's even offering a free year's worth of WeTransfer Plus, a service that facilitates the transfer of large files. The Maxify line starts at $149 although you can find the entry-level model for less than $100.

Published on: May 27, 2016
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