by Robert Palmer | 11/25/14
On November 19, Ricoh launched a new line of A3-size monochrome MFPs aimed at mid-to-large-size workgroups. What sets these new machines apart from other Ricoh MFPs, and indeed most competitive products, is the ability to control the device directly from a smart phone or tablet. According to Ricoh, the MP 2554/MP 3054/MP 3554 series of products empower users to take control of their MFP and achieve new levels of information access and mobility.
By downloading the new Ricoh Smart Device Connector app, which is available for both iOS and Android operating systems, users can control the functions of the MFP simply by walking up and authenticating themselves to the device. To authenticate and connect, users can either touch their Smart Device to the NFC tag on the Smart Operation Panel or scan the machine’s QR Code. Once a connection is established, a customized user interface is displayed on the user’s personal smart phone or tablet, providing access to all functions and features, including print, scan, copy, or fax.
Utilizing the smart device as a platform interface is interesting in a number of ways, not the least of which is the level of personalization that users can expect with this type of experience. It is not just a case of replicating the standard UI on the MFP itself. Instead, users can customize the layout based on a set of pre-configured preferences, providing quick and seamless access to personal information, contacts, and product features. It basically allows each individual user to create a personal interface and for the same piece of hardware.
Even if users choose not to deploy the Smart Device Connector, the new machines support an optional Smart Operation Panel that provides “tablet-like” functionality, with navigation features such as pinching and swiping on a 10.1-inch Super VGA panel. Once again, Ricoh is looking to replicate the “smart” device experience. Each of the new models also includes an advanced Web browser enabling connection to Ricoh’s Integrated Cloud Environment (ICE).
From a speeds and feeds perspective, Ricoh’s new models are pretty straightforward. The MP 2554 supports speeds of up to 25 ppm, while the MP 3054 and MP 3554 have speeds of 30, and 35 pages-per-minute, respectively. There are various configurations and optional paper handling accessories available for each model. The base-level MP 2554 has an MSRP of $6,400, while the MP 3054 sells for $8,350 and the MP 3554 for $9,880. These new models replace Ricoh’s MP 2553, MP 3053, and MP 3353.
The continued transition to mobile technologies is not only changing how we work, it is also impacting the design of printing hardware. The “consumerization” of the MFP is a trend that extends from the desire to provide a more consumer-like experience in B2B products. More and more, individuals are bringing their own personal devices into the workplace, and they want their office technology experience to mirror what they have come to expect from their personal technology.
This is clearly behind the trend toward the “tablet-like” interface on the MFP. Lately, OEMs are placing greater emphasis on the design and functionality of the user interface, with features such as color touch screens, custom application support, and cloud integration. Basically, printers and MFPs are being designed to look at behave more like smart mobile device platforms. Ricoh has pushed this concept one step further by allowing individuals to simply leverage their own smart devices as the interface itself.
Of course, Ricoh is not alone in this endeavor as other vendors are pushing similar strategies. Samsung, for example, recently introduced a slate of products that utilize the Samsung Smart UI, which is essentially a built-in tablet running the Android operating system. This type of functionality will allow businesses to leverage a single machine to create personalized experiences for individual employees, creating more efficient work processes and improving productivity. The customizable user interface also drives new service and revenue opportunities for vendors and channel partners alike. As a result, we would expect to see more vendors pushing the concept of the portable device interface.
Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. He is an independent market analyst and industry consultant with more than 25 years experience in the printing industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. In December 2012 he formed Palmer Consulting as an independent consultancy focused on transformation, mobility, MPS, and the entire imaging market. Palmer is a popular speaker and presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA).