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In a four-week trial, PrintITonly scratched the surface of what’s possible with Sharp’s new cloud-enabled A4 colour MFP

Sharp’s new A4 MFP, the cloudenabled MX-C301W, is the perfect companion to large departmental devices in mixed deployments of A4 and A3 devices – it boasts a robust durable design that enterprises and MPS

 reliable, belt-andbraces workgroup MFP that offers all the functionality you would expect from a modern A3 device
reliable, belt-andbraces workgroup MFP that offers all the functionality you would expect from a modern A3 device

providers demand and, for ease of use, has the same user interface as Sharp’s A3 machines. It is also a highly productive device for smaller businesses/departments that might not need or have room for an A3 MFP.

Kingswood Media, publisher of PrintIT, falls into the second category. There is no room in our Sevenoaks offices for a large A3 device, yet we still have a requirement for enterprise-class functionality and fast print speeds to cope with times of peak activity, including the run-up to exhibitions when we need to produce large numbers of flyers and promotional material within a short timeframe. With colour and mono print speeds of 30 pages per minute and a 3GB memory for processing complex jobs, the MX-C301W easily coped with peaks in our workload, while the 7in colour touchscreen with clear lay-out and intuitive operation minimised time spent at the device when scanning and copying. Staff from our Winchester office valued the wireless and USB Direct print capability, which enabled them to print from laptops, smartphones and USB sticks when attending weekly meetings in Sevenoaks.

Print quality is best described as ‘business quality’ i.e. perfect for everyday business applications, such as letters, invoices, reports, proofreading etc. For jobs that required the highest quality output, we continued to use our own specialist printer – not that Sharp would ever promote the MX-C301W as a graphics device.

What it is is a reliable, belt-andbraces workgroup MFP that offers all the functionality you would expect from a modern A3 device, from 4-in1 functionality (print, copy, scan, fax) and a 250GB hard drive for storing documents and forms to encrypted scanning and secure Follow Me printing with five-digit user authentication.

Much of this functionality was surplus to our requirements but would be very welcome – if not essential – in larger businesses, especially those with active print management policies or a requirement for strict data security such as in the finance and healthcare sectors.

That said, one feature that we would certainly have made more use of had we had the machine for longer was cloud connectivity. Like many organisations, Kingswood Media has a policy to reduce the amount of paper circulating around our business. We still print to share information and ease collaboration, but at the end of each day we scan what we want to keep and recycle the rest. This maintains a neat working environment and ensures valuable space is not taken up with paper filing.

As standard, the MX-C301W lets users scan to e-mail, FTP server, network folder and USB memory. With the addition of the optional Sharp OSA solutions platform, it also connects directly to cloud applications including Cloud Portal Office, Sharp’s collaborative storage and workflow solution. The ability to scan documents to (and print from) a portal that can also be accessed remotely (i.e. when working from home) and by staff in the Winchester office has obvious benefits.

Enterprises will love the Sharp MX-C301W for its functionality and its ability to be integrated into an existing fleet as part of a more balanced deployment of A4 and A3 devices. Smaller, growing businesses, like Kingswood Media, may not yet need all the functionality on offer, but will take reassurance from the MFP’s fully integrated design, which is more robust than many A4 devices; from its ease of use, including installation; and a feature set that has the flexibility to meet evolving needs.

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