Bett 2018: Education Is Always a Good Thing

Is the Print Industry Vertically Challenged?

02/07/2018

 

In our recent trips to the Bett (British Educational Training and Technology Show) event, we’ve seen print management systems that aim to restrict printer use and abuse while cutting costs, special media to make items such as classroom displays and banners, and printing hardware. There has even been software to help ease the burden of hard-pressed teaching staff, including KYOCERA’s Teaching Assistant embedded application, which uses optical mark recognition (OMR) to grade pupils’ tests in no time at all.

 

It makes absolute sense for companies in our industry to market themselves to the needs of different verticals, as with just a bit of marketing effort a business can give itself the edge over its competitors, make more money, and prosper. Sadly, relatively few OEMs and large ISVs take stands at this show, but that’s understandable given that Bett is a general education event and digital imaging companies must compete with firms from myriad other industries for floor space.

 

Two OEMs were pleasingly conspicuous at ExCel London: Epson and HP.

 

HP’s print hardware was front and centre, with models such as the PageWide Pro MFP 477dw, PageWide Enterprise Color Flow MFP 586, and PageWide Pro MFP 777z on display.

 

Although there was no solution-focused promotion, HP did say that it would emphasize the devices’ fast speed, low total cost of ownership, and low energy consumption if asked how it would market the devices to schools, colleges, and so on. There were, however, whisperings that software would be the next big thing for HP. Let’s hope so, because a holistic combination of software and hardware could be a boon to educators and their administrative staff.

 

The HP PageWide Enterprise Color Flow MFP 586 has a pop-out keyboard to make data entry easy.

 

The PageWide Enterprise Color Flow MFP 586 drew attention because of its snazzy built-in keyboard, which pops out of the front panel, as well as its colourful, well-designed interface. Meanwhile, the touchscreen dominated the PageWide Pro MFP 777z, which was a joy to use and is something I’d very much like to get in our solutions lab.

 

The HP PageWide Pro MFP 777z’s large touchscreen is easy to understand and use.

 

Compared to last year, where it demonstrated how special media can be used to enhance classes and classrooms, Epson took a more conservative approach. There were still many devices on display, including the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C869RD3TWFC that employs ink tanks instead of cartridges for much longer durations between consumables changes, thus reducing downtime. Epson’s goal was to express how its inkjet devices provided great total cost of ownership thanks to very low power consumption (the stand had a demo station where attendees can see an Epson device’s real-time power consumption compared to that of its rival), low consumables consumption, and fast output speed. As with HP, there were no solutions demonstrated, although an Epson rep did mention the Epson Print Admin print management platform during conversation, and we’ve no doubt that it or a more appropriate solution would be mentioned to a buyer interested in purchasing some Epson devices. Again, we’d prefer to see a more joined-up solution-focused approach to product demonstrations, something that shows exactly how Epson’s devices can benefit schools.

 

The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C869RD3TWFC is a good-looking printer, but it looks even better with a Buyers Lab Certificate of Reliability on it.

 

As ever, Bett was hugely enjoyable and educational, but it’s too bad that there weren’t more OEMs and ISVs from our industry in attendance. Sad to say, many people still view document imaging products simply as a means of printing and scanning—it’s up to us to show them that tools such as OMR, zonal OCR, and MFP-embedded software can save schools and their staff time, money, and effort. Both print hardware and software are still vital resources in educational establishments, and Bett is an ideal place to demonstrate the many ways in which they can make processes for teachers and school administration more efficient and less expensive.

 

 

 

Andrew Unsworth
Associate Editor
Andrew joined BLI in 2015 with over a decade of print and web publishing experience as both staff and freelancer. His role involves writing solutions, custom test and public lab test reports, as well as web content.