Product Reviews Reveal SOHO Printing Concerns

Ease of use, basic functionality can go a long way

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03/09/2021

Christine Dunne

 

I recently spent some time perusing Amazon product reviews to see what users are saying about new small office/home office (SOHO) printers in the market. Here a few takeaways:

 

Ease of Use is Paramount

It’s clear that people working from home value easy setup and a printer that won’t disconnect from the Wi-Fi network; Mac users seem particularly frustrated about compatibility issues compared to PC/Windows users. The quest for an easy-to-use print device makes sense: with no IT person on-site, home-office workers need to be able to handle device operation themselves (or at least troubleshooting with a help-desk technician).

 

Two Satisfied Printer Buyers on Amazon

 

Functionality Over Aesthetic                                             

While many of us care about having a sleek and beautiful smartphone, this isn’t necessarily the case for a home print device. The more important consideration is having a printer that will consistently work. While an attractive design (such as a small footprint) could contribute to the actual purchase decision, customer satisfaction is more dependent on ease of use and reliability.

 

Keypoint Intelligence’s Associate Director of A4 Hardware, Kaitlin Shaw, weighed in on this finding:

“Time and again, we find that reliability and ease of use are the most important factors for buyers—this is especially true for home office users. That’s why we weigh these areas so heavily in our testing and for our awards.”

 

Users Recognize SOHO Trade-Offs

Users complain about an array of SOHO device deficiencies, ranging anywhere from issues with the touchscreen to printing certain files too slowly. Overall, they seem to acknowledge that a lower-end printer won’t have everything they need and may require some trade-offs.


But Some Deficiencies are Quite Frustrating

However, certain limitations of SOHO printers/MFPs can drive the user mad. Things like a document scanner that always scans images crookedly, constant flashing lights (imagine this in your bedroom at night), and having to regularly reinstall software for proper printer use are just a few of them.

 

Technical Support Also Important

Ideally, a printer or MFP will function without issues, delivering beautiful output at the click of a button. But we know this isn’t always the reality. For times when problems arise, SOHO users value adequate technical support—whether it comes from easily understood paper instructions, simple online help, and/or responsive phone support.

 

User-Friendly Mobile Apps a Major Convenience

SOHO users appreciate being able to print from their phone/tablet without hassle. And this should be a straightforward endeavor, given they are most likely printing to one brand/device. For instance, they should know what app to use, see the settings they need, and be satisfied with the output. When an app works well, users celebrate it.

 

Security Mentioned in Context of Vendor Monitoring

In the Amazon product reviews, there were very few references to device security features, such as hard drive encryption or malware protection. Yet, several users voiced concerns about vendors monitoring their device activity through services like automatic supplies replenishment. While users can opt-out of these services, some feel it’s an extra headache.

 

Our Take

The point is that SOHO printers and MFPs are generally not purchased for a corporate office. Users of these products have habits/priorities that are shaped by working in their own space, limited  on-site IT support, and a potentially limited budget for print. Manufacturers must strike the right balance of appropriate features for SOHO products that keep/will keep the customer happy.

 

Subscribers to our Office CompleteView Advisory Service can log in to the InfoCenter to view more SOHO printing research (such as our Future Office primary research study conducted in the United States and Western Europe), including the brands and types of devices being purchased by home workers. In the fall, we will be publishing the results of an inaugural Market Insights study focused on SOHO print technology providers to this service. Not a subscriber? No problem. Just send us an email at sales@keypointintelligence.com for more info.