Sharp’s new range of A3 colour MFPs is one element in a growing ecosystem of connected devices for the smart workplace
Over the last few years Sharp has been taking advantage of parent company Foxconn’s manufacturing capabilities and financial muscle to expand its product portfolio and provide customers with an array of smart office products for the future workplace, including monitors and large format displays, interactive tabletop displays, conferencing solutions, notebook computers, MFPs, air purifiers and even office furniture. On the debit side, it recently pulled out of the EPOS market.
Two investments have given Sharp’s strategy real weight – the acquisition of Toshiba’s mobile computing business in 2018, quickly rebranded as dynabook, which has given it a foothold in the mobile computing market, and, in 2020, the taking of a majority 66% stake in a joint venture with NEC Display Solutions, which has since led to the unification of the Sharp and NEC display portfolios under the umbrella of Sharp NEC Display Solutions, shown publicly for the first time at ISE 2022 in May.
As a result of this investment Sharp is now able to offer an extensive range of meeting and collaboration technologies; flexible large format displays with integrated computing options; dvLED solutions for use in retail signage and the transportation sector; projectors; and high-end innovation in 8K that enables users to present content in precise detail.
Sharp has also been diversifying at a national level. In the case of Sharp Business System UK (SBS UK), this has manifested itself in the acquisitions of MFP dealer Midshire in 2017 and two years later that of Complete I.T., which added IT services to Sharp’s direct product offering and has since provided a template for similar diversification in other European territories.
These activities will help Sharp evolve its product offering in years to come but for the time being – and 50 years after the launch of the first Sharp copier – MFPs remain Sharp’s bread and butter, central to its ecosystem of smart office devices/services and a focus of continued investment and product development. A case in point is the company’s new Future Workplace A3 MFP Series.
This 15-strong range of colour MFPs with speeds of 26 ppm to 65 ppm breaks new ground with a world-first native Microsoft Teams connector, meaning employees can easily print from and scan to their Teams channels and folders, plus compatibility with Sharp’s new Synappx Go mobile app, which enables contactless print, copy, scan from/to smartphones and integration into popular cloud storage platforms. Users can also print wirelessly from any Wi-Fi enabled laptop, tablet or smartphone natively, without the need to set up a wireless LAN.
For ease of use, the customisable 10.1-inch tiltable LCD touchscreen control panel features the same user interface as Sharp’s current range, providing a consistent user experience and enabling those already familiar with Sharp devices to get to work right away. For future-proofing, the application portal provides software updates and cloud connector apps to ensure devices are always up-to-date.
Another key selling point of the new range is state-of-the-art security to protect devices and the data they process. BIOS-based security stops a device from starting if any errors are found, while pre-installed root certificates prevent any unauthorised use of devices. The new devices also integrate with broader security strategies and include BitDefender anti-malware support, making it easier for IT teams to keep data, devices and networks secure.
In addition, Sharp claims that the new MFPs provide up to 27% more energy savings than previous generations, while smart diagnostics help to maintain productivity and minimise waste.
Synappx Collaboration Hub
Complementing these new devices (and others in its range), Sharp has launched a smart subscription service that aims to simplify the meeting experience and address the challenges of hybrid meetings. In a recent survey conducted by Sharp, 47% of office workers said they find it confusing to have to use multiple video conferencing platforms.
Sharp’s new Synappx Collaboration Hub uses the power of the cloud to provide users with an easy to use interface to run any type of meeting, with streamlined access to shared documents via web platforms and meeting solutions. It is designed to give users a consistent user experience when using different brands of personal or in-room video conferencing devices or accessing and sharing documents via different cloud database services.
Users can automatically start a video conference, retrieve content stored in multiple cloud storage services and share it on a room display and, with the Synappx Go app, control all meeting processes directly from a smartphone.
By providing a seamless bridge between cloud storage, MFPs and displays, the Synappx Collaboration Hub is a good example of how Sharp can use its expertise in different areas to connect smart workplace devices and remove the barriers to efficient and productive working.