The Sharp AL-2040 is a premium monochrome multifunction business machine that prints, copies, and scans, but does not fax or have PC-fax capabilities. It prints at a 600 dpi resolution and a rate of 16 pages per minute. It copies at a rate of 20 pages per minute. First copy time is 8 seconds in normal mode, but it can be as much as 25 seconds to first print if in preheat mode. The AL-2040 has a 50 sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), and it has two 250 sheet paper input trays. The AL-2040 can connect to the network via Ethernet or high-speed USB, and it has full plug-and-play support for all Windows versions after Win95.
With the AL-2040, Sharp does an excellent job of blending modern style with traditional business practicality. The machine is essentially a cube with a business white colour scheme, but Sharp uses rounded corners, sleek styling cues and azure-coloured plastic to great effect. The paper input trays are at the bottom, and they are easy to access and load. The copier/scanner lid is substantial but not overly heavy, and the control panel is sophisticated and highly customisable via programmable buttons. You can also access the interface and most functionality via the network. Full scanning functionality does require a USB connection.
The Sharp AL-2040 is a world-class business machine that delivers on all of its promises in terms of performance. Cartridge Save also provides excellent value in their high-yield Sharp AL-2040 toner cartridges and drums, which gives this machine excellent cost-per-page. The AL-2040 also supports full colour scanning via USB, and while a tad slow at it, the quality of the scans and prints are impeccable. The AL-2040 is also energy efficient, and it draws less power than most business machines in this class do.
The two big disadvantages with the Sharp AL-2040 are the lack of duplex support and the lack of fax and PC-fax capabilities. The AL-2040 does handle double-sided copies, but you'll have to handle the double-sided prints manually. It isn't too bad for the occasional job, even a large one, but it is a deal-breaker if you require frequent duplex printing. As for fax and PC-fax, these technologies are on the way out, and we see more and more companies leaving them out of their new designs. But we'd at least like to see an upgrade option for the company that still uses the technology.