Xerox Reveals its Biggest Product Blitz Ever with New VersaLink, AltaLink ‘Workplace Assistants’

Xerox AltaLink C8035 touchscreen.

At its offices in New York City today, Xerox announced the largest product launch in its history, a mixture of 29 new A3 and A4 color and black-and-white copier/MFPs and printers designed to transform MFPs and printers from imaging hardware into “workplace assistants” and serve as inputs into document workflows. The firm also emphasized that the new hardware is mobile and cloud ready – so that users can print, scan and share documents from their mobile devices – and also stressed its partnerships for developing custom apps for document workflows and more, showing for instance, a partner-developed voice-recognition app for operating Xerox hardware via voice commands (see below).

During a live Webcast, Xerox executives noted the challenges of selling more advanced office-imaging equipment, which requires educating both the market and the Xerox sales force. “This is no longer about selling printers, no  longer about speeds and feeds, it’s about selling workflow automation…and the sales force must be able to frame it properly,” noted one Xerox executive. “Basically we’re going to bring the MFP into the heart of the business operation  It’ll be a point of access to (document) workflows, a means to connect to systems that don’t talk to each other.”

All of the new hardware, which will be available in the second quarter, is based on Xerox ConnectKey platform and incorporates common controller technology for consistency in the line. The new hardware also incorporates Xerox’s Extensible Interface Platform (EIP) for incorporating add-on solutions from both Xerox and its partners.

The new lineup also features one-touch access to cloud-based document-storage and sharing Web sites such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Office 365 , and One Drive from the touchscreen, personalized workflows; and multi-layered security.

The new hardware was designed for a common user experience across the line, including a new touchscreen with tablet-like swipe-tap-and-scroll operation and that’s similar among different models, from A4 to A3, eliminating users having to re-learn operation. The touchscreen is also said to feature much more streamlined operation; for instance, scan to email takes four steps, while competitors’ products typically take six steps. Streamlined operation also includes the ability for MFPs to simultaneously scan, print, and fax.

Xerox has coined new brand names for the MFPs and printers – a VersaLink series for smaller-size businesses and workgroups, and an AltaLink series for larger workgroups and enterprises, with print speeds ranging up to 90 ppm for some models. It says that all of the new hardware is configured to be compatible with managed print services (MPS), including A4 hardware.

VersaLink MFPs and Printers

VersaLink MFPs and printer are designed for small businesses and workgroups, are based on a common controller, and consist of 19 printers and MFPs, 12 of which are A4, and seven of which are A3. They include both black-and-white, as well as color models.

With the VersaLink series, Xerox says it’s improved print and scan speeds, and connectivity includes wired  Ethernet, USB 3.0 port, Wi-Fi 802.11n wireless connectivity, and Wi-Fi Direct with an optional Wi-Fi Kit. There’s also support for Near Field Communication (NFC) for tap-to-print-and-scan with NFC-enabled mobile devices.

VersaLink devices are in part designed for smaller businesses that may not have dedicated IT staff. As such, they feature installation wizards that guide non-technically-trained users through setup. Other features include previewing scans and faxes on the touchscreen; making scanned documents searchable with OCR software; and direct access to cloud services (Dropbox,  Google Drive, and One Drive) at the touchscreen, which itself can be customized.

The VersaLink MFP touchscreen. Visit Xerox here to operate a simulation, and here to see a video of the touchscreen in operation.

VersaLink B405 MFP, which starts at $699, and is an A4 MFP rated at up to 47 ppm.

Currently available information for VersaLink standalone printers consists of information for:

  • The VersaLink C400, which starts at $429, and is a color printer that supports letter-legal/A4 media, and is for work groups of from two to 10 users. Recommenced monthly print volume is up to 5,000 pages, and black/color print speed is up to 36 ppm.
  • The VersaLink B400, which starts at $449, is a black-and-white printer that supports letter-legal/A4 media, and is for work groups of from three to 15 users. Recommended monthly print volume is up to 12,000 pages per month, and print speed is up to 47 ppm.

Currently available information for VersaLink MFPs consists of information for:

  • The VersaLink B405, which starts at $699, and is a black-and-white MFP that supports letter-legal/A4 media, and provides copy, print, scan, fax, email, and cloud connectivity. It’s suitables for work groups of from three to 15 users. Recommended monthly print volume is up to 12,000 pages, and print speed is rated at up to 47 ppm.
  • The VersaLink C405, which starts at $709,  is a color MFP that supports letter-legal/A4 media and provides copy, print, scan, fax, email, and cloud connectivity. It’s designed for work groups of from two to 10 users. Recommended monthly print volume is up to 5,000 pages, and black/color print speed is up to 36 ppm.

Visit Xerox here for more information on the VersaLink line.

AltaLink MFPs

AltaLink A3 MFP for enterprises.

The AltaLink series includes 10 A3 MFPs designed for larger workgroups. It includes five black-and-white A3 MFPs and five color MFPs, which refresh Xerox’s mid-range portfolio. As more enterprise-oriented MFPs, As enterprise-oriented MFPs, they feature high security standards, larger paper capacities, and advanced document-finishing options.

They’re said to be fully mobile-device compatible, and provide cloud-access from the touchscreen. They also feature a customizable 10″ touchscreen; and wired, WiFi, WiFi Direct, and NFC connectivity.

Key features include:

  • An added layer of security through Xerox’s partnership with McAfee. With McAfee white-listing technology, administrators specify only the software that can be downloaded to the MFP, preventing installation of malware. The MFPs are also said to feature the highest level of data encryption, as well as secure access with integrated RFID card reader and support for over 90 user-authentication cards. Also available is auditing of device-access attempts. For more on Xerox security, visit Xerox here.)
  • A Remote UI, so that  IT administrators can remotely log into device from a tablet or PC even while the MFP is being used.
  • Created by Xerox or partners, built-in apps from the Xerox App Gallery that are designed to help organizations create custom workflows. These workflows might involve filing patient records, organizing contract, and retail invoicing, so that steps involved can be minimized.
  • Access to cloud repositories, such as like Dropbox, Office 365, and Google Drive from the touchscreen.

AltaLink touch screen.

AltaLink touchscreen; from the touchscreen, users can scan to and print from accounts at Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, etc.

Operating the new Xerox touchscreen.

Visit Xerox here for more information on the AltaLink series.

App Development

All 29 new products incorporate Xerox’s Extensible Interface Platform open platform for incorporating Xerox and third-party apps.

Three categories of apps are available:

  • Information apps that are used to convey information on the touchscreen, such as meeting announcements. Apps can be static or interactive.
  • Support apps that show users at the touchscreen where to call to purchase a toner cartridge, or how to place a service call.
  • Workflow apps that automate a document workflow, typically condensing many steps into fewer, faster steps.

Xerox executives explained that in order to enable the creation of apps, a consistent, open software platform is required, and that it’s also partnering with various partners, including those who are experts in document-management solutions such as Nuance Communications and others.

It also says it’s working to bring its resellers into app-design, as resellers typically have greater contact with customers and end-users. “Partnerships are the future for our industry,” explained a Xerox executive. “We want to bring our resellers into the design channel – they know what their customers need. We want resellers able to customize our technology. “

Apps can be developed via Xerox’s App Studio (no programming skills are required), or via the PAB Developer (programming skills are required). To see currently available apps, visit Xerox here.

AltaLink touchscreen customized for a healthcare application.

Some apps developed by Xerox partners include a Firmware Connect App. With this app,  when new Xerox firmware for the MFP or printer is released, it’s automatically updated to the MFP or printer, so that the customer doesn’t have to perform any tasks.

Also new is a Voice Recognition App by partner Vision-e, a certified Xerox Personal Application Builder Authorized Developer. Using Amazon’s Alexa voice-recognition, with the Voice Recognition App, users can tell the MFP or printer via voice commands to perform various tasks, such as to make double-sided copies, order supplies, submit a service call, etc. Also available from Vision-e for ConnectKey-enabled Xerox MFPs is an Internet app that enables users to use the MFP’s touchscreen for Web navigation and browsing.

Channel Partners

Xerox is banking on the new offerings to bolster its various channel partners – which it intends to significantly grow, reporting last month that it intends to spend some $100 million in 2017 to acquire multi-brand dealers and convert them into Xerox-only dealers.

In a prepared statement, Xerox North America Operations President Mike Feldman stated: “Providing our channel partners, including multi-brand dealers, with the right combination of technology, software, and services to grow their businesses is among the biggest priorities for Xerox. Seventy-five percent of SMB sales are made through indirect channels, and this launch underscores our commitment to R&D, product delivery, and channel support that will lead to the long-term success of our partners.”

The new AltaLink and VersaLink product launch – along with light-production printers, managed print services, and workflow automation solutions. will provide resellers with a complete line of workplace technologies, maximizing their revenue streams, according to Xerox.

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