How to Choose a Printer for College Students: A Buying Guide

Having your own printer as a college student means that you don’t have to go to an internet cafe or a library to print your work.

And this is a more efficient option that reduces time, stress, and potentially a lot of money.

But with all the options on the market, how can you tell exactly which one suits you best?

As a student, you’d be looking for a compact, fast, and affordable option.

But of course, these features have more depth to them and there are a lot more. So let’s dive into it.

Read more: Best Printers for College Students - Buyer's Guide.

1. The Type of Printer

There are many types of printers that focus on different functions, so you should evaluate your needs from your printer and choose the type based on that.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers are quite common and they’re the most versatile.

They’re compact and versatile as they’re able to print a wide variety of paper types and sizes including business envelopes, labels, scrapbooking paper, and much more.

Moreover, color inkjets can print anything from pie charts and glossy photos to essays and coupons.

I’d recommend an inkjet if your printing includes projects that require different materials, some photos, graphs, and so on.

Laser Printers

Laser printers are the ideal choice for printing large volumes of paper in a short time with a low cost per page.

They're the perfect choice if your printing will include essays exclusively as they're great for printing text documents.

And using them to print in black only would save  you so much of the running costs.

Photo Printers

These ones are more suitable for art majors and those who don’t really print text but work with high-quality photos.

2. Cost of Consumables

The tricky part about a printer’s cost is that it doesn’t lie in the initial up-front price but more in the consumables.

In other words, how much you’d have to spend on replacement cartridges, paper, and maintenance.

So before you go and buy your printer, make sure you’ve researched the cost of supplies that you’ll use in the long run.

You need to understand how long it would take before your initial cartridges run dry, how much you can print with one cartridge, and how much a new cartridge would cost.

In essence, buying a more expensive printer with a cheaper line of cartridges can save you more in the long run than buying a cheap printer.

There are a lot of thrifty ways on which you can save on consumables, so you can also check out whether you can get refilled or remanufactured cartridges for your printer.

On top of that, you can make use of the different ink plans and programs some brands have to offer.

For example, HP offers and “Instant Ink” program that automatically sends you cartridges once your ink runs lower as well as a fixed number of pages for a monthly fee.

Canon and Epson have “Ink tank” models which you can fill from small bottles of ink to reduce the cost per page.

Finally, some Brother printers come with several cartridges in the box to spare you the need to buy replacements for a considerable period of time.

3. Duplexing

Duplexing or two-sided printing refers to the printer’s ability to print on both sides of the page without the user having to flip the page over as that is done automatically by the printer.

Duplex printing is a very handy feature that is quite effective at saving paper and providing the user with convenience overall –so make sure your printer has it.

4. Connectivity and Networking

Connectivity options and networking capabilities are very important aspects of your printer.

It’s very common to use internet-based services to print such as Flickr, Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple AirPrint, and Facebook and that is to print from different devices including laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

That’s why you should make sure your printer can connect to various devices and via diverse means such as WiFi and USB ports to make the whole printing process a lot easier for you.

5. Sheet Capacity

A typical printer handles the thickness of 8.5 x 11 paper but can it handle glossy stock, envelopes, and index cards?

This is why you should consider the size of your input tray as the smaller it is, the more often you’d have to refill it.

A 250-page tray is ideal for cutting it down to one refill per month.

Some printers do come with an optional second tray that extends the input capacity, but that might increase the price of the printer and that’s not what’s best for a student.

6. Print Speed

There are a set of tests that are developed and licensed to vendors created by the International Standards Organization (ISO) to make sure that the printer meets certain requirements.

And the speed of the printer is measured in PPM (pages per minute) or IPM (impressions per minute) is one of the most important specs that should comply with these standards.

And that’s why you shouldn’t settle for less than 13 to 15 PPM speed for printing in black and 11 to 13 PPM speed for printing in color.

7. Print Resolution

A printer’s resolution is measured in DPI (dots per inch) which is basically a measure of the number of ink dots the printer can print over an inch.

Of course, the larger the number of dots, the higher the quality of your final print would be.

Make sure that you get as large a DPI as you can if you’re going to print detailed information like graphs, pie charts, and high-quality photos.

Generally, a 300 DPI resolution is the acceptable one.

Adam William
 

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