How to Choose a Printer – Simple Guide
Whether you’re looking for a printer for personal use, or for a small home business, there’s a printer for everyone. You just need to have a good idea about what you should be looking for. Different printers serve different purposes and market segments.
Read on to learn all about printers and pick the one that best fits your needs!
- The Best Printers for Mac
- The Best Small Business Printers
- The Best Home Office Printers
- The Best Printers for Home Use with Cheap Ink
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying a Printer
Many types and brands of printers are available on the market. New models are introduced on a monthly basis. With so many options to choose from, things can get confusing. There are a few factors to consider before buying a new printer.
Inkjet or Laser?
The first thing you need to consider before buying a printer is to make a choice between inkjet and laser printers. Laser printers are ideal if you’re going to print a lot of monochromic paperwork. A laser printer will give you smudge-free, high-quality prints that are unbeaten by inkjet printers. Moreover, laser printers are much faster than inkjet printers.
On the other hand, inkjet printers are more suitable for low volume printing and for personal use. They’ll also give you a better color output when printing in color.
Additionally, an inkjet printer will give you a higher photo quality when used with photo paper. There are also dedicated specialist photo printers that give you this glossy look of lab-processed photos.
If you need to scan and copy papers, an all-in-one printer is your best bet. It’s basically an inkjet or a laser printer that can scan and copy papers. They’re slightly more expensive than other printers.
Type of Ink
Printers are available in three ink cartridge configurations.
- Two ink cartridges: One black cartridge and an all-in-one color cartridge
- Four ink cartridges: One black cartridge, and three cartridges for cyan, magenta, and yellow. This is the CMYK color model.
- Inkwells: Instead of using ink cartridges, the printer draws ink from refillable wells.
Inkwells are considered the most economical option in the long run.
All printers on the market have wired connectivity. You can easily connect the printer to your computer using a USB cable.
In addition to wired connectivity, some models also offer wireless connectivity, including Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth is convenient for printing from your mobile devices.
Furthermore, with the increasing popularity of cloud computing, printers that support Google Cloud Print and Apple Airprint are becoming more common. You can print your papers even when you’re not at home; how cool is that?
Do you need to print two-sided pages? If the answer is yes, consider buying a printer with automatic duplexing. Automatic duplexing allows you to print on both sides of the page, so you don’t have to flip the page over.
Many printers come with an automatic document feeder (ADF) so you can scan double-sided pages too. Duplex printing is also a great way to cut paper costs in half.
Many printers are equipped with dedicated feed trays for printing on specialty papers, like legal envelopes and index cards, with variable sizes or weights, making them easier to deal with.
Furthermore, you need to pay attention to the size of the input tray. A smaller tray means you’ll have to keep adding papers all the time, while a 250-page tray will require you to do that less frequently.
Some printers offer an optional second tray, allowing you to use another paper stock.
Price & Supply Costs
Laser printers are usually more expensive than inkjet printers, especially if you opt for a color laser printer. However, the price per paper for inkjet printers is usually higher.
There are newer inkjet printers that offer impressive productivity levels, reaching up to 10,000 monochromatic printed pages, which translates to a cheaper price per page than some laser printers.
Don’t be tricked with the low prices of budget printers. Many companies offer extremely cheap printers but with high ink cartridges replacement costs. It actually makes more sense to buy a printer with a higher initial price tag and cheaper cartridges.
Research the cost of replacement supplies for the specific model you’re buying before making a decision. Also, consider refilling your own cartridges, which can be a much more economical alternative to buying new cartridges.
However, some printer manufacturers now attach chips to their cartridges with the sole purpose of tracking the life of printer toners, which makes refilling a more difficult option.
Finally, look for new models that offer economical ink plans. For example, HP’s Instant Ink program automatically delivers cartridges to your doorstep as soon as your ink starts running out, and promises a constant number of pages for a constant monthly fee.
Canon and Epson launched new “ink tank” models which you can easily refill using small ink bottles, significantly reducing the cost per page, while Brother offers some printers with extra cartridges in the box, so it takes quite some time before you have to refill your cartridges.
Compact vs Portable vs Desktop
Printers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you’re limited on space, there are many compact printers available. However, these printers usually don’t have scanning or copying capabilities. You can also opt for a portable printer if you’ll need to move it frequently.
On the other hand, some printers are much larger. They’re made for small offices and aren’t really suitable for home use.
What’s The Type Of Printer That Would Suit Your Needs?
There are a number of types but the most prominent are inkjet printers, laser printers, supertank printers, photo printers and instant photo printers, and the high-tech 3D printers.
They are generally lightweight and have a compact design.
They operate by spraying small droplets of ink directly onto the paper.
They’re suitable for printing a wide variety of paper types and sizes including scrapbooking paper, business envelopes, labels, and more.
All-in-one inkjet printers have 2 types: a 3-in-1 kind which allows you to print, scan and copy documents or a 4-in-1 kind that enables you to do the aforementioned things as well as faxing.
They’re hardworking machines that are able to print large volumes in a short time and at a low cost per page.
Similar to copy machines, laser printers use static electricity and toner (powder) instead of ink to print text and images onto paper.
If you know you’re not going to print anything but text documents, you can choose a laser printer that prints in black only to save up some money.
They're a modified version of the inkjet ones where they save time by using high-capacity cartridges so you can make fewer cartridge changes with large-volume work.
Some options use refillable bottles to reduce the cost, while some can go on for 2 years without needing more ink.
Photo Printers And Instant Photo Printers:
They’re designed to print high-quality photos similar in quality to those of professional printing services but at a lower or comparable cost and an immediate print.
They can print photos up to 4 x 6 inches in size, or wide format models designed to print media up to 24-inches wide. Some can print at 8.5 x 11 inches in size.
They’re printers that use materials such as plastic, power, or resin to bring 3D models designed on CAD (Computer-aided design) programs to life.
Of course, if you're a homeowner or work in an office, you're probably going to be using an inkjet or a laser printer. So let's dive more into the details of each.
The vast majority of monochrome laser printers are available for quite affordable prices, have a satisfactory print speed, and provide a lower cost per page than a color inkjet printer.
A color laser printer can be a good option if you want to print in multiple colors, but their cost per page can significantly exceed that of a color inkjet's.
There are lots of variables to be able to recommend a specific printer that’s suitable for you. It all depends on your needs and your budget.
A laser printer would be great for office use, or if you’re a student who regularly prints assignments and research papers. If you’re a digital photographer, get a specialist photo printer for the best possible photo quality.
All-in-one printers provide you with copying and scanning capabilities, making them a great option for general home use, but don’t expect super high-quality prints out of these. They’re also suitable for small businesses.