5 Point Printer Buying Guide

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With a massive selection of printers in the market, choosing the right printer for your home or office needs can be an overwhelming process! That doesn’t mean that you can’t simplify that process though. Below, you will find a basic but effective printer buying guide that will let you buy that perfect printer that fulfills all your specific and unique printing needs.

1. Inkjet or laser printer?

The first question that hits a user while planning to buy a printer is whether to buy an inkjet or laser printer. The answer is simple. It entirely depends on what and how much you will print.

Inkjet printers are ideal for home use. They can print any kind of material including text, pie charts, glossy pictures and others. The printed text is not as sharp as those from a laser printer. If you don’t intend to print a lot of material then, inkjet printer is a good choice. For home users where the volume of data to be printed is less, maintaining an inkjet printer is easier.

Laser printers score well for business use where the volume of data is large. They can print large volumes of data quickly, reliably and are cost effective. The printed text does not run when it gets wet in laser technology. The cost of replacing a laser toner can be high when compared to inkjet cartridges which make it a poor option for home use.

Today’s inkjet printers are much better than their predecessors. The speed of printing has improved and for small business or office, the cost per page is lower.

2. Single or multi-function printer?

Printers come with additional capability such as scanning, faxing and copying providing much more than mere printing facility. It makes sense to pay a little more and get a multi-function printer that can cater to your needs of printing as well as digitizing documents.

Unless you are very sure that all you will do is printing, it is better to get a multi-function printer. These printers will be quite handy when you work with multiple file types.

3. Connectivity options 

USB has been the standard interface to connect printers to computers.  Mobility becomes difficult with USB connections as it requires the printer to be placed close to the PC. For an office setup, where there is need for multiple computers to access a printer, you must consider printers with Ethernet port.

Alternatively, in office setup, using a printer with Wi-Fi capability makes pairing a device is easy. In today’s world with more than one computer at home, it is important to consider printers with Wi-Fi capability.

Even if you are buying a printer for a single PC at home, it is still important to check for Wi-Fi capability. With the prevalence of tablets and mobile devices, you will definitely see a need to print a job from a remote device.

You can also look for Bluetooth connection options in printers to print photos directly from a phone or tablet.

4. Printing costs

Apart from the initial investment cost, a printer has recurring maintenance cost which is an important factor to consider while purchasing. The cost of ink cartridges and toners are high. You must find out the printing yield of a particular printer model before making a decision.

You can calculate the printing yield by dividing the number of pages an ink cartridge can produce by the price of the cartridge. Inkjet printers have an average price of 20 cents per page which is slightly more than a laser printer.

Laser printers require regular maintenance. If you don’t have regular printing job then, laser printers will require replacement of parts and fuser cartridges. The cost of a toner is also higher than an ink cartridge. The printing cost will be significantly lower in a laser printer only when the printing job is more.

Talking about costs, here’s an article that can educate you on how to save on printing expenses.

5. Built-in memory, ideal for photo printing

Consider a printer with in-built memory slot, PictBridge or cloud support if you want to print photos. PictBridge port and Bluetooth capability will allow you to print photos directly from your camera or smart phone.

Cloud-based support will enable you to print photos directly from the internet through apps such as Google Cloud, Dropbox and more. Many printers these days allow you to access internet based features such as Flickr, Facebook and others to print your photo streams directly.

Armed with this new knowledge, you can now hopefully nail that printer purchase, buying a printer that will exactly match your needs.

P.S. Read this article if you are interested in specifically buying a printer for your Mac.

About the Author
Michelle, author at Mach Machines. A tech lover and an insatiable latte drinker. Michelle blogs about improving the personal computing experience.

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