- Printers Buying Guide
Printers Buying Guide
Printers Buying Guide
Almost everyone uses a printer at some point and if you have a computer in your home or at work then you will probably have a printer to accompany it. However, if you only print off the odd the letter you are not going to need the same machine as a business printing off hundreds off sheets per day. This will probably require you to ask two initial questions, what are you going to print? How often are you going to print it?
These two questions normal boil down to the choosing between the two main printing technologies, inkjet and Laser. Inkjet printers work on the principle that they spray tiny ink dots on the page to create text shapes or images, inkjets in this sense are thought of as more affordable when it comes to colour printing but they are often slower than laser printers. Most basic inkjets use three colours; cyan, magenta and yellow (CMY). This is used to create black but does not always produce very good results. In order to get a real black you will need a machine with a black (K) cartridge, it is also necessary to have all four colours for photo printing. For better photo printing some printers will also have an additional two cartridges; light cyan and light magenta. Printers with these additional options are often great for photos but bad for text, it is also worth considering that cartridge and paper costs will be high as these machines get through a lot of ink.
For office use it may also be worth considering an all in one style printer, this allows you to have one machine that will print copy and scan. This can be a great money saving machine although it pays to consider your needs. If you only require a monochrome printer but need to scan coloured images you will need machine with colour cartridges. Sometimes your varying needs means that an all in one printer will not be the most efficient solution so consider this before you buy an all in one.
For high quality colour printing you should turn your attention to colour laser printers, they also use the CMYK cartridges. The quality of both graphics and text is very high and these machines a significantly faster that a standard inkjet but this does come at an increased price. In the long term the initial cost may be offset in the increased efficiency and reduced cost of ink but this will only occur if you require extensive use of high volume printing.
If you’re printing needs do not go beyond black and white text then a monochrome printer is probably a better option. These will only print in black and white but the toners are cheaper and there is little need for any specialist paper. These are great options for basic hone and small office needs, as they are cheaper to run and buy than large colour laser printers.
The speed of a printer is also a very important fact but it is worth bearing in mind that the speed a manufacture claims a printer works is not normally speed it actually runs at in reality. The specified speed is more useful as a guideline to which printers are faster rather than the actually running speed. Printer speeds are rated in the number of pages that are printed per minute (ppm), on average you might expect an inkjet to print between 2-6 ppm and a laser to print 6-10ppm. Also take into account that printer speeds are often slower for colour items compared to black and white.
Max Black and White Speed:
Max Colour Speed:
The standard connectivity for most printers is USB connections to you computer but there are others as well; some inkjets will use different kinds of parallel connections. More up to date models can use wireless connection with infrared I/O ports. For network use between several uses then you might want to consider a printer with an Ethernet option. It is however important to check which interfaces each printer includes as not all come as standard. It is also important to consider the compatibility a printer has with your computer, Apple and Windows computers can differ in the way in which they format documents and so depending on the printers compatibility the final print quality may be altered.
When considering your printing needs it is worth considering the size and shape of the documents you want to print. For instance you may want to print envelopes, photo paper, card and some printers will also print on fabric. It also pays to check the maximum size of paper or media a printer can handle, if you need to print in A3 and the max size of your printer is only A4 you will run into problems.
Another good indication of printing quality is the resolution, put simple this is the number of dots that make up each inch of an image (dpi), so the higher the resolution the better the quality of the printed image. Resolution is measured in the horizontal and vertical, the stand resolution is 600×600. If you want photographic quality you will require a higher resolution, around the 1200 dpi mark. It is also important to consider the memory a printer has. Printers need memory to hold documents for printing, the higher the memory the higher the resolution that can be held. Often printer prices are lowered by reducing memory to only hold very low resolutions. Memory can be upgraded but check to see if you are restricted to using the manufactures brand.