Printer Buying Guide
A printer has become a very important computing accessory in the present times, primarily because of our increasing dependency on computers for assisting us in even the smallest of tasks. However, selecting a printer is not as easy as taking a print, since you need to keep in mind your needs and requirements before going ahead and taking the final call to buy a printer. Following is a list of all the types of printers for a better understanding.
Multifunction all-in-one printers attract a lot of attention due to the sheer multitude of tasks they let you perform with just a single device. A regular multifunctional device is actually an all-in-one printer scanner fax copier, as it can let you do all these tasks without any additional accessories. And to add on to the lucrative part of the deal, many leading brands offering their top printers at competitive and affordable prices.
However, a point to be noted here is that none of these can offer flawless quality in ALL the tasks they perform, i.e., one has to compromise on something or the other, regardless of the brand. For instance, a multifunction printer might be excellent for official purposes, but might not be able to print photographs that effectively. So, in case you are willing to sacrifice quality for utility and space saving, a multifunction all-in-one printer is the perfect choice for you.
Inkjet printers, despite being a relatively older option now, particularly since the inception of multifunction and laser printers, are still a tried and tested choice for many users. They are best for printing text sheets as well as graphics and images, and photos. It is also a good choice for those who already own a flatbed color scanner, since that would make the complete package equivalent to a multifunction printer, where you can scan, copy and print documents.
A point to remember while purchasing Inkjet printers is that you must opt for those capable of combining speed with quality. Further, the ‘page per minute’ ratings that are mentioned on printer catalogs are not standard terms, and every manufacturer has its own method of calculating the same. Hence, such ratings can’t be trusted, and an unbiased comparison can’t be done based on the same.
Another important information to be considered is that manufacturers have a very profitable revenue source in the form of printer ink cartridges’ refill. Hence, it is important that you purchase an unkjet only after checking that it gives you the best value for money in terms of the same.
Laser printers are the best for official purposes, like high-quality color pages, like presentations or brochures, but are more expensive as compared to inkjet printers. However, besides giving good quality in the aforementioned areas, a personal laser color printer is also faster than an inkjet, and delivers roughly double the speed of a regular inkjet. But in case you are thinking of printing photographs, the quality of the same is not the best in this variant.
In case you want to use the printer exclusively for printing the photographs you have clicked, there are dedicated photo printers that suit the purpose in the best possible manner, since they are made specifically for this purpose. Further, in many models, you don’t even need a PC to print photographs, since there are memory card slots, where you can insert the memory card of your digital camera, and take prints directly. There are also photo printers that have Bluetooth connectivity with cameras of certain brands, as well as LCD screens that allow you to rotate images for a better appearance. However, one drawback photo printers suffer is in the form of printing on plain paper, particularly in black-and-white.
Further, it is obvious that one wants supreme quality in all the photographs that have been clicked, but in case on already has a non-specialized printer, buying one exclusively for printing captured photographs depends completely on how frequently you need to print snapshots. One must also consider the additional costs apart from the printer. As mentioned above in the Inkjet printers’ section, ink cartridges are a significant part of manufacturers’ revenue; and in case of specialized printers, one needs to use high-quality paper, which further adds on to the costs. There are no standardized rates, as they vary according to photo printer paper sizes, and you must consider all these points before taking the call.
Now that you know all the kinds of printers available in the market, let’s take a look at what printer would best suit your requirement.
Home users are best off with an all-in-one inkjet printer, since they are also quite economical as compared to laser printers or all-in-one printers. However, the ink for this kind of printers can even cost more than the printer itself in the long run. Further, printers that are available for the cheapest price would normally be the ones that will require you to spend the most on their ink, as they generally operate with a single cartridge, and once even one of the colors’ supply is exhausted, the entire cartridge needs to be replaced. The tanks in these models are also smaller as compared to more expensive models, leading to higher per-milliliter cost.
If you are going to print a lot of text documents, a monochrome laser printer is your best bet, even if it is the lowest priced model. Lasers have a higher speed of printing and lower operation costs when compared to inkjets, since monochrome ink cartridges in lasers are very cost effective.
There are different requirements for all kinds of photography lovers; some want only personalized 4X6 or 5X7 sized prints, while others want high-quality ones. For the former, a snapshot printer is the best bet, as it uses print packs that are a combination of photo paper as well as ink cartridge. Generally, this kind of printers are one the inkjet platform, but some also use the dye-sublimation technology. As mentioned above, these printers might come with an LCD screen, basic photo editing tools, and slots for inserting digital camera memory cards.
However, if you don’t print snapshots often, this device is probably a very specialized one for you. Even a good quality inkjet printer can suffice for the same, as well as give you flexibility over reasonable printing on other platforms as well (text, normal graphics, black and white), which is missing in snapshot printers. Also, in case you are going for an inkjet version, choose the one that delivers a six or eight color output, as it gives better quality.
Even if you are looking forward to printing high quality photos, inkjet printers are your best bet for glossy photo prints, although it would take some time for the same. Also, you need to calculate your operational costs based on the photo printer paper size you are going to use, since the prices vary according to the same, as mentioned earlier as well.
Home office purposes
In case you have a business that needs to be operated from your home, comparing an all-in-one inkjet v/s the laser variant and choosing depending on your requirement is the right thing to do. An inkjet will help you bring really impressive color graphics on documents, while a monochrome laser printer is speedier and effective for text pages. So, it is important to know what kind of requirement would you have to decide accordingly. Further, there are many inkjet manufacturers that can claim that their products give 20-30 printouts in a minute, but that can in no way match up to the speed of a laser printer.
A multifunction all-in-one printer is the best choice for business uses, but there are some specifications that need to be taken care of. The model chosen must have a paper tray with a good capacity (one with the provision of multiple trays is going to be the perfect one), as well as be come with networking compatibility in order to be shared across multiple systems. Laser printers are also better due to the significant savings in terms of per page costs when compared to inkjets. Thus, in case you don’t specifically have to stress on high-quality printing, lasers are the right printers for business purposes.
So there you have it, a comprehensive study of all the available printer types and the kind of purpose they would solve best. It must be remembered that before one takes a final call on buying a printer, all of the above aspects must be paid due attention, since you must have one that suits your needs as well as fits into your budget.
Few of the recommended brands: