What Printer is Right for Me?

By | May 9, 2012

You’ve finished typing out a report – or maybe just a letter to the bank – or you’ve spent the last few hours putting together photos and charts for a presentation. When you hit the print button, your printer jams (yet again) or something else goes wrong that leads you to finally decide: it’s time to get a new printer.

Yet walking into the printer aisle at the office supply store, or searching online for a new printer can be downright overwhelming. Ink or laser? Black and white or color? Scanner or no scanner? It’s not impossible, though, to find a printer that’s perfect for you.

Before you buy, ask yourself a few key questions about how you plan to use the machine. While you might not need all of the bells and whistles that come with high-end and expensive printers, even inexpensive printers can be a waste of money, if they don’t have the features you need. So assess the following before handing over your credit card:

  • Do you need to print in color? Most printers available these days print both black and white and color, but if you don’t generally print pages in color or print photos, you can save money by getting a black and white printing-only model. Not only is the printer cheaper, but you won’t need to buy printer ink cartridges.
  • What features does the printer have – and do I need them? Some printers just print, while others add functions to scan, copy and sometimes fax documents. If you already have a scanner and fax machine, or you don’t need those features, don’t pay extra for them; multi-function printers can’t do anything that a standard scanner can. Other features you might want to consider include double-sided printing and draft mode, or basic photo editing for printing photos directing from your camera or memory card.
  • What sizes does the printer print? Most printers will print letter and legal-size pages, but do you need any additional options? For example:  If you print business cards or checks you might want to consider a model that includes a feeder and settings for additional sizes.
  • What kind of ink does the printer use? Laser printers are generally faster and have better black and white print quality than inkjet printer, but they are more expensive and the cartridges cost significantly more than ink cartridges. However, if you plan to print professional documents, such as for a home business or high quality portfolios, a laser printer might be a good choice. As far as inkjet printers, consider whether the printer uses one cartridge containing all ink colors, or one cartridge for each color. Multiple cartridges can be cost effective and reduce waste, since you only have to replace each color as it runs out. If you do a lot of printing, look for a model that accommodates larger capacity cartridges. These cartridges hold more ink and don’t run out as often.
  • Do you need wireless capability? If you have several computers in your office, it might be more cost-effective to buy one wireless printer for everyone to share. If you’re short on space, or don’t want to add more cables to your already crowded desk, a wireless printer might be the best option for you.
  • Do you just print photos? If you only plan to print photos with your printer, consider an inexpensive snapshot printer. These printers do just one thing: print photos. In most cases, you can either hook the printer up to your computer or camera, or insert your memory card to create full color, high-quality prints for a fraction of the cost of professional processing. The drawback? Most snapshot printers can only print up to five inches by seven inches and can’t print anything else. However, when combined with an inexpensive monochrome laser jet for printing documents, a snapshot printer can be a good choice.

Whichever type of printer you choose to purchase, read the manual and learn the various functions that the machine offers. Even less expensive models have features that maximize efficiency and learning to use them can save you both valuable time and money.

About the Guest Post Author: This post was written and provided by Scott Williams.  Scott is an online consultant for www.cartridgediscount.co.uk  and has over 10 years of experience in the computer and IT industry.