As there are various categories of printers and several kinds of printing technologies to choose from, selecting the right printer can be a challenging process. Printers are available in almost all shapes and sizes, ranging from compact travel companions to workhorses, while some are aimed towards photographers; others are for multitaskers for producing speedy bulk jobs. When it comes to finally choosing the right model of a printer or MFP, the choice is a combination of various factors such as anticipated volume of printing, type of documents to be printed, and the budget.
1. The right printer/MFP for your need.
Look for important features and determine what you want your printer to do. For occasional document printing such as letters, copies of Web pages etc., an affordable Inkjet or Laser printer will do fine. For high quality presentations and photographs consider buying a photo printer. But if your print volume is over 70-80 pages per day and you don’t need color, a fast laser printers will be best suited. For a SOHO environment, you need a combination of scanner, printer, copier, and fax machine i.e. a multifunction inkjet/laser printer.
2. Should I buy a single function printer or an MFP?
The first thing to know here is whether you want to do only printing or something more. MFPs combine photo copying, scanning, printing, and, in some designs, fax abilities in one device, making them perfect for home workplaces and small companies. Some MFPs offer extra features such as Web, Wi-Fi, mobile print capabilities – all easing the printing tasks. You can also get Automatic document feeder in some models for scanning, copying, double sided copying to let you save paper and money. These features are available in both lasers for quicker prints and inkjets for printing photos.
3. How to read printer specifications?
Understanding specifications are the most crucial aspect while buying any new printer. Do check for print resolution, operating cost, speed, quality of photo print, built-in memory card/pen-drive/USB slots, Network enabled/Wi-Fi, ease of use and warranty.
• Resolution – Resolution has a direct relation with text quality and graphics. Select a high-end model with a higher resolution if you will be printing plenty of photos, presentations, quality text and graphics. One thing to consider here is that paper quality also creates a difference. High quality coated paper can benefit most from higher resolutions.
• Print Speed – This specification calculates how many pages per minute (ppm) a printer can output, which is important if you are printing large numbers of black and white documents. If you need to print few pages, you should not look for a fast printer. On the other hand, if you have high volume of workloads to print, a high ppm printer would be good enough to ensure smooth document workflow. Also, if you want additional features of copying and scanning a higher ppm, cpm MFP is what you should go for.
• Quality – For great quality photo prints, the all-in-one photo inkjet printers with high resolution are the best.
• Ease of use – Go for the plug-and play printers that are easy to setup.
• Warranty – Check the manufacturer’s warranty, the longer the better.
• Operating Cost – Be sure to check how much it will cost you in long run. Calculate the cost of replacing ink cartridges and paper. At times, the cost of paper, toner and ink can amount to be more than the original cost of the printer within a year or so.
• Paper Handling – It includes paper sizes supported, input/output tray capacity to hold paper. For input capacity it is advisable to choose a printer in which you don’t have to refill it more than once a week. Mostly, all laser and inkjet print on standard paper(letter and legal sizes). But if you want to print large photographs or advertising graphics, a wide format printer will be best suited. Many devices are now equipped with ADFs, auto-duplexing features to save you time. So, select what meets your needs best.
• Consumables – Inkjets are least expensive printers but the replacement ink can be higher in price. Prefer to buy an Inkjet printer that has a separate ink tank for different colors (CMYK) so that you don’t need to substitute all others when one ink goes dry. Laser toner cartridges cost more to buy but are not replaced as often.
• Connectivity – If you regularly need to print photographs, go for printers with built-in memory card/pen-drive/USB slots. For use in office environment, go for built in Wi-Fi printers, mobile print capabilities that let you save time.
4. Inkjet vs laser?
Laser printers combine fast print speeds, sharp output, and a low cost per page. Like copiers, laser printers use a photographic drum to attract electrically charged toner and transfer it to paper, where the image is fused using a heated roller. Many cheaper laser printers are monochrome (black and white), best suited for printing text and simple graphics.
Inkjet printers comprise the bulk of the market simply because they can print just about anything: essays, pie charts, or glossy photos etc. But printed text from inkjets doesn’t always look as sharp as from a laser printer, they’re typically slower, and in some cases they cost more to keep running.
Unless you plan on printing page after page of school reports, inkjet printers usually make the best bet for home users due to their flexibility. If you have a high volume printing requirement and print them fast, a laser printer is worth considering. Toner cartridges are expensive, but produce a lot more prints than inkjet cartridges.
5. How important is mobile printing? Do I really need to take this into account when buying?
Leveraging the concept of mobility, even the most SME focused printers are now designed keeping the demands of mobile devices. Look for apps that work with Android, iOS, and other mobile devices for direct printing, or seek out a way to print via email (such as HP’s ePrint or Google’s Cloud Print), or a third-party technology such as Apple’s AirPrint. You might also see printers equipped with near-field communication technology from HP, Canon , Brother etc. has popped up. Through NFC, you can pair a mobile device to a printer, then use an app to send the print job (using local Wi-Fi).
6. Do I need a touch screen for Office Printers?
Managing the printer from the desktop can be a real pain at times. You either have to rely on the software developed by the manufacturer or need to dig in PC’s control panel and try to understand which settings you need to change to get your printer working as you want it to.
Touch-screen printers, for the most part, remove this hurdle, allowing you to manage your printer on the printer itself. This means you can set duplex mode, alter your printer network settings and check the status of your printer cartridges at the press of a button. You can also access apps directly from the touchscreen saving time, and scan directly to email and the cloud.
Another scenario can be when you want to print out some photos from your digital camera or smartphone but can’t be bothered to turn on your computer, hook up your device via USB and upload the photos to your computer for printing? Then you might just love touch-screen printing.
Touch-screen printers enable you to upload your photos and files directly from USB drive. Simply plug in the device your file is stored on, select the file you want to print and hit print on the touch-screen – simple!.Some touch-screen printers allow you to edit your photos on the printer itself. Now, you obviously won’t get the kind of editing options you’d find on photo-editing software like Photoshop, but you will be able to crop and resize.
7. What are multiple trays? Do I really need them?
Office printing needs can vary throughout the day, and multiple printer trays are a great time saver, allowing users to print to different paper sizes or types without needing to swap out printer stock. You can also make the printer’s multiple trays even more convenient by creating a custom configuration for each printer tray that specifies paper size and type. Thus if your printing requirement varies in page sizes, considering a printer with several tray options is best suited for your need.