How to Buy a Printer

How to Buy a Printer

So you’ve made the decision to buy a printer only you’re not sure how to buy a printer that fits for your needs.  Not to fear – we’ve helped countless people choose the right printer for their lifestyle and needs.  Here are some real-life questions we ask every consumer in helping them to refine their search and find the most suitable match.

What type of printing do you do?

This is perhaps the most important question to ask since it will point you towards a specific printer technology – that is Inkjet printer vs Laser Printer.

Inkjet printers are capable of high quality photo printing since they mix ink liquid and specialized papers to render a photo quality image/print.  If you are looking to print high quality graphics and photos, you’re most likely in need of an inkjet printer.

Laser printers can offer decent quality colour prints suitable for general purpose colour printing such as printing PowerPoint slides.

Do you need a color printer?

If you only print text, faxes or anything that doesn’t really require colour, we would generally recommend you look into a laser printer.  Laser toner cartridges generally achieve three or more times the lifespan of ink cartridges while being comparatively priced.

What are the operating costs?

Printer manufacturers make a substantial operating profit from their consumables divisions.  They want you to purchase a printer that will make them the highest profit as soon as you run dry.  We assume you, like most of our clients are interested in a good quality printer that will also not have extremely high operating costs down the road.

One way of increasing their profits is to sell you a printer with a set of starter cartridges.  What are starter cartridges? There are two types we commonly see- cartridges that are simply half full to begin with or worse; cartridges with additional manufacturing designed to limit use (think of adding a dividing wall to the inside of a water bottle and then filling the bottle to capacity  – albeit of a smaller chamber).  Starter cartridges ensure you need to buy a new set of cartridges sooner.

That said, the only way to really ensure you have an economical printer is to calculate the total cost of ownership.  This is done by calculating how many printer cartridges you will need each year (based on their yield) and multiplying by how many years you plan to keep the printer and then by the purchase price of each cartridge.  Finally, add the purchase price of the printer.  This will give you a number that you can compare across different printers.  Printers that use cartridges that can be refilled or for which we carry a compatible product can help you find the most economical printer for your needs.

We also recommend you check the cartridge yield in relation to the amount of printing you do on a monthly basis (this is known as the monthly duty cycle).  You’ll want to ensure the printer you buy can adequately handle the amount of printing you do.

Do you need a single function printer or a multifunction (MFP) / “all-in-one”?

There a variety of single function printers available including portable printers, edible ink printers dedicated and near-dedicated photo printers,  label printers, wide format printers and fax machines to name a few.

Multifunction or all-in-one printers have become increasingly and refer to printers that are capable of more than one basic function (ie. scanning, copying, printing and faxing) – thus serving multiple needs.

In addition to the basic functionality, printers have an increasing set of features such as scan to email, scan to PDF, duplex printing (automatic printing on two sides of each sheet).  They also have an ever increasing amount of interfaces (methods of communicating with the printer).

What type of interface is needed?

Most printers have USB connectivity as a standard feature.  Web-enabled printers (also known as networked printers) have an Ethernet port allowing connection to your home or office network.  WiFi interfaces allow the printer to connect remotely to your home or office network or to connect directly with tablets or other WiFi enabled devices in some cases allowing you to print documents and images from handheld devices.  WiFi enabled printers are also particularly handy if the physical printer needs to be in a remote corner of your home or office where no wiring is available.

For Apple users, you may be interested in WiFi enabled AirPrint interface printers.  AirPrint enabled WiFi printers allow for instant printing from certain models of the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch without the need to install drivers or download software.

How Big a Printer Are You Comfortable With?

Make sure to check the printer’s physical size and footprint.  Some can fit on a desk while others are stand-alone items.  Be sure to pick one that fits the space available.

Is speed a consideration?

In general, it is if you print large documents in high quantities or if you print a significant number of documents.  The more you use the printer the faster you want it to be.  Laser printers tend to be faster than inkjets so if you’re printing long documents such as legal documents, you will likely be looking for a laser printer.

Need more help finding a suitable printer?  Call us at 877-446-5538.  If your ready to buy a printer, click the following link: buy a printer