What Are You Looking For In A Printer?

When it comes to purchasing a printer there can be a bewildering array of features and technologies involved. Often you may find there are far too many questions you simply do not have the answers for.

The idea behind writing this Printer Buying guide is to provide the answers to as many of these pre-purchase questions as we can for you. That way you will be making a more informed purchasing decision.

Since you last purchased a printer technology may have advanced considerably and your current printer manufacturer may no longer be making printers anymore! (In 2012 both Lexmark and KODAK announced that they would no longer be making inkjet printers for the home user. You can read more in this blog post – click here.)

What Is New In Printing?

In the last 18 months several trends have been appearing on even the lower cost printers. Much of this has been driven by increased completion amongst the “big three” (Epson, HP and Canon) as they compete for sales in the dwindling home user market.

So today you will see:

– Touchscreen Interfaces
– Wireless Printing
– Double Sided Printing
– Higher Quality Printing
– Faster and Quieter Printing

…in addition multifunction printers (MFPs), also known as all-in-ones (AIOs) are very popular today as they combine the features of a scanner and copier with a printer. Some models will also have a built in fax.

Some of the Typical Questions You Will Need To Ask Yourself:

– Will I be printing mainly documents or photos?
– Is regular colour printing a requirement?
– Do I need scanning and copying features on the printer?
– Paper Size? Do I require any wide format printing (up to A3)
– Am I a home user with basic needs or a more demanding home office/large office user?
– Do I have a limited budget to purchase the printer?
– Are the on-going costs of printing a major factor?
– Have you already decided on a type of printer such as a laser, or am I willing to explore the options available to me?
– Do I need to share the printer with other on a network?
– Is an additional paper tray required due to the volume of printing?
– Do I require double sided printing?
– Will I be printing from a mobile device and so require wireless connectivity?

…knowing the answer to these questions in advance, will help you purchase the correct printer for your needs.

Categories of Printer Technology

Broadly speaking there are 5 main types of printer that you can purchase today.

Inkjet Printers – The most common printer seen in the home and small office.
Laser Printers – Used by large companies and the home worker alike, typically lower running costs when printing large volumes.
LED Printers – A type of printer similar to a laser printer. LED technology uses a light-emitting diode array as a light source in the print head. Mainly manufactured by Brother and OKI.
Solid Ink Printers – A way of using heated wax instead of ink or toner. Introduced by Tektronix in 1989 but heavily promoted by Xerox after purchasing the company in 2000. As colour lasers have got cheaper and now produce better quality images than they used too, solid ink has not grown market share as hoped by Xerox.
Gel Printers – First appeared around 2007 with printers made by Ricoh. Aimed at the inkjet market, the technology is fast and economical. However, they have struggled to make any headway in the crowded marketplace.

Wireless Printing Technologies

Now we can look at a feature that is becoming more important to end users and that is the ability to print wirelessly. There are a few different wireless technologies available:

ePrint – Hewlett Packards name for its wireless print solutions
AirPrint – Apple’s wireless print technology, but features on other vendors printers too
Wireless Direct Printing – A simple protocol from HP that lets you print from your phone to your printer
Google Cloud Printing – A popular solution for printing anywhere to your printer, using an Internet connected browser
Mobile Apps –

More to write!

You Might Also Like To Read:

Introducing HP ePrint
Inkjet or Laser Printing: Which is More Cost Effective?
Printing With Fire Instead Of Ink
What Does the Weight of Paper Mean?
Ink Cartridges: Original, Compatible or Recycled?
HP PageWide Technology
Printer Maintenance Tips

marc liron

As an IT industry expert (and Microsoft MVP 2004-2010) Marc Liron loves to write about technology and gadgets. On this blog he hopes to write the kind of articles that customers will both find helpful and informative. If you have an idea for an article then please get in touch!

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