Computer printers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and choosing the right one means you need to know what you are looking for. In this article, we build a list of items on how to choose the best printer for office.
Is your choice going to be made based off of price?
One Time Cost: Hardware
If budget is the main priority, you need to figure in all the costs of printing and not just the price of the printer itself. You won’t be saving yourself any money if you have to keep replacing the device, so sticking to a known brand is always a good decision. While value is not always based on price it is a good indication of what you might be in for.
On average, inkjet printers are cheaper than their laser counterparts.
Recurring Cost: Ink
Then there is the cost of ink. You can spend a little amount on a printer but be stuck paying a lot more for ink. Ink only goes so far when you use it a lot and you can gain more by getting ink that will last with good quality.
On average, ink costs for laser printers go from lows of 0.60 cents to 4 cents per page.
Inkjets, on the other hand, use black and color cartridges so you’ll be purchasing 4 or more tanks. The black ink costs between 1.5 cents to 6 cents per sheet, while each time you include the color that goes up, from about 6 cents to above 10 cents if you’re printing a whole colored page.
The reason the ranges are big is that it takes into consideration the brand of the ink and what you’re printing.
As a rule, check to see if there is a high capacity ink cartridge or toner available. This will save you money over time.
Will you be printing color, graphics, photos?
This is simple. Ask yourself, will you need to produce colored copies, graphics, photographs? If so the inkjet printer would be your choice.
However, if you need something that can handle heavy duty workload, prints fast, and mthe ajority of it in black and white copies. You’d be better served using laser printers.
Lasers are able to spit out between 15 pages to as many as 40 pages per minute and more. Compare this to an inkjet whose max printing speed is on average of 20 pages per minute, slower if colored prints are done.
However, many inkjets today have photo printing capability so you get realistic pictures when you use photo paper. Most lasers come in the monochrome variety so you only get black and white. While they can print graphics and images, these are produced in gray scale. Color laser printers are available but often start around the $250 level for the basic ones.
What type of Operating System do your computers use?
Once you’ve decided on budget and use, make sure the device you purchase is compatible with the computers you’re using. Some computer printers work with Windows, Mac and Linux, while others only connect to Windows PCs.
If you plan on using mobile devices, check for AirPrint compatibility, which allows you to print wirelessly from iOS gadgets like iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
Do you need a scanner, copier or fax machine?
Multi use printers, often referred to as multifunction or all in one’s come with scanner, copier and fax machines built into them. These include most inkjet printers on the market these days. While handy, be sure that you’re getting it because it fits your needs so you are not paying for features that are worthless to you.
Are you using more than one computer?
Networking has become a major part of any computer user because there are so many things you can do online. If you are planning to print from more than one computer or laptop, look for a printer that connects to a network.
At their most basic, printers come with USB connectors. This means you’ll need to connect your computer using a USB to the device itself to print. So one user at a time, going back and forth. This works if you’re the only one using it.
Network enabled printers, on the other hand, allow multiple users to use it at the same time. They come in two varieties, those that cater to Ethernet and those that are wireless.
Ethernet refers to the LAN cable, which you use to connect the printer to the network’s router. This allows all the computers on that network to use it.
Then there are wireless printers that don’t need any physical cable to connect to. Just install the drivers and they’ll be able to detect the computers and print.
Some devices offer all 3, USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Others only USB or only Ethernet or only wireless. So it can make a difference.
Making your Choice
Hopefully , this printer buying guide gives you a good idea on how to choose a printer. Because there are so many of them around knowing what you are looking for can make the search process a lot easier.