How to pick the right printer

Tech Today with Ken May

Hopefully November is treating you all well! One item that folks often purchase during Black Friday is a new printer. Printers are often deeply discounted as a loss leader to get people in the store, but it may not be worth it, even at a heavy discount. Finding the right printer for your needs is critical, or you’ll just be wasting money, and not getting the service you need from it.

The first step is to understand what you will primarily be using it for. Are you a photographer? A teacher? A mechanical engineer? Different technologies come into play for each of these use cases. If you want something inexpensive, prints ok color, but only handles small amounts of printing, then an Inkjet printer is probably a good choice. For better photo picture quality, choose one with pigment based inks, such as those by Epson. If you need high volume, fast printing, definitely go with a laser printer.

Costs for the printers themselves have come down quite a bit, but ink and toner is still very expensive. If color isn’t necessary, you may be best suited by an inexpensive black and white printer that uses toner. Toner doesn’t dry out so if you are printing infrequently, you aren’t wasting ink.

Make sure that your printer has all the necessary features you need. Many of the cheaper printers now have great business class features built in for no extra cost. Decide if you need to fax, copy, print double sided, have an automatic document feeder, and all the other features you need. Connectivity options are also critical these days. Networked printers make life a lot easier, however, we continue to see issues with Wi-Fi printers. Some brands are better than others, but even after all this time, they can be flaky. So, we recommend using a wired Ethernet connection for the best results. This may require additional cabling to be run, depending on where you will be placing it, so keep that in mind.

Make sure that the printer is small enough to get the job done without being so large that you can’t move it easily around, if needed. Many times, the printers need to be moved or repositioned due to your office needs. This is why you may want to consider small desktop printers for each office versus one huge copy machine. Large copy machines make sense in a larger business environment, but not in a home. They also typically come with expensive service plans from the vendors, which greatly adds to their cost.

Lastly, if you’re just getting to know printer technology, start simple. Better to purchase a fancier, more advanced model later, rather than buying a top of the line model that doesn’t fit what your needs are.

 

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