Nowadays no one buys a major technology purchase – like a computer, TV or camera -without doing some research. Well, the same should go for buying a printer. The printers are more complex than ever with so many features and functions that it can be hard to distinguish a particular style of printer, let alone a brand.
So the staff of Printer Comparison has come up with a 10 question checklist to help guide everyone on their quest for the most sensible printer.
10 Things to ask yourself before buying a printer:
1. How much will the printer cost?
This is the No. 1 question of the season considering the current economic climate. So before you hit the stores, ask yourself, “how much money do I have to spend on this purchase?” To get a good idea of some of the features available and how much they cost I would recommend you check out the 3 major office supply chains and best buy.
2. That cartridge cost how much?
Wow that was expensive! The second most important question, although some would argue it’s the first. Either way, it’s important to get a general idea of how much it will cost to run your new printer over the long run. Check to see what kind of ink or toner it takes and then find it in the store or online. Most manufacturers will have a general ball park number on prints per cartridge listed on the packaging; divide that by the cost of the cartridge to get an estimate of cost per print. When looking at going from ink to laser machines remember a laser printer like HP Color Laser Toner will use 4 cartridges.
3. Do I need all that stuff?
More than ever, manufacturers are advertising the fabulous All-in-One (AIO) or Multifunction printer (MFP). They mean the same thing; that you’ll be getting a printer as well as several other functional devices. The question is, “do you really need a scanner and copier or could you save money by just purchasing a single function printer?”
4. What features do I need?
Most AIOs or MFPs offer print, scan and copy capabilities. However, many of the multifunction devices now offer fax and/or high quality photo capabilities as well. Four-in-1 or 5-in-1 devices will almost always be more expensive than their 3-in-1 counterparts so make sure that fax and/or photo capabilities are something you need.
5. Wireless that sounds good!
Cutting the cord is more prevalent than ever in today’s world and the printing industry is not immune to that trend. Many manufacturers are touting a built-in wireless connectivity as a major feature, but should you pay major money for it? Well, two questions can answer this dilemma for you: “do you have a network in your home or office?” And “do you have more than one computer you want to print from?” If the answer is yes to both, then you’ll want to consider either a Wi-Fi or Ethernet (wired network) connection. If the answer is no to either, then a plain old direct connection via USB will work just fine.
6. How much color do I need?
This question really only applies to shoppers looking for a Laser or LED printer as inkjet printers always print in both black and white and color. Consumers can save a good amount of money purchasing a monochrome printer in both initial cost and long run usage because there is no color element. But be careful to make sure black and white is really right because a colorless world can be pretty dull.
7. I think I will start a photography studio!
You won’t be getting lab quality photos from a laser, LED or solid ink printer anytime soon. While these machines print beautiful colors and have their place in many households and businesses, if you want photos, inkjet or dye sub is the way to go. The real question is will you be printing photos for the home or photos to share? If you have a semi-serious photography love, you will want to go with a dedicated photo printer
8. Let’s Go Green?
When you are buying a printer ask a salesperson (or look at the specs) to see if the printer is Energy Star and/or RoHS compliant. Both are environmental programs helping to conserve energy and protect consumers from harmful materials. Plus, most Energy Star compliant devices will save you money on your energy bill you can’t beat that! But if you really want to help out the environment then check to see if re-manufactured printer toner is available for that machine.
9. So I’ll conserve energy, can a printer do more than that?
Again, the answer is yes. Two-sided printing (duplexing) is another feature you’ll want to look for when interested in conserving, whether it is for Mother Earth or your wallet. Make sure to check to see if the printer has automatic duplexing; many times a manufacturer will advertise duplexing as a feature, but users will actually have to flip the document in order to get double-sided results.
10. What else do I need?
Depending on how you answered the above questions, you will have to buy supplies for a new printer. Every printer comes with a starter kit of ink/toner (at least the ones that I’ve come across) but you may want to purchase a second set depending on print volume. Paper is important; typically copy paper will be fine for most prints but photo paper or professional paper may be needed to accomplish some goals. Finally, you need to make sure you have the right cord for your connection. If you plan on setting up your printer over an Ethernet or USB connection, you will need an Ethernet cable or USB print cord. It should say on the box or in the specs whether either is included. If not, ask someone!
There are plenty of options to consider when purchasing a new printer for your home or office, but the most important thing is to make sure you get what you need to accomplish your goals. If you are buying a printer to share with a small work-group with a large printing volume, take these needs into consideration. If you just want a budget friendly single function printer to send with your student off to college, then consider that. Don’t be taken in by all the cool gadgets and excellent marketing! As you notice the different brands of printers out there I would like to point out that 85% of all printers being used today are HP. Another note worth mentioning is that HP color toner has come to be one of the most available and reasonable toners on the market. Often most people never think to check availability. What good is a printer if there are no cartridges?