Tips On Buying A Printer

Laserjet? Inkjet? Get some tips on buying a printer for yourself or for someone else for the holidays
Published: Nov 16, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows
Tucows Editorial Feature

Tips On Buying A Printer

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

As part of our series designed to help you with your shopping during theholidays, today we're looking at "Printers." Nearly everyone needs toprint, but each persons requirements may be different. I'll try to giveyou a basic understanding so you can be a more informed shopper.

Printer Basics

That are a number of printer types, but I'm only going to look at thetwo most popular varieties. These are the inkjet printer and thelaser printer. Inkjet printers are the most popular and can bevery inexpensive. These work by using nozzles to put drops of ink on thepaper. Laser printers, on the other hand, use toner, heat, and staticelectricity to bind ink onto paper. Both work very well and can givehigh quality prints. The biggest cost of a printer is not theprinter itself, but rather the cost of the ink.

It's In The Ink!

You can find inkjet printers for under $100, but what do thereplacement ink cartridges cost? That's one thing you need to considerwhen looking at printers. Printer cartridges are rated as to how manypages they can print. If you can estimate the number of pages you printper month you'll have an idea of yearly costs. If you're buying theprinter as a gift you may just have to guess.

Many inkjet printers, like those by Hewlett-Packard and others, utilizetwo print cartridges, one black and one color. I have severalsuch printers in my office including an HP 2710 All-In-One, an HP 6110All-In-One, and and HP PSC 500. The "all-in-one" printers give you printing, scanning, copying, and faxing in one device. For basic workthese devices are perfect because they do it all. You can find bundlesof cartridges for these types of printers at stores like Sam's Club,CostCo, and others. Generally these packages have 1 color cartridge and2 black cartridges. You get a break on the price because you're buyingthree cartridges at once. Buying from a discount store also helps.

Some inkjet printers have 5 cartridges. Cyan, magenta, yellow, and twotypes of black. I have one like this in my office, a Canon MP830. One ofthe benefits is that if you use a lot of a certain color you don't haveto replace all the cartridges at once.


If you print a lot of text you may want to look at amonochrome laser printer. The text from a laser printer is muchsharper than that produced by an inkjet. So, if your text qualitymatters, a laser printer is a consideration. I found monochrome laserprinters for under $200 and color lasers for around $400.


In my experience the majority of inkjet printers can print photosat a very high level of quality. At the same time, if you're primarilygo to use a printer just for printing photos then look at some of thenew photo printers. These specialize printers do a wonderful joband generally have card slots that will read your cameras media. Thatmakes it really convenient. Just slip in the memory card and you canprint the photos you want. This is handy for those who don't have acomputer also because most are stand-alone.

Summing It Up!

Printers can be cheap and ink can be expensive. The majority of homeusers will have inkjet printers. Think about how the printer will beused. If the majority of what you print is text than check out alaser printer. If all you want to print are photos take a look atsome of the photo-specific inkjet printers. If you need more thanjust printing you can find all-in-one printers that can do itall.

Print speed, for most home users, is pretty much a non-issue. Mostprinters today can produce decent results as far as speed. In myexperience with printers I've had they don't seem to print as many pagesper minute as they claimed. Your mileage may vary as well.

When buying a printer look at the features of the printer and the costof ink cartridges. Determine what your needs are and buy accordingly.For most users a good, solid inkjet printer will meet most needs.

For your convenience I've put links to the other articles in thisseries. Happy shopping!

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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