Buying a printer can be overwhelming. There are so many options available from different brands, and buying guides galore. Yet we still often see people with printers that aren’t the best ones for their needs. That said, we’re offering five tips to help you find the right one for you.
#1 Identify Your Needs
What are you going to use that printer for? Is it for family use? Home office use? Just as a backup for occasional documents you need to print and sign? For printing photos? For printing graphic designs? Your needs for quality, efficiency, speed, and color or black-and-white prints will influence your choice.
Different printers offer distinct perks. You may want one that prints quickly or one that is compact. Or perhaps you want one that holds a lot of paper. If your priority is photos, you may need a printer that can handle many types and sizes of paper.
If you are running your office from home, you may want to invest in a multi-function printer. These not only print but also scan and copy.
You may not even need a home printer. If you’re using your printer for photographs, you’re better off going to an actual photo printer. It’s about five times cheaper to get photos professionally printed than to color print at home. Plus, you’ll get top-quality copy every time.
#2 Don’t Settle for Cheap
Yes, it’s usually very cheap to buy an inkjet printer from the local big-box store. You may even get a free or dramatically reduced price on a printer with the purchase of your computer. That’s because they’re getting you to buy the printer so that you’ll need to take on the high cost of ink. You’ll also need high-quality printing paper if you want to avoid the ink bleed that can happen on normal office paper.
Another issue with inkjet printers? If you don’t use the color cartridges for a long while, they can dry up, which will leave partial lines on your prints, or the printer won’t work at all until you pay for a fresh, more expensive color cartridge.
#3 Consider Laser Printers
If you’ve decided you do need a home printer, consider a laser printer. Whether you want a printer that works fast or you plan to use it all the time, a laser printer is quick to start up and print. Plus, it offers high-quality results. There is a higher cost upfront, but in the long-term you could save on ink. These printers use a fine powder that doesn’t dry out due to inactivity.
Color laser printing is expensive, yes, but black-and-white printing on a laser printer can be quite cheap and effective.
#4 Read the Reviews
The manufacturer specifications will help you learn:
- monthly page volume;
- estimated annual print costs;
- printing speed;
- maximum resolution;
- Wi-Fi functionality;
- card reader and media plug-in capability;
- added benefits (e.g. automation features such as collating or stapling).
Still, customer and online reviews can help you find out about durability and productivity. Read both positive and negative reviews to get a full sense of how the printer will suit your needs.