10 Steps to Choosing Your Next Printer

By far the most annoying peripheral for a computer has to be the printer. It either jams, runs out of ink or just plain acts funny. You have finally gotten to the point where you have to break down and buy a printer, but the technology changes every six months and you just can’t keep up. Believe it or not the technology hasn’t changed, it has only gotten better.

10. The most important thing to consider is how much can you spend on a printer. The price you are willing to pay ultimately determines the printer you get. Each type of printer has a different price range. Prices for home or small business printers range from $20 to $1000.

9. What features do you need is the next question you should ask yourself. These features are determined by what you do with a printer. If you print a whole lot (you will go through more than a ream of paper in under a month.) you might want to consider a laser printer instead of an ink-jet. Do you need color? A color laser printer is much more expensive to buy and maintain. Most all ink-jets today are color. Or, is it that you print on carbon paper and need something that impacts. For that you will need a dot-matrix printer. Dot-matrix printers are the old printers everyone used to have. They are noisy big and didn’t have a very good quality. Just because they are old technology, do not think they are cheap. They are very expensive.

8. The popular thing with printers is photos. You might want to digitize your old photos, and for that you will need a scanner. Fortunately there are a plethora of printers that have built in scanners, and as an added bonus you will get the copier feature also. These are called All-in-one or Multi-function. Now if you want to scan pictures then most likely you will want to print them out. If you want to print a lot of photos, I recommend a printer with multiple color cartridges. This will allow you to print more before replacing cartridges thus reducing your cost of ink.

7. Another feature a lot of people need is a fax machine. Even though you might not fax all the time, that once in a while you need to fax is worth the purchase. The added fax machine in the printer is not much extra and is only included on All-In-one machines. You can not get a fax on a printer without a scanner.

6. Nowadays people have multiple computers in their house, and it would be very expensive to buy a separate printer for everyone. So, an option to consider is networking. This feature is called a print server. Built in print servers will allow you to plug the printer in to your home network and then every computer on the network will send its prints to the same printer. Note: You will have to have a router in your home to be able to set this feature up. Also: If you opt for the wireless print server, you will need to have your network set up with a wireless router.

5. If all you do is print text, the quality of the print should not be considered. But, if you print photos it is a key component. If you bought that low print quality printer and then tried to process you digital photos, the picture will not look that great and may have lines all over it.

Print quality is measured in DPI. (dots per inch). That means how many little dots of black or color can the printer fit into one square inch. It is usually represented on store tags by vertical x horizontal dots. A good quality is 1200 x 1200 dpi. That resolution is good for pictures, and anything much below that I would not recommend the photo savvy person.

4. Some people don’t care about what brand they get, and consider that a printer is a printer. If your happy and satisfied with a printer by a certain company, by all means stay with that company, and remove all doubt in your mind that if your printer messes up it wasn’t because you got a different brand. FYI: all brands of all printers have problems; some brands just have more problems than others.

There are only a few major printer brands on the market for home and small office. The most popular are: HP, Canon, Lexmark, Bother, and Dell. Some things to consider when choosing a brand are:

? Cost of ink. Ink varies in price from brand to brand. Reoccurring costs add up fast and your $50 printer just turned into a $90 printer in one month because it uses ink cartridges fast.
? Service. If you call them for support and are unwilling to help you solve your problem and or replace your defective machine, then do not consider them. Printers break ALL THE TIME.
? History. Talk to your friends and coworkers and see which one has the best ratings. Even better is to check out consumer reports to see what the reviews of the new printers are. www.consumerreports.org
? Style. You want your new printer to make everyone who sees it say. “You got a bad-ass printer!” You cant do that with a cheap piece of junk.

This part was a little more difficult to write without being biased. Take my opinion for what you will, but I have worked with computers and printers for many years and even sold them at a certain technology store. In my personal opinion the worst brand overall is Brother. I can not begin to tell you how many call I received about Brother Printers giving problems. The best overall I would say is HP in service and quality.

3. For the photo enthusiast with a digital camera there is a great feature appearing on more and more printers. It is the multi-card reader. The card reader will allow you to remove the memory from your camera and stick it in the printer. If the printer has a mini screen then you will be able to view the picture and print it out in any size without even touching the computer. This quick printing is very convenient, but I only recommend getting the card reader if the printer has the mini screen to view the pictures.

2. The biggest problem with printers when they get home is that they DO NOT HAVE A USB CABLE! True 99% of all printers today do not come with the stupid cable. Wherever you buy your printer get a cable too and don’t forget to add the price of the cable into your budget, and unless your printer sits directly on top of your computer don’t get the 3 foot cable. It will be too short.

1. Finally the warranty is a major consideration. Printers usually come with a 1 year manufacturer warranty covering defects. If you can afford to get the extended warranty get it! Almost all printers will start messing up within two years. The extended warranty will get you a new printer, for paying a mere fraction of the original price. Manufacturers mostly consider any printer under $400 not worth fixing and will just supply a replacement. Now, if your printer is more than a year old and you still have time left in you extended warranty, your printer has more than likely been discontinued and they will issue you the new model. Easy upgrade!

Overall the decision is up to you. These are just some suggestions on how to choose your next printer. Always do your research before buying anything that you will have to deal with often. The better printer you get the less aggravation and headache you will get. What value do YOU place on less headaches?

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