Far from the luxury it once was, having a printer nowadays is absolute necessity for any self-respecting office or firm. But plenty of people have taken to using printers in their personal lives as well. From printing your own photos to copying your term paper, a good quality printer can be quite a handy tool to have around.
But how exactly do you go about choosing one that perfectly matches your needs and expectations? Well, printers may come in many shapes and sizes, but they can be narrowed down to a few clear-cut categories. You’ve got the laser ones, which tend to be bulkier but can generally print more pages per minute, and the ones that rely on inkjet technology, making them more precise but somewhat slower. Then there are the special printers that aim to replicate the dynamic range of a traditional photograph and are perfect for when you need to make high quality prints.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here. Depending on how large your budget is, you can buy printers that incorporate more than one technology, as well as ones that include scanners and copiers too. Which is why the best thing you can possible do before buying a printer is honestly ask yourself what you’re going to need it for. Usually you’ll find yourself matching one of the five following profiles:
- The casual user
People who use a printer at home tend to fit in this category. Often they’ll need printers capable of performing a wide variety of services, from printing out online tickets to tackling the occasional snapshot. Since no one wants to spend a fortune on a home printer, the budget is also usually tight. Luckily, you can find decent multifunction inkjet printers on the market with prices ranging from $100 to $500.
- The shoestring-budgeted student
Unlike a regular home user, the student doesn’t really require snapshot printing or anything fancy like that. What he needs is speed. Term papers often take up a lot of pages, so any self-respecting student will look for a cheap laser printer that can really crank it up if necessary. These start at around $100 and come with the benefit of having toner cartridges that last much longer than ink cartridges, which means that they’ll end up saving you money in the long run.
- The small business owner
Small businesses are often characterized by their vibrant environments. It makes sense that in such cases the best option would be a multifunction or all-in-one printer. These fulfill not only your basic printing needs, but can also scan documents and copy them too. Prices start at $150 and rise according to the complexity of the tasks they can perform.
- The photographer
Digital photography has become widespread in this day and age, which means that many professional photographers have taken to printing their own work at home. A good choice for them would be a letter-size inkjet since such printers can also handle routine jobs. Still, quality is the name of the name when it comes to professional snapshot printing, so expect to pay as much as $800 for a high-end model.
- The big enterprise manager
Finally, a big company is expected to print out things in volume. Which is why an inkjet printer, no matter how special, probably won’t be a good match in this situation. What you’ll need is a heavy-duty laser printer that can juggle more than one job at a time and print out thousands of pages before their toner cartridges need to be replaced. You can expect prices of $300 and upwards for such models.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to utilize a printer, and there is no right or wrong way to go about things. What every printer under the sun has in common, though, is the fact that they all need to be recharged from time to time. Laser printers use toners while inkjet printers require cartridges, but the basic idea is the same. Luckily, nowadays you can find all the printing supplies you need online and order them with the click of a button. If properly taken care of, a printer can last for a long time, which is why it’s important to only use top quality supplies from trusted providers. Do that and your printer will be a valued partner for years on end.