In a world that is increasingly becoming paperless as more businesses and institutions turn to online forms, printers are gradually losing importance.
However, they are not entirely out of use and will probably remain relevant for decades to come.
The shift towards a paperless life is far from becoming a reality as paper is an integral part of daily routines in homes, offices, and institutions across the country.
You can also combine hard and soft copies in your daily routine to enjoy the benefits of both worlds.
If you’re one of the many users who prefer hard copies to soft copies for essential documents and other tasks, here is a printer buying guide to help you choose.
Types of Printers
If you want a printer for home use, some printers are best suited for such uses. You need to ensure that you choose the specific type that you need.
This is because you can’t have a 3D printer when the intended use is printing papers.
Here are some of the common types of printers:
You’ve probably come across a laser printer if you’ve worked in an office or similar settings. These printers are reserved for office use, where there is a high demand for printing jobs.
Laser printers create a print by melting toner powder onto a paper. They are typically more expensive compared to inkjet printers. They are also durable and best suited for regular printing tasks.
Since laser printers use a toner instead of ink, it doesn’t dry when it’s not used for extended periods. They are also an economical option due to their faster print speeds coupled with lower costs per page.
Laser printers can also print high-quality photos, but those that can are a select few. And even then, you have to use specialized laser-printer-ready photo paper, which is an inconvenience.
Inkjet printers are typically designed for home use, but they are also ideal for printing professional high-resolution photos.
They rely on a pigment-based ink or dye, and you’ll typically find them in homes, schools, and small offices.
Typically, inkjet printers are cheaper to buy, but the running costs are considerably higher compared to laser printers. They are also better at handling color, especially when printing images and photos.
Solid Ink Printers
As the name suggests, these printers have solid ink in their cartridges. This means that when you press print on your printer, it heats the solid sticks of ink. Once the sticks melt, the ink is then used to print the image.
Solid ink printers have a few upsides, which include low operating costs. They are cheaper to run compared to inkjet printers; you don’t need to discard the ink cartridge.
Instead, once you run out of the solid sticks of ink, you’re required to replace the ink supply only.
Single Function Printers
Single function printers can only print and have no additional functionality. One use is enough for many users, especially if their only need is printing paper and images.
However, if you want extra functionalities, you’ll need to get a multifunctional printer.
A multifunction printer can perform the primary function of a printer which is to print. In addition to this, it can also scan documents, send faxes, and even make photocopies.
This type of printer is ideal for small businesses as it’s cheaper to buy one multifunction printer as opposed to a separate device for each function.
Inkjet vs. Laser Printers: Which Is Better?
It depends on your intended use because if you want a printer for home use, you’ll need an inkjet printer.
However, if you want a printer for office use or in a setting that requires high volume printing, laser printers are recommended.
If you’re a photographer who needs to print the images you take, you should opt for an inkjet printer. This is because inkjet has the edge when it comes to printing high-quality images.
As mentioned earlier, inkjet printers are cheaper to buy but expensive to run. This is mainly due to the cost of liquid printer ink.
It’s an engineered liquid that’s designed to produce colors that look perfect and dries within seconds.
In contrast, laser printers use toner, which is cheaper on a per-page basis. However, in terms of individual cartridges, ink cartridges are cheaper compared to toner cartridges.
So which is better? Laser printers are better for long term use despite being expensive and using expensive toners.
Which Printer Brand Is Most Reliable?
There are several printer brands, and they all focus on providing quality printers for their users. However, four brands stand out, and they include:
Brother printers are products of a Japanese company with the same name. The company has been around for over a century and initially focused on making sewing machines.
They later rebranded and expanded their product line to printers, desktop computers, etc.
Their printers are categorized into home and business printers. The major difference between the two categories is that home computers typically comprise inkjet printers, while business printers are mainly laser printers.
This is because laser printers can handle bulk printers, while inkjet printers have lower initial costs.
Brother printers focus more on cost as opposed to quality. Due to this, their print quality isn’t the best. However, in terms of cost savings, Brother printers are arguably the best.
Epson makes a wide range of products, including smart glasses, printers, cameras, projectors, etc.
However, printers are arguably their most popular line of products. Their products range from budget options to more expensive options that are dedicated to professional photographers.
It’s also among the few companies that have monochrome inkjet printers that can rival monochrome laser printers. Epson printers can compete with any brand in terms of scan and print quality.
HP printers are arguably the most common printers as you can find them almost everywhere, from schools, and offices to hospitals.
Their popularity is attributed to the cheap cost of ownership when compared to other brands.
They are arguably the most reliable printers as they excel well in areas such as print and scan quality. They are built to offer value and create crisp text documents.
Therefore, if you’re interested in an office printer, HP printers would be a great starting point.
Canon is another Japanese company that makes printers; however, it’s best known for its cameras and lenses.
They typically make inkjet printers, but they also have a few laser printer options.
Canon offers budget-friendly and high-end options. The latter has a high page yield while the former has a lower page yield. Their scan and print quality is great, but Epson printers are arguably better.
They are also reliable but costly to maintain due to their high ink prices.
What Should I Look For When Buying a Printer?
There are tons of printing options available today, and it’s no surprise that you’re going through this printer buying guide, hoping to get some good recommendations.
As printer enthusiasts, we’ll help you choose, but first, you’ve got to understand the factors to consider.
Know your requirements
Before you click buy on that printer you’ve been eyeing, you might want to review your requirements.
Understand your daily printing requirements as it will help you decide whether you want a home or office printer, whether you want a multifunctional or single-function printer, etc.
- How many pages are you printing per day?
- How many people will use the printer?
- Do you want monochrome or colored prints? Does your work require high-quality photo prints?
Such a consideration is necessary since inkjet printers are renowned for their photo printing quality.
Total Cost Of Ownership And Running Costs
Evaluate the cost of owning and running a printer. Don’t be too blinded by the cost of hardware, look at other factors such as the cost of ink as it’s one of the main running costs of a printer.
This typically applies when dealing with inkjet printers; they are cheaper to buy but expensive to run.
If you’re in a small organization that requires a device that can scan, print, and send a fax, you can invest in a multifunction printer.
It’s annoying that every time you print an image or text on both sides of a paper, you have to turn it in the printer manually. This is why you need a printer that has automatic duplex printing.
This feature is vital, especially in office settings when you’re trying to limit paper wastage.
You can’t buy the best printer without considering network capabilities, especially in an office setting. This is because, in an office setting, you have several employees wanting to use the printer at the same time.
In such a situation, using a local printer would be time-consuming as it can only service a single computer at a time.
However, with a network printer, every employee or user within the network can access the printer.
These printers are efficient, facilitate remote use, require less maintenance, allow easier usage tracking, and offer more uniformity.
Ink vs. Toner
Which of the two is better for an office setting or a home setting? This factor is influenced by your requirements because a small office can sustain its small printing needs with an ink printer.
However, if you’re in a large organization that requires large-scale printing, you need a toner printer.
Keep in mind that toner cartridges are more expensive compared to ink cartridges. Fortunately, they last longer than ink cartridges, which is why laser printers are better suited for large-scale text printing.
Don’t be too preoccupied with the specifications of a printer when you have no idea how it performs in real life. This is where reviews and printer buying guides come into play.
You get to see experts use the printers and judge whether these printers would satisfy your current needs.
Cyber attackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, and any easy way to get into a company’s network is through the printer. Very few users evaluate the kind of access that printers have, especially when connected to a network.
Printers are an easy target, and companies rarely consider this as a vulnerability.
Every company, business, and organization needs to invest in cybersecurity. At the top of your list should be a secure printer.
If your business requires large-scale printing of documents, especially law firms or institutions, a fast printer would be a nice addition. Each printer has a specific print speed, which is denoted in pages per minute (ppm).
Color printers typically have two print speeds; one for black and white prints and another for colored prints. Note that these speeds are averages; thus, the speed might vary in every printing session.
Print speeds only affect high output users, such as offices. Home users have lower output requirements thus can make do with a slower printer.
Printer Duty Cycle
A printer has an average speed as earlier discussed, but you might want to look at its printer duty cycle before you make that purchase. This is the maximum number of pages it can print without failing or breaking down.
Home use printers can handle 5000 pages or less a month. Midrange to low-end business printers can handle 20,000 pages, while higher-end printers can handle over 100,000 pages or a month.
The printer that you choose should have a higher printer duty cycle than your monthly print volume. The higher the cycle, the better as it’s an indicator of better build and a testament to the printer’s durability.
Also, you might want to research how long the printer can sustain a high printing duty cycle before it breaks down or becomes a problem.
Be sure to consider additional factors such as supplies, maintenance intervals, device engine life, etc. before selecting a printer based on its duty cycle.
If you’re having trouble estimating your workflow, you can calculate the number of times that you reload the paper tray in a day, week, or even month.
For example, if you reload your paper tray twice a day with 500 sheets, your daily requirement is 1,000 sheets or 2,000 pages.
In a month, you’re printing 52,000 pages to 62,000 pages, which means that you need a printer that can handle more than 62,000 pages.
Armed with this knowledge, you can now browse the selection of printers confident that you can select a printer suitable for your needs.