Buying a Printer

Buying a Printer

What's the best printer to buy

What’s the best printer to buy? It’s one of the most common questions we get asked. Quite honestly it’s a something you do need to think about. It can make all the difference.  After all, printers aren’t just printers! I cannot stress this enough, make an informed choice, don’t leave it up to a salesperson and then find it’s not what you were after.

Some points to consider before you purchase –

Do you need a printer or a multi-function device?
What features are you looking for?
Is it for home or office use?
Does it need to be colour or black & white?
Will the machine get used often or occasionally?
Buying a cheap printer – versus the running costs!

Buying a multi-function device or simply a printer


Your first choice really is to decide whether you need a machine which simply prints or would it be handy to have a machine that prints, copies and scans. Personally I think it’s a good idea to have a model which offers all three. Why would you  limit yourself right?  We are doing more online these days, especially in our current world circumstances. My advice is go for a multifunction.

Multi-function devices can also be know as ‘All-in-One’ devices.  The jargon can be a bit confusing.  Basically they generally offer printing, scanning, copying and fax capabilities.  Faxing is a bit outdated now, but there are still some models offering this feature.  Now you can scan your documents and email.  Much simpler and easier.

Do you really need to have a colour printer

Think about what you’re going to print.  Do you print documents and photos?  When you’re printing your emails which can include online newsletters, bills, bank statements and other correspondence, do you prefer a bit of colour? It can be handy to be able to print out the occasional photo too.  If you can live without the colour, go for mono laser printer or even a epson eco printer.  Epson now make printers which are refilled by bottle inks instead of cartridges.  The purchase of the machine can be a little more expensive, but the running costs are much lower.  Do be aware though, these printers still need to be used regularly. If you don’t print often, a laser printer, with the toner cartridges is a better option for you.

Inkjet or Laser Printer

Inkjet or Laser Printer

Not sure what the difference is between an Inkjet or Laser printer?  Don’t worry, your not alone.  An inkjet printer uses liquid ink to print documents and photos.  Inkjet printers need to be used regularly.

Laser printers use a powder and heat process to produce documents.  A laser printer may be a good option if you print sporadically.  As toner is a powder, the machine can sit without being used for a while without a problem, whereas an inkjet needs to be used to keep it functioning correctly.

Features you may want to consider

Models these days offer many useful features. Here’s a short list to get your started –

Single or Double Sided Printing – some models offer manual double sided printing and others offer automatic double sided printing.  Automatic obviously is much easier as the machine does the work internally. Otherwise you have to manually turn the paper over to achieve the double sided print.  Many machines only offer single sided printing, so do be aware.

Black & White (Monochrome) or Colour Printing – Desktop monochrome lasers are a good choice if you’re only printing the occasional black & white document. If you want to print colour, the inkjet printer is the best choice for home use.  There are many colour laser printers but they are a bit more costly.  Again, it depends on your circumstances and usage – the choice is yours!

Printing Speed – Look at the specifications for each machine. You’ll be surprised at how printing speeds can differ between models and manufacturers.  Paper type, size make a difference.  Generally speed is calculated on the machines draft / fast setting.  This is the quick print setting – doesn’t use so much ink or toner.

Printing Resolution / Borderless Printing – Resolution is an important feature if you intend to produce high quality prints.  The higher resolution, the better the results. Inkjet printers offer borderless printing which is great if you want to print out the special photo.  Make sure to use photo paper which can be purchased in a range of sizes, 4″x6″ 5″x7″, A4 and A3.  Your photo will be bright and glossy. If your not a fan of gloss, photo paper also is available in satin and matte finishes.  All coated inkjet papers so results will be crisp and clear.

Document Feeder – A document feeder may not sound like a feature you need, but let me tell you, it’s extremely useful.  Especially if your scanning or copying.  Simply load your document into the feeder and scan or copy.  Having a feeder enables you to produce a pdf file of a document with many pages in a single file, which can then be emailed.  If you don’t have a feeder you can still produce a pdf document but it will be a single page file only.  Get a model with a document feeder!

WiFi Connection / Bluetooth – Printing with cord connection.  Enables you to print from our many devices including your mobile phone.  We all use our mobiles for everything now – so this is a great feature.

Paper Trays – Dual Paper Feed – This many not sound important, but let me tell you, it is.  Check out how many sheets of paper a printer can hold.  Some models only offer 50 sheets while others can hold a whole ream of paper, 500 sheets.  Another point to consider does the printer offer dual paper feed?  This is extremely important if you are printing on heavier paper or card.  This means printer can feed paper from a lower paper tray, generally which is from the base of the machine, in the dual models.  It can also feed paper from the rear of the machine.  This is a must if you are intending to print on heavier papers.  The paper can then glide straight through the machine.

If you try to print on heavier papers in a model that has to feed in through internally, the chances of jamming are much higher.  The paper has to bend around the rollers internally to print.  Not a great option, especially as your machine gets older.  Try a printer model with the dual paper path.  Less hassles in the long run.

Paper Sizes – You’ll find inkjet printer models, offer the bigger range of printing paper sizes.  4″x6″, 5″x7″, A4, A3 and even A3+ sizes.  These are the most useful sizes.  Some models even offer envelope printing.

Card Reader / LCD Screen –  A machine with an LCD screen can be helpful.  You can copy a document without even having to turn your computer on.  Simply go through the process directly on the machines screen.  There will be many other features you can access via the LCD screen, such as your current ink levels.  A card reader slot might be useful too.  If you take photos with a camera or other device you can simply insert the memory card into the machine and print your photos directly.

Portable Printing – Do you need to be able to print on the go?  Manufacturers such as Canon, Brother and HP offer portable models.

Have a look at a manufacturers website for current models.  Where to start?  The most common are Canon, Epson, HP and Brother which I’m sure will ring a few bells.  Other manufacturers which may not be so well known are Fuji Xerox, Toshiba, Samsung and Kyocera.

You want to view the specifications of each model.  Specifications give you the detailed information about each machine.  This includes, printing speeds, connection options, consumables it uses, paper types and sizes.  Worth having a read  – once you’ve decided then you can source the particular model your interested in purchasing.

Home or Office printing

Home Printing

Will the machine be used in the normal home environment or does it need to be a workhorse to handle a busy office’s requirements? Generally home users print documents and occasionally photos. Office users tend use their devices for customer invoicing and document printing. Quite different printing requirements. When viewing specifications of models, some manufacturers will provide monthly page volumes. They also break down their models into home use, office use and even photo printers which make it even easier for you.

Occasional or high volume printing

high volume printing

Refillable ink tank printers are the new offering on the printing scene. Offering colour prints are a lower price. The machines can be a bit more expensive, but the running costs are much lower. You’re simply buying bottle ink to refill the tanks when they are low. Another great thing – you are buying genuine ink to refill the tanks. You don’t have to use generic / compatible ink which damages your printer in the long run. Being a liquid ink, the machines do have to be used. Epson and Canon are the two manufacturers which are producing models along these lines.

If you’re an occasional printer, you may still want to go down the path of the laser printer. Monochrome, black & white and colour options are available from many manufacturers.

Buying a cheap printer versus spending a little more

We’ve all seen the $20 printer advertised. What’s the catch? Because we all know there is one right? Generally cheaper printers use tri-colour cartridges. This means all the three colours are in the one cartridge. Well that makes it easy I suppose, but does it? When you use all the yellow in the cartridge, you have to replace the whole cartridge even though there is plenty of cyan and magenta left. The machines have quite a high running cost.

Printers that cost a little more, can uses individual ink cartridges. This in theory means you only have to replace the colours you use.

Before you purchase a machine, don’t forget to cost the price of the cartridges it uses. I cannot stress this enough. Cheap printer = high running costs. Don’t be caught out. The best printer to buy might not be the cheap one.

Can you have your choice of cartridge supplier

Cartridge Supplier

Now this is a growing problem for customers. Many are being caught out, after the purchase of a machine and locked into buying from one supplier only at their prices. It’s like buying a car and then being told you can now only buy petrol for it from one place – nuts right?

Well it’s now happening in the printer world. Epson, Brother and Canon are the main culprits at the moment. Best to be aware!

A couple of examples for you. The Epson XP235 and XP432 models use the 29 ink cartridges. You are now forced to purchase the genuine Epson 29 inks for these models from either Officeworks and Epson themselves. And you’re forced to pay the prices they set. These are exclusive to Officeworks and cannot be sold by other suppliers at this time. Cartel behaviour really when you think about it.

These machines are being pushed on customers who are unawares they will not be able to purchase genuine supplies for these machines where is convenient. The right to choose has been taken away from them.

Before you purchase your next printer

In conclusion do some homework before the purchase of that next machine.  The best printer to buy doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you’ve done some research.  It will be a much happier experience for you.

Basically it breaks down like this – the features you need, the cost of the supplies and can you purchase consumables where you want to.

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