Printers – What’s Right For Me?

So, you need a printer… As technology goes, they’re far from the most interesting, but when you need to print something, it’s oh-so-annoying when you can’t do so.
There are essentially two print technologies to choose from:
Inkjet Printer - image taken by Jenifer Corrêa (Flickr)
• Inkjet
• Laser

Before you decide on what to get, there are a few other things to consider:

How much printing are you going to do?

Whether you’re using the device at home or in your business, the number of pages you print in a fixed time frame is a major factor in your decision.  This is usually measured over a one month period and would be known as the ‘Monthly Duty Cycle’ within the printing industry.  It is probably more relevant to those wanting a printer for business use, but it shouldn’t be ignored by home users either.
If you are using the printer in a business environment and you’re printing in large volumes – around 200+ pages per month, you may find that leasing a printer is a more cost effective solution, as this will include maintenance and ink/toner.

What are you printing?

Different printer devices suit different print outputs.  If you are only going to be printing in black & white, then a mono laser printer would probably be most suitable for you.
If you need colour, there are options in both laser and inkjet units.  However, if you want to print photo-realistic images, the inkjet technology will be more appropriate.  Colour laser printer will print photos, but they won’t look anything like the glossy prints you get from a high street photography store.

Connecting the Printer to your Computer (tablet or phone)

Modern printers incorporate a range of different connectivity options. If you are investing in a printer for a professional environment which will be utilised by multiple users, it may be prudent to invest in a printer which supports network connectivity.  This can be wired or wireless.
If you use Apple products, such as the iPad or iPhone: a printer supporting AirPrint (Apple’s wireless printing tool) will enable you to print directly from those devices.  Android devices can also print similarly.

If you are planning on using a printer with one computer (PC or Mac), a simple USB cable between the two may be the easiest option, particularly if your use your computer in a fixed position, close to the printer.

Added Extras

If you want to be able to scan or copy documents, then a ‘Multi-function Device’ (MFD), is a good option.  Sometimes referred to as an ‘All-in-One’ device, these units have a scanner built into the device, which allows you to scan a document to your PC or directly copy a document, without your computer being involved.
If you’re printing multi-page documents, a printer with ‘duplex’ printing functionality can be worthwhile.  This allows the device to print to both sides of a sheet of paper, which is good for your wallet and the environment.

Cost Per Page

This information can be hard to find, as many manufacturers will focus more on the functionality of their device and the upfront cost to buy it than they will the ongoing running costs.  Inkjet printers generally have a higher cost per page, than laser printers, though laser printers will usually have a larger initial outlay than an Inkjet device.

Ink cartridges for an inkjet printer will cost between £20 & £40 and will usually allow you to print around 200 pages before needing replacement.  Some printer models will also have higher capacity cartridges available, allowing around 500 pages.  Of course, the price goes up too.

Laser printers use toner cartridges, which cost around £90 – £200, depending on the model.  However, they cost a lot more than Inkjet cartridges; they will print between 2000 and 5000 pages, Colour Laser Printer (image by Xerox Corp)before needing to be replaced.  Unlike inkjet cartridges, which dry out over time, meaning you may not get the number of pages printed you’d expect, laser toners can last many years and aren’t prone to drying out, as they are dry in the first place.

So, all that is probably a bit overwhelming, right?  You’re not alone in feeling that.  If you need help making your choice, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with RIDEA Technology.  We can help you assess your usage needs and choose a device to suit.

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