Sometimes finding the right printer can be a difficult task. There are a lot of things that you need to consider especially when it comes to where the printer will be used primarily and the kind of prints that are needed.
Chances are that whatever you need to print, there’s a printer that can do it.
However, not all printers are the same. When it comes to choosing, you need to have the best information. We can help you with that by showing you some of the things that you need to consider.
How to Choose the Right Printer for Yourself
Of course, the first step when choosing the right printer, or any device, is to decide on the budget. Here we have assumed that you are already have a rudimentary budget in mind.
With that said, let us look at a few points that can help you decide.
1. Inkjet or Laserjet Printers
Inkjet and Laserjet Printers are two of the most common kinds of printers. Inkjet printers shoot a stream of ink droplets onto a paper to form impressions whereas a laserjet printer uses a beam of light to guide the toner material onto the paper.
What this means is with an inkjet, you can get better color reproduction which is great if you will be using your device primarily for photo printing.
A laserjet, on the other hand, is more suitable for text printing as it uses a laser that precisely places the toner. Color laserjets are capable of producing good photo prints too but specialized photo inkjets are usually much better.
Laserjet printers also tend to be more expensive to purchase than inkjets and are sometimes larger as well.
One thing that truly set laser printers apart is the speed. Inkjets can never match up to the speed that they offer. Therefore, for busier places, laserjets makes more sense.
If you’re considering a printer that can be used for big workloads then a safe bet is to go with a laserjet printer.
With an Inkjet printer, you get the flexibility of printing on a wide variety of media. However, with a laserjet printer, it isn’t advisable to print on heat-sensitive material. An inkjet would be better for printing on different media types.
2. AIO vs Single Function
Just like the name implies, single-function printers can print but don’t have any other additional functionalities. For some users, a single function printer would be good enough, especially in cases where there is no need to scan or make copies.
On the other hand, all-in-one devices do not only encompass the functionalities of a printer, but some can also scan and copy documents and others can even carry out faxing.
Depending on the needs you have, you have to consider whether some of the features that a printer comes with will be needed.
AIO printers are also called multifunction printers (MFP) and they are the most used in many cases. Additionally, they can help you save some money compared to when you buy separate devices for the extra functionalities.
For businesses, AIO printers are the most ideal as they can be used with different tasks as needed. Better still, nowadays AIOs are not as expensive as they used to be.
Therefore, if you only need to perform printing functions and you never need to scan or copy, a single function printer is good enough, however, if you need these features or are unsure whether you’ll need them then probably go with a multi function over a single function.
3. Printers for Office
As opposed to a personal printer, office printers often need to be capable of fast prints and high monthly duty cycles. The maximum monthly duty cycle is the largest number of documents a printer can do in a month without compromising on quality.
For the office, you need a workgroup printer that can print as many pages as are required in a month and depending on how much you print, consider a printer with a rated duty cycle that is at least at that level for good service.
Fast printers are also ideal. As shown previously, laserjet printers are quite fast and hence more suitable for the office.
Besides that, also consider the cost of operations. While it may be easy to purchase an office printer, remember that the more you print the more expensive it gets. Hence, a device that offers a great cost per page (CPP) is better. This can result in more affordable prints.
Assuming you’re thinking of going with a laserjet for the office, the cartridge yield is also a good thing to consider before making the buying decision.
Cartridge yield refers to the number of pages you can print before the cartridge runs out and you have to replace it.
A good office printer should have a high rated cartridge yield for better cost-efficiency.
An office printer has is also different in the sense that they have added functionality with their scanner/copier. For instance, a typical office printer also comprises of a scanner with an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF).
Compared to a simple flatbed, an ADF scanner automatically scans a batch of your documents at a time, this making the scanning process more efficient.
Office printers may also feature fax capability.
4. Printers for Photographers
While inkjet printers are better for printing photos, some are more superior than others. It all boils down to what the printer does differently and how it benefits a user whose main prints are photographs or high-quality graphics.
With a photography printer, the main thing you need to consider is the print quality. Print quality can be affected by many factors. One of the most important of which is the inks used.
Primarily, all printers use four basic colors to print (CMYK).
In comparison, a high-quality photo printer can have 8 different ink colors. As such, they produce much more vibrant and studio grade outputs.
A general rule of thumb to follow, thus, is that any printer with more than 4 inks, is a great photo printer.
While some devices can go up to 12 ink tanks, you should also consider the cost of purchasing and operating the device.
Related: Best 4 x 6 Photo Printers Reviewed
5. Basic Home Printer
For an average home user, the choices of a good printer are not driven by the device’s performance and the quality of the devices as is the case with professional use printers. Instead, they are driven by the procurement and operating cost.
Here, a simple inkjet printer will do. This is, of course, assuming that you don’t do high volume printing at home. An all-in-one device can come in handy for home use because it offers many features.
For home use, the device needs to deliver good prints and be functional and robust enough to handle varying degrees of light to moderate workloads.
With a simple home printer, you can get a good purchase price but you need to be wary of some cheap models. Some may use very expensive ink cartridges resulting in saving during the purchase but very high costs during operation.
6. Low Operating Costs
If you have a very high printing volume, then getting a printer with the lowest operating cost is the most obvious course of action.
One of the best ways to ensure cheap operating cost is to invest in a printer with supertanks.
These printers go by many names. Some call them printers with refillable ink cartridges, some call them printers with CISS system etc.
Basically, these printers have a large ink reservoir that can hold enough ink to print thousands of color and black pages on a single refill. On top of that, the refill costs a fraction of what an ink cartridge would cost on an average printer.
You can bring the cost down all the way to 0.3 cents for monochrome and less than 0.10 cents for color prints.
Unfortunately, they do have some drawbacks. For an average home user, they are rather expensive to procure. On the other hand, for office use, they are rather slow to use.
7. Crafting Needs
When getting a printer for crafting and art, make sure your printer can support the required paper type.
For example, when using a thick paper like cardstock, you must make sure that your printer has the ability to handle it without getting jammed.
You will notice that when it comes to crafting and artwork, inkjets will be the way to go. On top of that, usually the single function specialized inkjets make for the best printers in this category.
Note that some of these specialized printers can get very expensive.
If you find yourself always on the go and you want a printer to accompany either for work or for printing out your photos, then a portable printer would be a good investment.
A full sized portable printer with battery is a rare and expensive find. However, if you need a simple pocket photo printer for printing out your selfies and other travel photos on the spot, then you can find plenty for cheap.
9. Specialized Needs
Some of you may have very specialized needs.
For example, those working in engineering and architectural firms would require wide format printers ranging for A3 (11×17″) printing all the way to 40″ poster and chart printing plotters.
Similarly, those who want to label their products in their store or for shipping will need to find specialized label printers etc.
The good news is, that you can certainly find one that can cater to your specific needs.
10. Special Ports / Connectivity Required
Connectivity is one of the top requirements for many. Some of you may want a robust network connectivity, other may be looking for a certain kind of port.
For example, those with older industrial machines may only support printers that have parallel port.
Similarly, if you need ease-of-use with mobile printing, you may look for NFC connectivity in a printer.
11. Certain Features Required
Some printers have features that you may need.
Features like duplex printing for double sided printing, support for Airprint or Google Cloud Print are all special features that you cannot find on all printers.
I hope this offered some clarity in finding the best printer for yourself. Now, this list of features to look out for is not exhaustive but it contains some of the most important features you need to consider before making the purchase decision.
Committing to a device that you will need to use for a long time can be daunting. The same case goes for printers. And, since there are many things that you need to consider, to make it easy for you to decide, I will summarize it to this. Consider your use case. How will the printer be put to work in your ideal environment? This should include the features you need.
Also, consider your working budget.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.