Friday, October 13, 2006

Weekly Tip No 17 - Tips for choosing the right printer.

The price of laser printers and inkjet printers is making headline news these days. You can buy a laser printer for under $100, an inkjet printer under $50. So, maybe it is time to buy a new printer now, but which type and model of printer is good for you?
Here is a short list of things to consider before you make your purchase decision:
1. Your need - what do you do with your printer? printing photos? documents? artwork? How many pages do you need to print each month? If you want to print a lot of photos, you should consider the photo printers. The color output and printing quality are much better than the standard color inkjet printers. Laser printer is usually not good for printing photos but it is good for printing lot of documents.
2. Printer price - what is your budget? With the steep drop of printer price, you will have a lot of choices for under $100.
3. Functionality - if you are buying a photo printer, do you want it to be compatible with your digital camera so you can download the photos directly from the camera's memory card without connecting to your PC?
4. Resolution - printing quality at different settings (draft, normal, fine). Photos and artwork would obviously require a high resolution.
5. Printing speed - how many pages of photos/documents can it print per minutes?
6. Printer drivers and software support - does the printer manufacturer provide good technical support including easy to install printer drivers, free software?
7. Noise level - can the printer run quietly? It is also an indication of printer quality.
8. Cartridge design - if you are buying a color inkjet printer, does the printer use one color cartridge for all colors or does it use separate color cartridges? Using separate color cartridge means that you only need to replace one color cartridge if that color runs out of ink. It may save you money in the long run.
9. Print output - how many pages can each cartridge print? High yield cartridges are obviously better. It saves both cartridge expenses and reduce cartridge waste (good for the environment)
10. Printer head and cartridge design - some printer cartridges have smart chips installed or printer head incorporated. This makes it impossible to recycle / refill the original cartridges or use compatible replacement cartridges.
11. Taking pts 8, 9 and 10 into consideration, estimate your printer cost. If your cartridge is low yield and you are forced to buy expensive genuine name brand replacement cartridges, the printing cost can be substantial over a short period of time.

Remember the price of printer is a fixed, one time investment, but buying replacement cartridges is a variable, continuous expense. So don't just look at the price tag of a new printer, consider other variables. Having the flexibility of using different types of printer cartridges (such as the remanufactured or compatible cartridges, refill kits) is a clear advantage for users with a tight budget.

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