Buying a printer can be a challenge, especially with so many makes, designs, and styles available. How do you begin to sort through them all and find out what you actually need? The sheer amount can be overwhelming!
Looking at what the printer will be used for and then finding one to suit is the best way to start looking for your new printer. Printers fall into a few general categories, and knowing what printer does what is a great way to get started.
Multi-function printers are machines that do more than one job, often at the very least they will print and scan (and copy). These printers are fantastic for small spaces, with one machine taking the space of may others they are great space savers and often their cost will be greatly reduced when compared to buying separate machines.
The downside of the multifunction printer is while they do a lot, they may not do it to the same quality that seperate machines can, and often they are marketed for the home user, so may not be suitable for heavy use.
Home & Small Office Printers
Printers that are to be used in the home or small office situations need to be more adaptable than the standard printer as they will be doing a bit of everything. And they will be handling a variety of tasks, so they need to be robust and willing to handle the load.
In selecting the printer think about where it will fit, how much paper will it take, and how long will the ink last? There is more to a printer than its functions, access ports, cables (or WiFi) and service requirements are all important to consider. If the printer is a replacement make a list of what you don’t like, or need to improve on your current model.
Office & Business Printers
Moving on from the small office and into fully functional business models can have its own requirements. Now the printer will be used by many people, instead of one or two, and the printer will need to cater for various skill levels of users. Usability is now the most important function to find, can the printer be used by everyone in the office?
Getting feedback from your employees can give valuable insight to what problems or functions the printer needs to have. Another consideration is how does the printer fit with your business goals and guidelines, does it’s environmental impact (recyclable ink cartridges) align with your current identity?
Scanners are perfect for sending a document by email (and have almost ended the age of the FAX). Generally scanners are two types, flatbeds and automatic document feeders (ADF), flatbeds are generally cheaper, but can be labor intensive when scanning more than one page. ADF’s can also be one-sided or two-sided (simplex and duplex) for scanning both sides of a page, consider if what you scanned is printed both sides.
Other considerations include, speed (how fast it scans), maximum page width (can it handle bigger than strandar A4?), resolution (how clear the image is, especially important for images and signatures.), and network connectivity (how many computers can use it?).
Receipt & Label Printers
Receipt printers are usually limited to one task, and often they take one size of paper. Requirements to consider include cost of paper, and mobility. Do you need to take the printer out of the office? How fast does it print? Keeping a customer waiting for a receipt what you have people waiting can see potential customers walking out the door.
Label printers are similar to receipt printers in that they usually are suited to just one job. If you are printing a variety of labels, check to see how adaptable the printer is. Will the printer support the thickness of the labels? And how fast can it complete the job? A fast printer can sometimes compromise on quality, therefore you may need to choose between speed and clarity.
Printer Ink, Cartdridges & Paper
Printer ink is the largest ongoing cost of any printer, examine closely the cost per page of any printer. If you produce many colour copies, see if the printer has separate chambers or an all in one - meaning when you run out of blue you either replace the blue, or all of the colours.
The paper you feed into the printer is as important as the ink, you need quality paper to get good prints. Many manufacturers will recommend a certain type of paper to get the best results out of their printers, and if you are producing copies for others, having a perfect copy can really impress!