- Choosing the right one for your needs
This article has been written to help buyers to identify the various choices available and to make a sensible selection of ink printer. It is aimed at users who may not have a lot of technical expertise but who can, with a little help from articles like this, get the best equipment for their needs.
It is written in New Zealand, for Ndew Zealaners, and while the information may be useful in other countries, it is not intended for use outside New Zealand.
If you already have an ink printer see the related article "Printer Ink - Choosing the right cartridge for your needs".
This article covers the broad range of general purpose document/photo printers and multifunction devices available as at January 2006. It does not consider specialised printers such as dye sublimation photo printers or A3 machines.
This article does not go into the detail of various printer makes and models. Rather it gives general information and broad price bands for you to consider. When buying, you need to talk specifics with a person experienced in the field.
What do you do?
The first thing you need to decide is how much printing you will do. If you only print off a few emails and occasional photos your printer will be less sophisticated than if you print a lot of text and photos.
If you have a special project, such as a family history with a lot of photos and text, or if you are developing digital photography as a hobby then your needs may be different again.
You may need a printer for business, need colour but can't afford a colour laser printer. There are options.
Thinking about these issues at this stage is really important. Current prices range from $105 up to $899 and there is no point in spending more than you need to get the printer that suits you.
Printer or Multifunction?
A multifunction device - print/scan/photocopy and sometimes fax can be a good investment. My advice generally is to leave the fax function out of your consideration unless you really need it.
The print scan copy option can really suit those people who want to scan in photos, archival material, and specialist items such as patterns or designs for a particular purpose. These machines can also really suit someone who needs a photocopier but can not justify the expense of a stand alone machine.
Generally, if you are a single user and you have a need for the scanner or copier then a multifunction can be a good choice.
In a network environment with two or more users you may find conflicts between users and functions. In these cases it is often handy to have another printer so that, if the multifunction is tied up doing (say) photocopying, other users can still print.
The price bands below are an approximate guide only. Occasionally a very good machine will fall into the lower price range and, not as often, a poor machine will be higher priced.
Around $200 and under
Both printers and multifunction devices in this class tend to have two ink cartridges - 1 black - 1 tri colour - slower print speeds and lower resolution. One manufacturer offers a line of multifunction devices which include a fax and have separate ink tanks for each colour but they are the exception in this part of the market.
This class of machine is good for people who print a few emails a week, the occasional page off the internet and a few photos. You probably won't get direct photo printing from your camera and/or phone but you will get printers that will take a camera card. In general terms do not expect to get a long life from these machines. If you buy an extended warranty make sure that the whole machine is covered, including the print head.
Around $200 to $450
Some real choices and features emerge in this class. Most machines have separate ink tanks so that you only change the colour you run out of, higher speeds, high resolution, automatic double sided printing, printing direct to printable DVDs and CDs and multiple paper input options are all common. Also, printing direct from cameras and mobile phones without going through the computer.
This is the most popular price band as you can get excellent machines for most purposes without spending a fortune.
$450 and up
Generally there are no more features than in the preceding class. Machines in this area get faster, with higher resolution and, in particular, photo printing speeds can go up markedly.
At the top end you have multifunction devices which will scan from negatives and 35mm slides and these features appeal those who wish to preserve photos and/or to use old photos in publications.
As in most markets you get what you pay for and, except when you are buying at the most basic level, it pays to do your homework and talk to experienced people about what you may really need.
If you have never owned a printer before start somewhere near the bottom and learn what it is you want to do. It's better to start with something you can move up from than to spend hundreds of dollars on the wrong machine.
If you are buying a new computer and it has a printer or multifunction bundled with it, be careful. Most bundled machines are at the lower end and may not suit your needs. If you don't want what's in the bundle see if you can either break it or get an upgrade. Remember, if you are not happy with the bundle you don't have to buy it. If you really like the computer and/or other aspects of the bundle just put the printer, unopened, on an internet auction site, get what you can for it, and buy the printer you really want separately.
About the Author
David Hickman has been involved with computer printers, and ink and toner cartridges since January 1994.
Ink supplied by the company, Second Image Ltd, includes a mixture of compatible ink cartridges (Brother, Canon, Epson Hewlett Packard and Lexmark) refilled ink cartridges (Hewlett Packard) and ink refill kits for the end user.
Compatible ink cartridges are supplied direct from the manufacturer who is an American Chinese joint venture. It took nearly a year to find the right supplier and, in just over two years, (January 2006) there have been no problems of any significance.
Hewlett Packard ink cartridges are refilled on the premises using state of the art vacuum filling equipment and ink imported from an American manufacturer. All refilled cartridges are tested before packaging for sale.
As well as ink Second Image supplies paper, including ink jet photo paper, laser printer and fax toner cartridges, new printers and fax machines and printer servicing and repair. Thanks to the internet the business now has customers throughout NZ.
How to contact us?
Phone Second Image on 0800 243 852 or email email@example.com if you need help with anything that you have read in this article, or help with your printer or printer consumable queries.
This is a 'Shareware' Article
(what's that? read on...) This article is shareware. Give this article away for free on your site, or include it as part of any paid package as long as the entire article is left intact including this notice. You have permission to change any links within the article body to link to your own web site but you must leave the "About the Author" section and "How to contact us" section unchanged. Copyright January 2006, David Hickman.
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