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  • Buying guides

    Printer Buying Guide

    When choosing a printer there are a few questions you need to ask yourself first......

    Deciding on which printer is right for you requires a bit of thought.  It’s not just about selecting a brand you like, or the most compact or the cheapest. If you base your decision on factors such as these it’s likely to be a costly one.

    So the best way to get started is to ask yourself what you’ll be printing. Simple enough right? Identify what type of documents you’ll be printing. Do you need it to print colour? And, if so, is that for colour photographs or just to enhance business documents? All these answers will help determine the right printer for you.

    Now, you might not want it just for printing. You may want it to scan, copy and fax too.

    And there are other features to consider as well. Do you need it network enabled? Will the printer work with a wireless network? What about double-sided documents? Will it work well with a Mac? Will it print A3? You see, there are many questions that need to be answered it order for you to find the best printer for your needs. And, as a result, you’ll most likely eliminate most of the printers out of the equation.

    However, one vital question remains, and that is: HOW MANY PAGES WILL YOU BE PRINTING?

    This is the single most critical factor when choosing a printer. The volume of pages that you’ll usually print will impact the print speed and the paper capacity (how many paper trays will you need?) and there’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the printer before your job has printed, or worse still, finding out that the printer is out of paper when you go to collect your job.

    But above all else, the volume question is critical when it comes to costs.  You need a cost effective printer because, as we all know, the cost of toner, ink and drums – all the running costs – far exceed the cost of the printer.

    And here’s a little tip:  In general, the cheaper the original purchase price the more expensive it is to print each page.

    Let’s look at things in more detail below...

  • Running Costs

    How much your printer is going to cost you in the long run can be worked out with a simple equation.

    The cost to print each page is determined by the cost of replacement toner and ink cartridges (and any other consumables the user needs to fit e.g. drums) divided by the number of pages printed by each cartridge/drum. All manufacturers specify the number of pages you can expect to get from each cartridge, so it’s pretty easy to work out.

     These estimates, known as “yield”, are based on the assumption that each page is on average 5% covered in print. Obviously if your documents are denser in print coverage they’ll cost more, making a device with lower running costs even more economical.

  • Mono Single Function Laser Printers

    Remember, the first thing to ask yourself is what will I be printing?

    If the answer to that question is letters and other business documents, a mono laser printer is a perfect fit. It’s also the ideal desktop printer, as most A4 mono laser printers are compact and can therefore be within arm’s reach.

    Even though most mono laser printers have low running costs, it’s still a good idea to calculate the likely running costs to ensure you make the best choice. Quite often a slightly more expensive comparable model with lower running costs will recover the original price difference within a few months, making it the more cost effective solution over 3 or 4 years.

    Also, you should look out for warranties. Most of the cheaper mono laser printers come with a return-to-base warranty. If you can’t afford to be without your printer for a week or two, look for one that comes with an onsite warranty.

    And finally, don’t concern yourself with dpi print quality when looking at mono laser printers. This has little or no impact on black and white print quality.

  • Colour Single Purpose Laser Printers

    If you need to add a bit of colour to letters and business documents then a colour single purpose Laser Printer is for you. Now, don’t forget to think about your running costs here too. The cost of replacing toner cartridges is much more important with colour devices. Colour printers need 4 cartridges - Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow – that mix together to offer you an array of colours. So we’d advise that you don’t fall into the trap of buying a cheap model with high running costs. You’ll regret it later. You also need to consider dpi here, or dots per inch. A higher dpi will increase colour quality offering you a more professional looking document. However, if you’re looking for photo quality prints, then a colour laser printer is not the right choice for you. You need to start thinking about an inkjet printer. But more on that later. Like their mono counterparts these machines are designed to sit on a desk; however some are quite a bit larger so we recommend you check the dimensions prior to purchase.
  • Multi-Function Laser Printers

    The ideal machine for small business, these all-in-one-printers are ideal for printing, scanning and photocopying. Need a fax too? Keep in mind that not all multi-function printers feature a fax; so if that’s part of your requirement make sure it comes with a fax, because it’s not an option to be added later. Multi-Function Laser Printers come in Mono and Colour models and both are great for printing business documents and letters. If you’re looking at a Mono Multi-function Laser Printer, then don’t worry about dpi – it has little impact on black and white printing. With a Colour Multi-function Laser Printer know that a higher dpi will offer a higher quality colour print. Now, when it comes to scanning we suggest you look for a couple of useful scanning features that aren’t available on all machines: • Colour scanning – this is essential if you ever need to scan documents onto your network in colour. • The option to scan from “the glass’’ - in case you ever need to scan from a book or bound document. Another consideration when thinking of purchasing a Multi-function Laser Printer is size - many of these machines are much larger than mono laser printers so make sure you check the dimensions prior to purchase. Manufacturers may refer to them as ‘desktops’ when in reality they are too big for a standard office and are more suited to the general office or reception area. And, just as is the case with Single Purpose Laser Printers, make sure you account for the running costs and warranty considerations before you buy.
  • Inkjet Printers

    If you need to print photos or high definition images then an Inkjet Printer is best for you. However, you should know that for optimal results you also need to use photo quality paper. Now, you really need to consider running costs here. The high cost of printing each page makes them suitable only if the number of pages printed is very low. We’d also recommend that you don’t purchase a single cartridge inkjet printer. They don’t produce true colour and they’re much more expensive to run than models with multiple colour cartridges. If you’re looking to do more than just print then you’re in luck as most models also offer copy and scan functions. Merely want to print and that’s it? No problem, there are models that are designed only to print. Here’s a tip: Manufacturers sometimes list print speeds in their specifications which can be misleading if you intend to print photos. Photos take quite a bit longer.