Holiday homework. Scanned invoices. Flight tickets. Or even a note saying “Dear neighbour,
congratulations on your wedding but the thin walls make it hard to sleep at night”.Whatever you
need to print, there’s a home printer that can do it for you. The intense competition among
manufacturers like HP, Epson, Canon and others has forced prices to such absurd lows that you
can now walk into a store or log in, and walk out with a brand new printer for 3,000 bucks or
even less. This has made the convenience of owning a home printer a no brainer.
But deciding which printer is best can be tough – given so many options – especially with all the
convoluted terms that can complicate the process. With that in mind, we’ve put together a
quick-and-dirty printer buying guide for selecting a home printer, with simple explanations
of the most common terms and our recommendations that will serve a majority of users.
Laser vs ink?
What and how much you plan on printing. Answer this, and filtering the options becomes much easier.
Color inkjet printers comprise the bulk of the market simply because they can print just about anything: essays, pie charts, or glossy photos, you name it. But printed text from inkjets doesn’t always look as sharp as from a laser printer, they’re typically slower, and in some cases they cost more to keep running.
Laser printers dominate in offices because they can print large volumes of text quickly,
reliably, and on the cheap. And besides looking sharper than text from an inkjet,
laser printouts won’t smudge. Color lasers have also fallen into the range of affordability
for consumers recently, but the cost of replacing color laser toners can be prohibitively high,
often making them a poor option for home use.
#ProTip: Confused whether to buy a Mono or Color printer ?If you mostly print in B&W,
consider outsourcing the color printing. Colour printers won’t let you print B&W with a
full black toner if the other colors are low.
Unless you plan on printing novels or page after page of school reports, inkjet printers
usually make the best bet for home users due to their flexibility. If you need to print a lot
of pages, and print them fast, a laser printer is worth considering. They do carry a premium
in price over inkjet features with similar speed but often add more functionality such as
One thing to keep in mind in making your decision is that recently, inkjet printers have
been introduced with higher capacity ink cartridges and ink tanks with refilling bottles
that bring down the cost to as low as 10p a page!. Printers like Hp’s newer Officejet Ink printer
series provide, laser like speeds, with automatic duplexers( prints both sides of the page
automatically), and ADF Scanners (scans a bundle of papers by automatically feeding them
to the scanner).
The inktank system is easy to refill and looks sleek but is limited to entry level printers
which don’t offer a host of features which you might need. The technology is fairly new
but we’re hoping a significant boost in the features of these printers, and we’ll keep you
posted as and when that happens.
Both laser and inkjet printers are available with a
scanner bed on the top of the unit, turning them into
all-in-one (AIO) machines: printer, copier, scanner,
and/or fax (also called a multifunction printer, or MFP).
Although you might not need all the functions,
buying an all-in-one printer for home use makes a lot
of sense, not only because it’s cheaper than buying a
printer and a standalone scanner, but also for the sake
of saving room. Since all-in-ones are extremely common
and manufacturers rarely charge much of a premium for
them (you can often find one for as little as 4,000-5,000)
we highly recommend them for home users.
Note: Print only models are already on the verge of being phased out. Soon it won’t even be a bother to consider as MFP’s have become more economical to manufacture.
Remember the mantra “give away the razor, sell the blades”? That century-old business
model is still alive and well in the printer business, where many companies entice
consumers with unimaginably low prices on their budget printers, knowing they can
milk them over and over again when it’s time to replace the ink cartridges.
Research the cost of replacement supplies before you buy any printer to know what
you’re in for when the initial cartridges finally run dry. Depending on how often you plan
to print, it can actually be worth it to purchase a more expensive printer in order to
buy into a cheaper line of cartridges.
This may seem daunting but you can simply drop us a mail @ firstname.lastname@example.org
and we will do this for you.
#Pro tip: The standard yield mentioned on toners and ink cartridges are based on a
standardized test. Sample pages which cover 5% of the page are printed until the ink
runs out, providing the standard yield. Therefore the amount of pages you get will
depend on the amount of text or graphics on your print.
Duplexing (Two-Side Printing or Scanning)
One feature that’s becoming very common, and that we consider a big plus, is
automatic duplexing. Duplexing refers to printing or scanning both sides of the
page without requiring that you manually flip the page over. On a printer, duplexing
is accomplished by printing the first side of the page, pulling the page back through
the printer, flipping it over, and printing the other side.
Many all-in-one devices with an automatic document feeder (ADF) for the scanner
also have duplexing, scanning both sides of the page as the document feeds through
the ADF. An all-in-one without an automatic document feeder can’t duplex scan with
you turning the page over on the scan glass.
Duplex scanning is a major convenience if you frequently scan two-sided pages, like
those torn from a magazine. And duplex printing is almost a must these days, helping
you save paper when single-side printing isn’t necessary.
The Skinny: A Flatbed scanner won’t duplex scan but an ADF scanner will.
Left to Right: A Flatbed Scanner, Auto Document Sheet Feeder scanner
Today, nearly every printing
device offers multiple connectivity
options thanks to a multiple types
of wireless printing technology being
developed. Because USB is generally
a short, direct connection, it requires
that the printer or AIO be located near
the PC or laptop. Wireless solves all of that!
But most new printers can now be
shared by multiple devices via a network.
That could be via Ethernet, where you connect
a cable to the router or switch in your network.
Ethernet also provides the faster connection. However, this wired setup is more common in an
office environment than in the home, so few printers except those in the high-end will have an
Ethernet port built-in.
Wi-Fi is more common. It has become the most popular method of home
networking, and just about every new printer sold for home or small business is a
Wireless Printer. Many even offer one-button wireless setup (if the router it’s being
connected to supports it), making network pairing a snap. A new option called Wi-Fi
Direct lets you connect the printer to a laptop that supports it, without having to
connect the printer to a network first. Wi-Fi is also used to connect many new
smartphones, tablets, and digital cameras by select printers that support mobile device
printing, such as Apple’s AirPrint protocol.
#Protip: While sharing a printer without networking capabilities via your computer
and home wifi is easy, it will also require you to keep the computer powered on while printing.
Although Paper Handling is a concern seldom home users need to hassle themselves with, but you can never rule it out completely. Let’s say you print on regular A4 and Legal paper, or A4 and glossy photo paper interchangeably. Taking out one set of papers from the tray and then replacing it with another can often get tiresome, so getting a printer with two dedicated trays for each can simplify the process to selecting the tray from which to print in your printing options.
Speed, Resolution, and Color Claims
It used to be fairly easy for a printer manufacturer to make outrageous claims about
how fast their printers were or what you could expect as far as page yield from an ink
or toner cartridge is concerned.
Today, nearly all vendors use a standardized set of tests developed and licensed to
them by the International Standards Organization. The ISO test protocols provide a
level playing field – all the claims and ratings are developed using the same document
sets and the same test procedures. The speed of the printers varies depending on the
complexity and if the print is color or Mono (B&W).
The speed is expressed at Pager Per Minute or PPM.
The fly in the ointment is that these sets are what the ISO determines to be the typical
kinds of documents used by an average business user. How applicable these results are
to you will be is impossible to judge, especially if you make a lot of photo or graphics
printing, which slow down a printer significantly and burn through ink.
So use these specs as a basis for comparing one device with another, not as something
you’ll necessarily experience in your use of the printer. And before you decide to give
us or your vendor a call, read reviews and independent evaluations, and if possible,
see actual printouts at a retail store to decide for yourself how quick a printer is, or how
good the image looks. If you have settled on a specific machine you wish to order or
have any questions please free to comment below or e-mail us.