How do you know what kind of printer to buy to replace your old one? That’s a toughie, there seem to be so many good machines out there to choose from – and then how do you decide which BRAND to buy? Decisions, decisions! If you find yourself in this position perhaps this article will help, but you should read it all the way to the end because there’s a LOT of useful information here for you.
First, we need to shop for a printer with all the information we have at our disposal. Answer the following questions:
1. Do you need color or will a black/white (monochrome) printer meet your needs
a. Will you need to use a highlighter on your printed pages
b. Will you need to make a sharp crease or fold in your pages
2. What options do you need on your printer – print, copy, scan, fax, automatic document feeder, bypass tray, etc.
3. What do you intend to print most often – photos or documents
a. Do you want to print glossy photos or is matt/flat finish ok
4. How many pages per month do you intend to print
a. What is the maximum size of paper you need to print on
b. What is the maximum paper weight you need to print on
5. What is your budget for the new printer
a. What is your budget for replacement cartridges
Determining the answer to the above questions will REALLY help you narrow the field of prospective options. The information below corresponds to the number/letter above:
1. If you only need black/white then a laser printer is your best option. If you need to print color you actually have 3 options; inkjet, color laser and solid ink (for higher-volumes only… far too expensive for the once in a while color print).
a. If you need to use a highlighter your best options are; laser or solid ink – neither will smear. Most inkjet printed pages will smear (even over time) if a highlighter is used on them because they are water based.
b. If you need to make sharp creases or folds in your printed pages then inkjet or laser would be your best options – solid ink is actually melted wax and will crack and flake off when creased.
2. Don’t buy a machine you’re not going to be happy with and don’t buy individual machines if one main machine will solve most of your needs in far less space. You may or may not need more than a basic printer, but a wise buyer will take each of these features into consideration and price out the machine that will meet those needs.
3. Whether you are printing documents or photos/images any of the above options will serve you well however, the finish is going to have a big impact on your choices:
a. A color laser printer will only give you matt/flat finish on your photos regardless of the paper you use.
b. An inkjet printer will offer a wide array of finishes and will also vary depending on the paper you use.
c. A solid ink printer will give beautiful magazine quality images, but cannot print as finely as inkjet.
Knowing the approximate pages per month that you
intend to print will help you determine the correct “level” of machine. There
is; home-use, small-medium business use, and high-volume use along with a wide
margin of between-grade printers to meet market needs. All too often we find
folks with mid-level laser printers at home and small to medium size businesses
using home-use printers thinking they’re saving money.
If you’re using a full ream of paper monthly that’s 500 pages (unless of course you’re printing on both sides), and a full case of paper is 10,000 (one-sided) pages. Most business-grade printers will list the machine’s “Duty Cycle” – you should not print more than 75% of the duty cycle, if you do you’re over-working the printer and should upgrade, your printer will last longer and most likely require fewer service calls.
a. If you need to print larger size pages (8-1/2 x 14, 11 x 17, etc.) you will eliminate MOST printers.
b. Read carefully the printer spec sheet to learn the maximum weight paper it can handle – some printers can handle paper all the way up to 140#, but that’s not common. If you’re printing cover-stock you’ll want a printer built to handle it, don’t try printing it on a cheap little inkjet printer.
5. Are you prepared to spend $100, $300, $500, $1,000 or more*? This is such an important question I was challenged with putting it first but I wanted to keep things in their proper order so here it is. Have this number in mind as you’re printer shopping and review it again when you’re closer to actually buying a machine because it will determine rather quickly what brand you’re going to buy.
a. As you are qualifying the printer, make sure you’re also qualifying the supplies for it. Make sure you understand CPP (Cost Per Page) and what cartridges are available for use in your new printer BEFORE you buy it! Also, you should know whether or not you are going to use a high-quality remanufactured cartridge, such as PrintCartridgePro.com provides, and if those specific cartridges are available in the remanufactured version or are on the R & D list with an expected release date. PrintCartridgePro.com is an excellent source for this information and should be the #1 go-to source for newly remanufactured cartridges due to their extensive research and testing and commitment to a flawless product BEFORE release – many of their competitors “TEST” ingredients on their unsuspecting customers… PrintCartridgePro.com NEVER does this – ALL testing is done in house and confirmed by an independent test-lab prior to release to the general public.
*Those of us in the printing industry are familiar with the pay now or pay later method the printer manufacturers have devised in order to get their money out of you one way or another. It works like this: you see a cheap printer (say $49) and so you buy it figuring you got a hot deal – then you find out it only comes with starter cartridges† so after about 50 pages or so you go to the store to buy inks for this printer only to find out a set of inks costs nearly as much as the printer did by itself (and typically these cheap machines only last a year or so and then they’re junk)! This happens allot! The printer companies also rig these cartridges up with microchipped expiration dates or a code inhibiting them from being remanufactured – they WILL get their money out of you! So, you can pay upfront or pay later – we recommend you pay upfront and here’s how that works: you see a NICE printer (say about $350) and it may or may not come with starter cartridges† but even so you have done your homework and found out these cartridges are already being remanufactured and you can buy them from PrintCartridgePro.com for a fraction of the cost of brand new name brand cartridges – and to make matters even better this is a LOT more printer than you need and will most likely serve you well for years to come! As we say – they’re going to get your money one way or the other… this is the best way to pay up!
†Not all new printers come with starter cartridges, some don’t come with cartridges at all! Some do come with full-size cartridges, but more often than not your new printer will come with starter cartridges which look, fit and print exactly like the full-size version but with far less ink or toner in them. It’s not a gimmick, and you can’t buy starter cartridges, it’s just the printer manufacturer’s way of getting you started with their new machine with as little out of their pocket as necessary to make the sale.
Some brands are better than others at certain things, and this too is a difficult thing to get a grip on, but with this article you will be far better prepared than most who just walk into the office supplies store and come out with a printer!
I will give you MY OWN interpretation of the printer brands that are available, every printer professional has their own opinion as to capabilities and qualities and serviceability of each brand – mine has been formulating since 1993 so I think I have a pretty good grasp on the market.
· Brother – ink or laser, monochrome or color – this is a low-end, entry-level, home-use/small-office machine. It’s typically on the lower end of cost and mid-range for life expectancy, but you can forget about service if you need it – practically nobody works on Brother printers. #2 for supplies availability.
· Canon – color inkjet is mid-range for quality but equal to HP. Color laser is excellent, small to mid-size office use, mid-range on cost and long-range on life expectancy, can be serviced by an HP technician because they’re the same basic printer (although I personally believe the Canon is built with more quality in mind). Laser printing supplies on par with HP, inkjet not as common.
· Dell – ink or laser, monochrome or color – this is a low to mid-range printer in every aspect, don’t expect much but it will get the job done. Mid-range for life expectancy and forget about service – nobody likes these things.
· Epson – color inkjet only (I don’t think they make anything else any longer). I believe Epson has the highest quality color print and is mid to high-range on cost. Life expectancy on these machines is quite good as well, but once again… forget about service. #3 for supplies availability.
· HP – color inkjet is #2 behind the Epson for print quality, low-end on life expectancy, but oddly enough can be serviced to some degree. All in all I would recommend an HP color inkjet before any other brand for the total score card (provided high-end color images are not a concern). #1 for supplies availability.
o The leader in monochrome and color laser printing, good quality, low to high-volume use machines, mid-range on cost and life expectancy with the highest score for serviceability. #1 for supplies availability.
· Kyocera-Mita – laser printing only – this is a mid to high-range cost printer with good print quality and a decent life expectancy, the problem here again is serviceability and supplies availability.
· Lexmark – ink or laser, monochrome or color – available in low to high-volume printing, not the best in terms of print quality but it gets the job done, mid to high-range in cost, good life expectancy and supplies availability, and decent serviceability.
· OKI – laser printing only – this is a mid to high-range cost printer with very good print quality and a decent life expectancy, the problem here again is serviceability and supplies availability.
· Samsung – monochrome or color laser – this is a low to mid-end, home-use/small to midsize-office machine. It’s typically on the lower end of cost and mid-range for life expectancy, but you can forget about service if you need it – practically nobody works on Samsung printers. #3 for supplies availability.
· Toshiba – laser printing only – this is a mid to high-range cost printer with good print quality and a decent life expectancy, the problem here again is serviceability and supplies availability.
· Xerox – laser printing and solid ink only – this is a mid to high-range cost printer with very good print quality and long life expectancy, service is limited in areas but high-priced, supplies availability can be an issue.
There are other printer brands, but so unpopular as to not even rate a rank in this informal document. If you are offered a Kodak, Konica-Minolta, Panasonic, Sharp, Sindoh or other brand inkjet or laser printer – AVOID IT!
For more information about printing issues contact:
PrintCartridgePro.com, https://www.printcartridgepro.com/crm.asp?action=contactus, Toll-Free 844-230-6384