In my experience over the past 15+ years of servicing home users I have had the luxury, privilege, (or misfortune) of working on many types of printers as well as many different types of issues. Some of the more popular printers include HP, Canon, Brother, Lexmark, Kodak, Xerox and others.
In addition, I have seen a lot of uses for printers, one of the biggest uses has been greeting cards! I have a lot of older customers that like to customize their greeting cards and print their own cards out. This is a popular use.
I get the question all the time about ‘what printer should I get?”, therefore I thought I would put together this article to give my viewpoints on printers. Hopefully this helps.
There are 2 main types of printers:
these are the most common printers you see offered because they are cheap printers. Key points for these include:
- cheap upfront cost. These can be free when you buy a computer or start at $50 and up
- they use multiple cartridges that cost anywhere from $35 and up
- these cartridges usually only print around 500-700 copies (if your lucky)
- the life expectancy of these are low. You must use them often and don’t expect them to last more than a few months. If you go away and don’t use them for a month or two it’s possible for them to dry up and no longer work
These are less visible when you look at printer deals or if you go to the store and look at printers. The reason is they cost more money upfront. Not only do they cost more, but replacement cartridges cost more also.
- Cartridges will cost more, about $75 and up
- However you got about 1500 to 3000 pages for a single cartridge
- Plus the cartridge NEVER goes bad. You can not use that cartridge for a year and then print and it will be fine, no issues with printing since it’s a dry powder that is used to generate the print
- The quality is MUCH higher than inkjet. The quality of page is excellent
When buying a printer, consider these options as it will determine what is best for your usage:
Type of Connection
- how will you connect printer to device(s)?
- If you want to connect multiple devices to that printer, and you want the easiest solution, then go with wifi printer.
- If you only have one device and the printer is located next to it, then wifi connection is not needed. You can connect a cable from PC to printer and you are fine.
- If your techie, and the printer is located near the router, then you can select a printer that has Ethernet and connect it to the printer and then devices can be setup to see the printer via the network
If you want to have the ability to make copies or scan (or even fax!) than go with an “All in One” machine. These have those other abilities built in. One option to consider if replacing a printer and you have an all-in-one machine already and space in your house is to keep your all in one machine for scanning and get a laser jet for printing. This lets you find a less expensive laser printer that is a printer only.
Color or Black & White?
Do you need color or is black and white sufficient? If color is not needed, there is a big price difference. Black and white laser printers are a lot less to purchase than color printers. Plus when you replace cartridges you will find a big price advantage of buying just 1 black cartridge instead of 4 color cartridges.
What do I recommend?
Everyone has a unique situation to what they use and what they need. However in general I find I almost always recommend a Laser Printer. The quality is always far superior, they last longer, the cost for the supplies is more upfront, but they last longer. I prefer to buy cartridges 1x a year at most and sometimes more like every 18 months. I can’t recall any time that I have recommended an ink jet printer.
As for brand, I usually recommend HP, Canon, Brother, Lexmark. They are all the same, not much different. And no one is better than another.
For more detailed information from a good 3rd party is Tom’s Guide to Hardware. They have been around for years and offer solid advice. Check out their blog entry on differences here.