Choosing a printer is not an easy task. We have prepared a detailed guide to help you do it.
HOW TO CHOOSE A PRINTER: TIPS FROM THECONSUMERREPORTSGUIDE EXPERTS
Printers in a nutshell
Printers and multifunctional devices have become commonplace in most homes, and it is impossible to imagine an office without this equipment. Printers are indispensable tools for school and college students, business owners, accountants, marketing professionals, photographers and anyone else who needs to print. Unlike printers, MFPs can also print, scan and make copies. Some models are equipped with a fax machine, which increases their importance as an office work tool.
Regular Printer or MFP? The choice depends on your tasks. If you need a scanner, a fax machine and a copier for your work, buy a multifunction device – it’s cheaper than buying them separately. And if you will only use the print function, opt for regular printers.
In this article, we’ll talk about printers. We’ll tell you about printing technologies, paper sizes, resolutions, and other characteristics that you need to consider when choosing a printer for home and corporate printing.
Printing technologies: what are they and how do they differ?
Some PU are designed for printing text, others for printing photos, and others for printing color images on fabric. It depends on the printing technology:
- Matrix (needlepoint) – printers print in one color. However, their consumables are cheap, so PUs are used at businesses that need inexpensive streaming printing (banks, hotels, ticket offices, supermarkets);
- Laser – they are fast and produce crisp color or black and white prints. Toner is used as the ink. The prints are resistant to moisture and friction, and do not burn out in the sun;
- Inkjet – printers are slower than laser printers, but they convey shades well;
- Sublimation – PU prints pictures and inscriptions on fabric, prints photos. They work only with special paper and ink in ribbons;
- LED (LED) – the principle of the printers has a similarity with the laser models. But unlike the latter, they use LEDs, not laser. They are inferior to laser analogues in speed of operation;
- Solid ink – designed for high-speed color printing and can work with paper of different weights. The printers use wax-based dry ink. Due to the individual shape of each color bar, they cannot be installed in “someone else’s” socket.
For home and corporate printing, inkjet and laser printers are more suitable. So let’s elaborate on their advantages and disadvantages.
In “inkjet” printers, the image is formed from microscopic drops of ink that fly out of the print head through nozzles under pressure.
Important to know! There are two methods of ink supply: piezoelectric and thermal jet. The first method is based on the properties of piezo crystals. Under the action of electric current the piezo element deforms and pushes the drop onto the paper. It is used in Epson printers. Thermo-jet technology involves heating the ink and partially releasing it onto the media through a nozzle by forming a gas bubble. It is used in Hewlett-Packard printers. A special technology is Canon’s. It is based on the same method of ink jetting, but the thermocouple is not behind the nozzle but in a channel at the side. The company itself calls this technology Bubble Jet.
Inkjet images are characterized by rasterization. They consist of many dots of different colors. This guarantees smooth tonal transitions and accurate color reproduction.
Most models of inkjet printers and MFPs can be equipped with CISS – a continuous ink supply system. With CISS, the user does not have to worry about replacing cartridges for a long time.
Good to know! Only recently on the market appeared printers with a factory CISS. Instead of cartridges, they have built-in ink tanks that can be refilled. The purchase is justified both for home and office use.
Pros of inkjet printers:
- Excellent color reproduction;
- Work with different types of paper, including glossy paper;
- Cheaper than laser models;
- You can install a CISS.
Disadvantages of inkjet printers:
- Prints are sensitive to water and sunlight;
- Speed is slower than laser, which is not very convenient when printing multi-page prints;
- High cost of consumables (in most cases);
- Ink can dry out inside the nozzle if the PU is not used for a long time.
Laser models use a laser beam to create prints, which projects an image of the page onto a rotating drum. The image is formed with toner, which is sintered by a heating element, leaving a durable, clear print on the sheet.
Good to know! Toner is a finely dispersed powder of different colors used in monochrome and color laser printers.
Laser models are not well suited for printing photographs. Toners of different colors do not mix well, so images do not look realistic.
Pros of laser printers:
- They print faster than inkjet models;
- Prints are durable, “not afraid” of water and light;
- The average cartridge lasts for printing 1500-2000 sheets, which is significantly higher than the life of “jet” printers – up to 200 sheets;
- Easily withstand periods of downtime, because the powder in the cartridge does not dry out.
Minuses of laser printers:
- Can’t install a CISS;
- High power consumption because of the fuser, which needs to heat up to work.
What is the maximum paper size to choose?
Most printers work with A4 paper (210 × 297 mm). They are suitable for printing documents, pupils’ and students’ papers, and books.
PUs are also in demand:
- A3/A3+ (297 × 420 mm) – used in publishing houses, advertising agencies, design and architectural companies;
- A6 (105 × 148 mm) and A8 (52 × 74 mm) – designed for the production of photographs, business cards, pocketbooks. Portable printers usually work with this size of paper.
For printing on the largest paper sizes – A0, A1, A2 – large-format printers (or plotters) are designed. They are suitable for creating drawings, diagrams, calendars, posters, posters.
Color: black and white vs. color
A distinction is made between monochrome (black and white) and color printers. The former are suitable for printing only text and tabular material, while the latter are suitable for printing color illustrations and photos.
Maintenance of a color printer is more expensive than a monochrome printer, because you have to buy more than one ink. So, depend on your needs. If you do not plan to print color images, then choose a monochrome PU.
Important to know! 4-color inkjet and laser printers are widespread. For various household needs this is enough, but if you want to print photos, then choose 6-, 9- or 12-color models.
What is print resolution (DPI)?
Printer resolution refers to the maximum number of dots per inch of an image. DPI is usually written in one or two digits, such as 600 DPI or 600 × 600.
The higher the resolution of the printer, the more detailed the image will be. For printing text and graphics, a 600 × 600 or 600 × 1200 DPI would be fine. For clear photographs, you need a printer with a higher DPI – about 2400 × 1200, 4800 × 1200 or even 5760 × 1440.
Connectivity technologies and interfaces
- USB. A popular way to connect the PU to your computer. Using the USB interface you can connect a USB flash drive or HDD.
- Ethernet. The Ethernet cable connection allows several computers on the network to work with the printer at the same time. This is very convenient for co-working rooms, offices and other places where you have to print for many people from different computers
- Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi enabled printers can print documents from any device connected to a wireless network.
- Bluetooth. The technology allows you to print from smartphones and tablets without having to connect your mobile gadget to a PC.
- NFC. The technology makes it easy for the printer to communicate with portable devices that also support it. All you have to do is bring an NFC-enabled gadget to the printer and confirm the connection. In some models, you can send materials to print right away in this way.
What can modern printers do?
We have compiled the most popular options that modern printers can have.
- Card reader. Allows you to print documents directly from a memory card.
- Automatic borderless printing function. Comes in handy for those who print photos, illustrations, art and design projects.
- Supports two-sided stand-alone printing (duplex). There are laser and inkjet printers that print on both sides of the enclosed sheet. This simplifies the creation of brochures, booklets, and also optimizes paper consumption when printing multi-sheet student and student papers.
- Photo Correction Function. Allows you to correct pictures while printing, such as removing “red-eye”, cropping the image, to make color correction at the printer before sending it to print.
- Cloud Print Support. Lets you print from virtual data storage.
Which manufacturer should I choose?
Brands such as Samsung, Epson, Canon, HP, Brother, and Xerox invest billions of dollars in equipment development. The companies implement innovative “features” and create progressive PUs. That is why they are market leaders. However, a decent model can be found in the catalog and other companies, such as Pantum, OKI, Lexmark.
Which printer is suitable for printing photographs?
Accuracy and natural reproduction of shades – one of the main requirements that users have for photo printers. Consider the following when choosing:
- The higher the resolution, the more detailed the picture.
- The number of colors is at least 6. This will smooth transitions of colors and better reproduce the shades.
- The format should be А6, А4 or А3/A3+ (if you plan to print photos in a wide format).
- PictBridge/Card Reader/Bluetooth allows you to print from your camera, smartphone or tablet without connecting to a PC.
- You need the photo correction function to edit images before printing.
Which printer is right for the office?
Both inkjet and laser printers or MFPs are suitable for the office. If high quality prints and realistic color reproduction are a priority, order an inkjet. In other cases, laser models will do.
Pay attention to these nuances:
- To display text and tabular information, you can limit yourself to a monochrome version, and if you have to print presentations and photos – it is better to buy a color one.
- The more prints you want to make, the faster and more productive the model should be.
- If more than one person is going to use the PU, choose models with wireless connectivity.
What is the right printer for my home?
The answer to the question depends on the tasks that the home printer is going to perform:
- If the printer will be used occasionally and only for printing text documents, choose laser models. You won’t have a problem with them, even if you print two or three pages a month.
- For photos and color graphics, inkjet models are fine. They have excellent color reproduction.
- For the “home” office, it is worth choosing an MFP.
The best home printer – according to our expert(TheConsumerReportsGuide)reviews
- Canon Pixma TS9120 Printer
- HP LaserJet Pro M15w Printer
- HP Envy 5055 printer
- Epson WorkForce WF-7210DTW Printer
- Kyocera ECOSYS P5026 printer
- Brother MFC-J5945DW printer
- Samsung Xpress C1810W Printer
- Brother HLL2395DW compact black and white laser printer
- Brother MFC-INKvestment J995DW printer
- Epson EcoTank ET-3760 printer
We hope that our material will help you choose the right printer.