A printer is an output device for reproducing text and image from a computer screen onto a piece of paper. Recent advances in technology mean that these devices have more functionalities than ever although the ink-jet, laser, portable, dot-matrix and all-in-one printers are still the most popular.
Ink-jet printers are mostly found in homes alongside a personal computer. They are not very expensive and can print in both coloured and black/white formats. The laser-jet printers, on the other hand, are more expensive and are commonly used in office environments due to their higher rate of printing and longevity.
Portable printers are much cheaper, transportable and sometimes battery-powered although they are best used for plain text printing. The dot matrix printers are mostly used for printing out receipts. They can be found in shops and retail outlets due to their limited functionality. Meanwhile, the all-in-one printers are growing in popularity; they usually come with scanners, photocopiers, picture readers, memory card readers, and fax machines.
With so many choices available, the process of buying a new printer can be sometimes difficult and confusing. However, making the right choice could become a lot easier by carefully considering the following questions.
- Do you know enough about your needs and requirements for the new gadget? Doing some kind of research and finding out as much information as possible before paying for a new printer is extremely important to avoid wasting money. This could be done by visiting various manufacturers’ and price comparison websites, reading reviews or speaking to a sales representative at your local retail store.
- How much are you willing to pay? When buying a printer one must have a realistic budget. There is no absolutely any need to pay for a printer that exceeds your requirement as prices can vary from reasonable to ridiculous.
- Is the new printer going to be compatible with your computer’s operating system (OS)? Note that not all printers will work with a Windows, Linux or Mac OS so it is important to double check.
- Does the printer come with after-sale support? Check to see whether the new gadget has a warranty, breakdown cover or return policy in case of unexpected damage.
- How much will it cost to replace the printer or cartridges? Many printers, particularly ink-jets, are usually cheaper to buy than to maintain. Make sure replacement cartridges are affordable.
- How easy is it to understand and operate the equipment? A new printer should be easy to operate.
- Do you travel a lot? If are intend to use the printer mostly as a hand-luggage, you are advised to purchase a lightweight one.
- Can the printer be upgraded? If the printer will be used on a long-term basis then you must know that not all printers have upgrade options.
- Is the printer going to be used to print large volumes of graphics and text? If yes, how fast can it print? Consider the memory size, type of processor, and the number of pages it prints per minute (ppm).
- Does the manufacturer provide sample printing facilities? Always ask to print and compare samples before buying a printer especially if you are doing so at a retail store as many manufacturers’ provide spare printers for this purpose.