Buying a printer no longer means investing huge amounts of money. These days the price of most consumer printers is measured in tens of pounds, rather than hundreds. Nor is quality as variable as it used to be: while more expensive models usually do deliver better results, even relatively inexpensive printers perform much better than their predecessors of five or ten years ago.
All of which makes choosing a printer much easier than it used to be. Nonetheless, when you’re buying new printer, a little homework will help you to get the best machine for you. Here are three tips to help you in your printer purchase.
If the printer is for home use only, you want a machine which is easy to use and low cost to run, so that you can afford to print off school projects and web page information without it costing you a fortune. Be wary of manufacturers who use a three-colours-in-one ink cartridge; when one colour runs out in theses printers, the cartridge is finished. Look for manufacturers whose printers have the print head built in, so that when you finish one colour, you simply replace that ink tank; this is a much cheaper option.
These days, it’s cheap and easy to buy a multi-function device; i.e. a machine that is a scanner, copier and printer all in one. These machines will print documents from your PC, but will also allow you to scan documents into the computer and photocopy material too. All of the major manufacturers offer these types of machines, and prices are very competitive. What you need to check out is the cost of owning and using the machine (see point 1 above).
There are two different types of photo printers. Some machines use a ribbon technique called ‘dye sublimation printing’. These produce a very high quality print which is equivalent to, or even better than, that produced by traditional photo processing in shops. However, with these machines, you are limited in the sizes that you can print, and it can also be expensive.
The alternative is inkjet printers. To be able to print high quality photos you must have at least six colours available, and some of the top end printers now use up to 10 different colour cartridges. If you use these inks and good quality inkjet photo paper, you can achieve stunning results. Which inkjet printer to choose is really matter of personal preference and budget; but there are some great, affordable models on the market.