The market is rich with an array of printers to fulfill the needs of every computer user, from the neophyte to the techno-wizard. You can narrow the field pretty quickly by deciding which level of print quality suits your demands and then following your personal taste and desires from there.
What other capabilities should I shop for in a printer?
Beyond print quality, you'll look at speed, connectivity to your computer, and additional functions, such as the ability of your printer to scan, copy, and fax.
Where should I start?
Begin by understanding the two main types of printers: laser and inkjet. The foremost differences between the two involve speed and color. Laser provides fast, sharp, black-only results, perfect for professional word-processing documents, such as resumes. Inkjet is generally slower-with lower print quality-but can be less expensive, and inkjet gives you color for graphics and photos.
When you seek more from a printer, you can consider additional capabilities, such as scanning, copying, and faxing. These all-in-one printers can be an affordable and agile solution for the family computer or home office, saving you the cost of buying each component individually and conserving space in the work area.
And for the graphic artist or photographer, check out photo-quality printers for impressive color results with high-resolution graphics from digital camera files.
In making your decision, you'll want to consider these topics:
- Print quality: laser, inkjet, or photo-quality
- Print speed
- Print resolution
- Multifunction capabilities
- Connectivity to your computer via cables and ports
- Consumables, including ink, toner, and paper
- Other print media capabilities, such as handling envelopes, card stock, transparencies, and photo paper
- Auto controls, onboard and printer drivers