How to buy a printer

Published: September 26, 2019

Laser or inkjet, single or multi-function? Buying the right printer can be a little daunting, with so many new products on the market! Here’s our top tips to make your next printer purchase easier.

Does it work with my devices?

The latest printers are generally compatible with current operating systems from Windows and Apple iOS. If you want to print directly from your phone or tablet, just be sure it works with Android and mobile iOS first. If you’re having difficulty with installation or getting the features up and running, our support team can help!

What kind of connection works best for me?

Your new printer will have a USB port to connect to your computer using a cable. Some printers also have wireless capabilities or an ethernet port for connecting directly to a network. Wireless printing means your printer can be positioned conveniently out of the way, such as on a shelf, to save desk space. Some wireless printing options include Bluetooth, AirPrint (for Apple iOS devices), Cloudprint (Google) or PictBridge technology.

Do I need laser or inkjet?

These are the two most common printer options for the home and office:

Inkjet printers are usually the most budget friendly option for everyday use. They are adequate for printing documents on an occasional basis. An inkjet will really shine when printing graphics and images, which can often be done at a resolution of 1200 to 2400 DPI (dots per inch) on special glossy photographic paper. Some inkjets have the option of borderless printing, where you can cover all edges of the page with ink (no whitespace). 

Laser printers may not always guarantee the same image quality as inkjets, but they provide the fastest printing speeds, of at least 20-30 PPM (pages per minute, versus around 10 PPM with an inkjet). They are highly reliable for large print runs of text, which only require a resolution of 300-600 DPI. Businesses often use them for printing reports in bulk, and they can be extremely cost effective if you print in monochrome (black only).

Have I researched what kind of ink I need?

While your first set of ink cartridges is usually included, replacements can cost more than the printer itself (especially on inkjet printers), so factor this into your budget. Cheaper printers often use a single colour cartridge that blends all the colours together, forcing you to buy a new one if one colour, such as cyan, runs out. Printers with individual colour cartridges (cyan, yellow, magenta) may be annoying to replace individually but can save money in the long run. Be wary buying cheap, third party cartridges that may damage your printer and void the warranty.

Do I need multi-function?

A multi-function printer may be worth the extra cost. You’ll get flexibility to print in colour, make copies, scan and even fax (in some cases, but perhaps you’d prefer to email). Yes, scanners and photocopiers can be bought separately, but you can save some desk space with an all-in-one solution! Some multi-function printers have an LCD screen that informs you if there’s a paper jam, how many copies are left in your current print run, or if you’re running low on ink. Many models allow printing from a memory card or USB key in addition to your computer.

What other features will I need?

Many businesses, and the occasional home user, require some advanced printing features. Booklet printing will collate and staple multi-page documents. The double-sided printing function is better for the environment, with the potential to halve your paper costs and usage. A manual feed allows you to print on special paper sizes, such as envelopes. Multi-function laser printers have a larger sheet capacity (think 200 sheets per tray, versus 50 sheets) and the various trays can be useful for separating letterhead stationery from coloured paper or different sizes, such as A3.

What about other types of printers?

While less common for the average home office or student, there are some printer options other than your standard or multi-purpose inkjet or laser printer:

Mobile or portable printers are a compact, lightweight solution for someone on-the-go. They’re sleek and portable but you won’t usually get the fastest speeds or highest image quality.

Wide format printers can perform large scale print runs and accommodate larger paper types, including posters A3 and up.

3D printers fuse together layers of filament (instead of ink) to create physical objects based on a digital design.

Continuous ink printers use external tanks of refillable ink, instead of cartridges. You can print thousands of pages before needing to top up the ink bottles, a cost efficient solution for large businesses.

Need some help setting up a printer, scanner or digital camera? Get in touch with our tech Support specialists – they’re Aussie based, open 362 days a year and just a phone call away!

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