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How to buy the best printer

Essays, assignments, projects. Print everything!

Printers have become extensively common because of their increased functionalities and affordability over the years. The use of printers, once limited to office spaces, has now transcended to home environments for quick printing of projects, assignments and essays. The intense competition between brands like HP, Epson, Canon and Brother have caused printer costs to dwindle down significantly, where you can buy a capable printer for less than $60 (approximately Rs. 4,000). The number of options in the market can make for a confusing and difficult selection experience. An array of features, options and types of printers have infiltrated the market and it can be difficult to pick the one best suited to your needs. Choosing the wrong printer can lead to unnecessary expenditures and hampered productivity in your tedious work or the frantic home environment. Here are the features and functionalities you must consider (or not) before buying a printer.

There are a number of features and functionalities you must consider before buying a printer

What to consider

  • Type of printer – The most important and common question asked while buying printers is whether you need an inkjet or a laser printer. Colour inkjet printers print just about anything and are extensively used since their costs and printing speeds have significantly come closer to matching the monochrome laser printers. However, if you anticipate only utilising your printer to print monochrome, text documents, investing in a laser printer would be a better option. Colour laser printers are also common, but it isn’t one that is recommended since the cost per page of a colour printout on a laser printer is much higher than on an inkjet printer. You may also need to consider if you need a multifunction unit that lets you accomplish multiple tasks like scanning, faxing and photocopying. You can also choose a photo printer if your main purpose of owning a printer is dedicated to photo or graphics use. Automatic duplexing (not having to physically turn over a paper to print the other side) is a feature that some printers have. You need to consider if this feature is necessary and helpful to your printing needs.
  • Running costs – The running costs of printers can often outrun the initial cost of buying the machine. It is wise to research the cost of replacement supplies to know the cost that lies ahead of you when the initial supplies run dry. Often it is more sensible to buy an expensive machine that has cheaper costs for cartridges, paper and maintenance. HP offers an Instant Ink plan that sends you ink immediately when your supplies are running low, with a promise for a fixed amount of pages for a monthly fee. Canon and Epson give their users ‘ink tank’ models that provide economical costs per page. Brother offers printers that have multiple cartridges installed in them which will ensure that you do not need to refill for a long time.
The running costs of printers can often outrun the initial cost of buying the machine
  • Printing speed – Consider the volume of documents your company or household typically prints and collaborate that information with your decision while buying a printer. If your company often prints the bulk amount of black and white documents throughout the day, you might want to consider getting a laser printer which has significantly faster printing speeds than inkjet printers (although inkjets are quickly catching up).
  • Paper handling – Ideally your printer must be equipped to hold more paper than the number of pages you print per day. A lot more. This is an important point to be considered as it can help minimise paper loading and wastage of time. A personal printer holds around 100-150 pages and, in most cases, has a single tray. Some models sport a dedicated photo tray that aids in cutting down paper swapping. Business printers can usually hold a minimum of 250 sheets of papers, however, they are upgradable or readily available in different variants of 500-1,000 sheets of paper. If you are buying a printer for a busy-office setup, consider buying a printer that supports multiple paper trays.
You must consider buying a printer that comes with at least a year’s worth of manufacturer or store warranty
  • Warranty – You must consider buying a printer that comes with at least a year’s worth of manufacturer or store warranty. Machines are machines after all, and some of them have the tendency of breaking down from time to time, despite the price you have paid for them (costlier machines are not exempt from the occasional crash). A malfunctioning device can hamper the productivity and taint customer service in busy work environments. Consider buying a printer with warranty, some devices even provide warranty up to two years.

What not to consider

  • Budget – It is wise not to consider budget as a big factor, especially if it leads to you buying the wrong kind of printer based on your usage estimate. It will be inappropriate for a big office environment that needs to print all kinds of material to have a monochrome laser printer. Cutting costs while buying your printer can often lead to massive running costs if the replacement supplies of the device have high costs, run out quickly or are not easily available.
  • Connection – Most new age printers have the standard USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection setup, or even all of them. Gone are the days of clunky printers that had only a USB port connection. NFC is also available on some high-end printers, however, you should do just fine with the above three, rendering it useless to spend a few thousand bucks just to obtain a printer with NFC connectivity which you will probably not use.
NFC is also available on some high-end printers, however, you should
do just fine with USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi
  • Displays – Displays on printers have a few variants now, with a typical display with two lines of character-based messages and high-end displays with a photo-orientation that might have a full-colour LCD display, possibility with touch capability. However, do not let these fancy add-ons deter you from buying the printer that suits your needs perfectly. A normal black and white display can often do the same things that a fancy display can accomplish, don’t let it fool you into thinking the device has better functionality for your daily printing requirements. A dual-coloured LED will do just fine to indicate the printer status.
  • Media card slots and USB/PictBridge ports – These features are usually used when the user’s requirements include printing a lot of photographs. An inkjet printer with integrated media slots and PictBridge ports can be considered an added convenience but most PCs already have these ports and you would just be paying extra money to duplicate them. A USB port which is sometimes combined with a PictBridge Port allows a user to print documents right from a key drive but they can also add a security risk.

The best place to get it

  • Pan-India – Amazon / Flipkart

Need a quick list of some of the capable printers of 2018? Check this table

Dhriti Datta

Dhriti Datta

Reader, thinker, writer. Dhriti spends most of her time engrossed in technology reviews and gaming walkthroughs. When not at her post-graduation college studying journalism, she can be found eating, singing out loud and whining incessantly about the smallest things.