What to look for when printer shopping 1: There are several types of printing technologies to choose from, each suited for different needs. Printers come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny travel companions to work group workhorses; some are geared toward photographers, others are for multitaskers. And the many specifications for resolution and speed can be misleading.
What to look for when printer shopping 1: There are several types of printing technologies to choose from, each suited for different needs.
Printers come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny travel companions to work group workhorses; some are geared toward photographers, others are for multitaskers.
And the many specifications for resolution and speed can be misleading. As a loose rule of thumb, inkjet printers like the HP Photosmart and the Canon Pixma MG are a must for vibrant colors and long-lasting photos, whereas Canon's ImageClass MF and similar laser printers are best at producing speedy text documents.
To get started, you'll need to decide which of the following profiles best fits your user type. For a more comprehensive index, be sure to check out our list of Best 5 printers.
Which profile best fits you? Home user The home user demands a lot from a printer. The device must tackle everything from a book report to a newsletter to the occasional snapshot -- all without breaking the budget.
Also consider purchasing a second printer -- either a single-function photo inkjet or a snapshot printer for light-duty digital photography.
Student Writing your thesis on the evolution of the market economy in the southern colonies? You'll need a printer that can crank out page after page of text double-time, and a monochrome personal laser printer should fit the bill. It delivers copious crisp, legible text faster than you can say, "Wikipedia is not a valid source.
A multifunction inkjet is a viable option for power users who will make use of the additional copy, fax, and scan options, plus it gives you the flexibility to print in color when necessary -- photo postcards for the family, perhaps?
Digital photographer Any inkjet can print photos in color, but if you want results that approach professional photofinishing, you'll need a printer designed to reproduce the dynamic range of a traditional photograph.
If you consider the printer a critical aspect of your digital darkroom, you need to look at the gamut and characteristics of the ink set, the supported papers, the color-management tools, and the paper path options.
If you plan to purchase only one printer or are a serious hobbyist, a letter-size inkjet is your best bet, since it can also handle routine printing tasks. Some use thermal dye-transfer technology also known as dye sublimation in which heat changes the physical state of solid inks until they infuse specially coated paper, solidifying as they cool.
If you're into digital photography but also run a busy home office, consider a multifunction printer. Manufacturers of these all-in-ones have been working on improving photo output and scanning technology, and many offer multiple ink cartridges that save you money in the long term by allowing you to replace each color as it depletes, as opposed to purchasing a brand-new three-color cartridge every time one color runs out.
Additionally, most all-in-ones boast memory card slots and LCDs on which to preview prints and do light editing, in addition to connectivity options like Ethernet and wireless, with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print features in the upper tiers.
Small business Small businesses can benefit from a jack-of-all-trades model like a multifunction or all-in-one printer. These space-saving devices come in both laser and inkjet models that also include a fax machine, copier, and scanner along with printing to round out the versatility.
Corporate cog Work group lasers are the obvious choice for your small business or team within a larger organization.Browse multipurpose paper, inkjet paper, laser jet paper and specialty paper in a variety of sizes, and even colors. Buy bulk paper to save big on this everyday office supply.
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They're great for printing on a wide range of paper types and sizes, such as scrapbooking paper, business envelopes, labels and more. However, high-quality printing may mean variable print speeds, so this option is best for light printing needs, such as for use in a home or small business.
When printing on card stock, white is a good choice for ensuring that the ink colors you select will be vivid and not altered by the paper color.
Most home printers can't print in white ink, so you will need to select a different color for printing on black card stock.