How to Choose a Printer

Inkjet, laser printer, or multi-function?  Do you need color or only  black and white? Is the print speed critical?  Sometimes choosing the right printer for you can be confusing.

How will you use the printer?

  • I occasionally print documents, webpages and spreadsheets
  • I print presentations and high resolution photos.
  • I print over 100 pages a day
  • I need a printer that also functions as a scanner, and fax machine.

What is your operating system?

What is the maximum amount you want to spend?

Do you want to connect wirelessly?


Consider the Following Factors And Your Needs.

  • Resolution – the number of dots a printer prints in a square inch (over 1440 dpi is good). Choose a higher end model with a higher resolution if you will be printing lots of presentation-quality text, graphics and photos.
  • Operating Cost – Calculate the cost of replacement ink cartridges and paper, because printer users must continually purchase more ink cartridges and toner when the old ones run out or dry up. Be aware that the cost of paper, toner and ink can amount to more than the original cost of the printer within a year or so.
  • Speed – the volume of printout (pages per minute) is essential if you are printing large numbers of documents in black and white
  • Size of the printout – will you be printing on oversized or non-standard paper, heavy cardstock, blueprints, transparencies, etc? Then choose a printer whose paper path is no sharper than 90 degrees to allow printing on various types of media without jamming.
  • Post-Script Fonts – most inkjet printers are not PostScript-compatible. If you need to print PostScript graphics or fonts, consider a laser printer.
  • Photo Quality – Specialty color printers that have photo lab quality are essential if you are looking for a printer that can print high-resolution images on photo paper.
  • Digital camera cards and Memory Sticks – does the printer need to have built-in slots for these de vices?
  • Network enabled – will you be connecting the new printer to a home or office network?
  • Image processing – Processing images takes a lot of power, so printers often have as much computing horsepower and memory as a PC. Some printers form the complete image in memory prior to printing it, which allows them to handle large files quickly.
  • Ease of use – how easy is the printer setup process?
  • Compatibility – The newer printers are all USB-compatible, which means they will work for Windows 98/2000/XP, and with Mac System 8.1 or higher.
  • Warranty – be sure to purchase a printer that includes a manufacturer’s and/or store warranty (at least 90 days).