Printer Buying Guide

The printer thatís right for you obviously depends on your budget and printing needs. This guide offers an overview of the different types of printers available and how suitable they are for different uses.

The personal laser printer has been around for almost thirty years although is still widely used, often in monochrome although colour laser printers are readily available. They work like photocopiers, with a photographic drum that attracts charged toner and transfers it onto the paper. Due to their fast print speeds, sharp output and relatively cheap toner, laser printers are ideal for home usage and even some office use. Prices range from around £50 for standard models to up to £300 for top of the range, colour laser printers. In terms of specification, laser printers tend to offer at least 600x600 resolution and have a print speed of around 12 to 20 pages per minute, with a memory of somewhere around 32MB and above.

The personal laserís big brother is the workgroup laser and is designed for small teams or office use within companies. They are essentially just scaled up versions of the personal laser although also offer advanced handling capabilities such as a larger input tray and double sided printing. The processors are often faster and print speeds are generally above 20 pages per minute. Resolution is similar although expect a memory of around 64MB. Prices start at around £200.

An alternative to the laser printer in the Inkjet. By applying a fine line of ink droplets from different cartridges, prints are formed. This does make it a slower process than the laser printer, with print speeds around 5 to 15 pages per minute although a much higher quality can be achieved. Resolution varies drastically from model to model but the inkjet can be suitable for everything from home use to high quality photo and brochure production, with prices ranging from as little as £60 to £500 and more. If you want to print high quality photos you may wish to opt for the photo/snapshot printers that, for a similar price, offer near professional quality.

Today, many printers are multifunctional or all in one, combing the facilities of printer, copier, scanner and even fax into one machine. Theyíre available in either laser or inkjet format and are often ideal for home or small office use. Prices start at around £75 although expect to pay significantly more for a top of the range device.

Finally, for those on the go, portable printers are an option. Weighing as little as a kilogram, theyíre perfect for printing on the train or in hotel suites although donít expect premium quality. They come with quite a price tag too, with basics starting at around £200.

When purchasing your printer, bear in mind several things. Almost every printer will come equipped with USB 2.0 ports to connect the device to your PC although Bluetooth and infrared compatible printers are widely used. Always check the type of toner/ink your printer uses as well. Thereís no use investing in a state of the art machine to find you canít afford to print with it!

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