Choosing The Right Printer Jacksonville FL
Choosing The Right Printer
Choosing the right printer for your office may seem like a no-brainer, but many small business owners underestimate how important having a good printer really is.
Imagine trying to print 10 copies of a 100 page business plan (complete with earnings projections graphs) with a dot matrix printer - ready to wait 600 minutes? Obviously, you have better things to do (we hope).
The good news is that with so many types and models of printers on the market today, there is bound to be a product that will meet your needs and your budget. But before you hit the aisles of your local computer store or e-commerce site, keep reading to learn what's out there, and what you need to know to choose the right one.
Most Common Printer Types
Much like a typewriter, dot matrix machines use a print head to literally hammer a nylon ink ribbon against the paper. The dot matrix design is sturdy and well-tested (these printers are often used in printing calculators and cash registers) and the ink ribbons are fairly inexpensive. High-end dot matrix printers offer Near Letter Quality (NLQ) printing, in which the same line is printed twice to make the characters appear more fully-formed. This further slows print speed and increases noise levels to the point where many users are forced to purchase acoustical shielding for their dot-matrix. While these printers can only print in one color at a time, dot-matrix technology is ideal for carbon or multi-part forms.
These printers are very popular with home users for their low price, small size and quiet operation. Ink jet printers work by
In world of printing jargon, a “bang” is an exclamation mark!
spraying tiny droplets of ink on to the paper from a cartridge which contains three different colored inks, making this type of machine well suited for any project requiring color. On the other hand, the document is still printed one line at a time, so print speed varies from slow to slug-like, depending on the model. Since the ink does not dry immediately, much care has to be taken not to smear newly printed pages.
Since the print head does not physically touch the paper, ink jets do not work well with carbon or multi-part documents. Ink jets are good for personal use, and for getting started if you're a small shop that doesn't depend on fast printouts. But be prepared to wait anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute per page.
Although typically the most expensive, laser printers are the way to go for most businesses for speed and quality. Using a technology similar to that of photocopy machines, lasers use a heated drum to bake tiny particles of black or color toner onto a page. Since the entire page is printed at once, print speed is considerably higher, ranging from 4 to 8 pages per minute (PPM).
The most attractive feature of lasers is their extremely sharp print quality, resulting in professional-looking documents and presentations. More advanced laser printers have on-board memory which can store more typefaces (fonts) and graphics. Paired with desktop publishing software, these printers can produce documents such as brochures and marketing collateral at a much lower cost than a print house or other vendor. Laser printers are far more expensive than ink jets, but lower priced models specifically designed for home offices are now coming in to the market.
Much like inkjets, lasers are also not ideal for carbon or multi-part form printing.
Multifunction Devices (MFDs)
Quite popular now because of their convenience, these devices incorporate a printer (usually ink jet or laser) with a
The strength of early lasers was measured by Gillettes - the number of blue razor blades any one beam could puncture.
scanner and fax machine with copying capabilities. MFDs generally cost less than all three of these machines purchased separately, and take up far less desk space, but there are some distinct disadvantages to an all-in-one package. While the MFD may be able to handle a wide range of office tasks, it will not do any one task particularly well, sacrificing quality for efficiency. Most importantly, the ever-popular Law of Christmas Tree Lights applies here - if one feature of the device malfunctions, the whole machine may become useless.
Lightweight and small enough to fit in a briefcase, these printers can produce decent-looking documents just about anywhere. The smallest printers rely on thermal transfer technology, which uses a dye-impregnated ribbon similar to those in dot-matrix printers to transfer images to paper. Ink jet portables are a bit larger, but produce a cleaner document at a much higher speed. Since the ink cartridges / ribbons of portables are smaller than usual, both produce fewer pages and cost more than their office-bound brethren. Most portables on the market are powered by rechargeable nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries, which can generate about 90 pages before needing a recharge.
Answer These Questions
If you're still not sure exactly which type of printer would best suit your needs, ask yourself these simple questions, then take a look at our Product Table below.
1. How much do you have to spend?
Before buying a printer, consider the total cost of ownership (TCO). Besides the cost of the printer, you must budget for consumables like ink and paper, not to mention maintenance. Quality and dependability is another issue: while you can certainly buy a low-end ink jet for about $100, it won't hold up for long under heavy use, and before long you will have to lay out more money for repair or replacement. In this situation, a more expensive printer may be more cost-effective.
If you are an extremely heavy user of ink jet or laser toner cartridges, consider refilling them yourself instead of purchasing a new cartridge every time you run dry. Refill kits for both types of printers are widely available on the Internet.
2. What kind of paper will you use?
Nearly all printers can handle letter and legal-size paper, but if you're planning on printing on heavy stock, envelopes, labels, or transparencies, you should check to make sure the product is up to the task. If you need to switch between different types of paper, purchase a printer with multiple paper trays or feeds.
Paper is coated with starch to control ink penetration. Cheaper papers skimp on starch - why ink ends up on your elbows when you lean over your morning paper.
3. What kind of resolution do you need?
Resolution, which is really just a fancy way to say print quality, is usually expressed as dots per inch (DPI). The higher the DPI, the better the image quality.
Most printers offer DPI of 600 x 600 or higher, but if you need photo-quality output, look for machines with 1200 x 1200 or higher DPI.
4. What kind of computer do you have?
Not all printers are compatible with both Windows and Apple computers. Read the printer's specifications carefully to ensure it will work with your operating system. If you plan to print many different file types, check to make sure the printer supports the Adobe Postscript printer language, which allows documents to retain their original formatting on different operating systems.
Most printers connect to the computer via a parallel port, a wide input socket which is standard on most computers. Still, power users are turning to the Universal Serial Bus (USB) connector, a new connectivity standard which has much higher data transfer rates than parallel ports. Unlike parallel port printers, USB devices can be hooked up and used without having to reboot (restart) the computer. Most computers on the market since late 1997 offer USB ports as well as old-fashioned parallel ports.
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