When most people think of buying a printer, they imagine heading to their local hardware store and picking up a random product on a shelf. In reality, buying printers is not a mindless process.
In fact, it can be challenging for choosing a printer for your business. Selecting the wrong small business printer can force you to waste your hard-earned money or time.
In this printer buying guide, we’ll help you make the right decision. Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know to buy a printer that will meet your needs.
Keep Your Budget
The cost for printers can vary, depending on their manufacturer and capabilities. Obviously, you shouldn’t spend more than what you can afford on a small business printer.
This includes printers with all the bells and whistles that fall out of your budget. Though, budgeting for a printer goes further than buying it. You’ll have to account for its ongoing costs and maintenance.
Usually, the cheapest printers have the most expensive ink cartridges. Before you enter your local hardware store, you should do some research for brands that fit your budget.
You should also make sure that the cost for replacement ink cartridges is similar to other brands. Another thing to note here is that you should never insert incompatible ink cartridges into your printer.
This could void your warranty and leave you with a broker printer that’s expensive to replace.
Keep an Eye on the Ink
Before deciding on a printer to buy, it’s important to know how ink cartridges work. After all, you’ll be buying ink as long as you own your printer.
There are three main types of ink cartridges:
- Two ink cartridges: This simply includes an all-in-one color cartridge and a black cartridge.
- Four ink cartridges: This is a black cartridge and three more for the colors cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMYK).
- Inkwells: Ink is drawn from large wells that can be refilled instead of cartridges.
Each of these types will impact how often you buy ink and how much it’ll cost. Though, if you want to save more money, you’re better off using inkwells.
Printers with inkwells can print as much as 14,000 black pages and 11,000 color pages before a refill. You can also choose to buy a laser printer.
Laser printers use toner instead of ink and are better for creating crisper images than inkjet printers, according to Premiumtoners.com.
Keep the Print Quality in Mind
While laser printers produce higher quality images than inkjet printers, they are often expensive to buy and maintain. If you plan on using a printer in your home office, an inkjet printer will work just fine.
Though, you have to keep in mind that print quality tends to vary depending on the inkjet printer you buy. In fact, the three factors that can affect print quality is:
- The printhead design
- A printer’s driver
- The ink’s quality
Still, the main thing to look out for is a printer’s dots per inch (DPI). This basically explains how a printer copies the pixels of its source image.
Inkjet printers have varying DPIs. Some have a 600 x 600 DPI, while others have a 4,800 x 4,800 DPI.
Pay Attention to Print Speed
Everyone has once stood in front of a printer, waiting far too long for it to print a sheet of paper. This can be frustrating if you have a lot of printing demands and tons of deadlines to meet.
If you use your printer at the office, you should always pay attention to print speed before buying a product. Printer speed is measured at a rate known as pages per minute (PPM).
Usually, printers have different PPM rates for text and image pages. Though, some printers only display one PPM rate on their box. If you notice this, the single rate refers to black text. Inkjet printers have varying PPM rates, from 5-25.
Check It’s Wireless Connectivity
Wireless connectivity is a major feature for any type of printer. To decide if this matters to you, it’s important to answer these two questions:
- Where will you use your printer?
- Which devices will you print from?
All available printers on the market allow users to print the old-fashioned way from a USB cord. Some printers may allow you to print via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Newer printer models have made it possible for users to use Apple AirPrint and Google Could Print. Bluetooth connectivity allows users to print from their smartphones.
On the other hand, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint, and Google Could Print allow people to print documents while they’re away from home.
Factor in the Additional Features
Most printers do much more than print. There are plenty of all-in-one printers that can send faxes, scan, and copy documents. These printers may cost more than standard products, but most people find them worth the price.
You should also watch out for features that are unique to a specific manufacturer, like computer apps and special printing modes. This means that some printer manufacturers are definitely better than others.
Check the Paper Format
Not all printers use the same kind of paper. Some all-in-one printers even use small scanning beds that can’t fit the legal-sized paper. With that said, you should nail down the type of paper you want to use before buying a printer.
If you use standard sheets of paper, buying an ordinary inkjet printer will suffice. However, if you want to print larger sheets of paper, you can settle on an all-in-one printer.
Select the Right Printer Size
There are three major types of printer sizes. These are desktop, portable, and compact. A desktop printer is a standard option that can fit in any office.
A compact printer is smaller than a desktop printer and can be used in home offices. Portable printers can be taken everywhere and are usually less dense than compact printers.
The type of printer you choose should be based on the amount of space you have.
Check Online Reviews
Before buying a printer, it’s absolutely important to check online reviews. Doing so is a great way to see how customers have enjoyed a particular product.
It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a printer online or in-store. Once you check the reviews of a printer, you’ll learn more about its features. You’ll also get more information about the printer’s pros and cons.
With online reviews, you don’t have to rush into making a decision right away.
Never Buy a Printer Just Because There’s a Sale
Another thing to watch out for when buying a printer is marketing gimmicks. Many stores will advertise their least popular printers on a sale to get them sold.
Because of this, you should do your research to find the best printers a brand has to offer. Buying a printer based on a sale will more than likely leave you with a product you don’t want.
Know That You Get What You Pay For
Granted, the average person wants to save money when buying anything, from printers to clothes. However, you should be mindful that you get what you pay for when shopping for a printer.
Much like any other product, the cheapest printers are usually the worst. Pricey printers usually have better features and capabilities. Though, this doesn’t mean that you should buy the most expensive printer on the market.
Finding a price you’re comfortable with is the best way to get a printer that gives you the highest return on your investment.
Don’t Forget About Maintenance
In most cases, businesses purchase advanced printers that can carry out a variety of different tasks. The problem is that these businesses forget what it takes to run these printers every day.
Not too many people are well versed in how to scan and copy documents. A lot of people also don’t know how to print on both sides of the paper.
With that said, it’s important for you to choose a printer that’s easy to use and maintain. If you don’t have a dedicated IT team to maintain your printer, you should stay away from products with countless features.
Be Careful Where You Buy a Printer
The place where you buy a printer will certainly matter in the long run. Some people avoid big-name stores to save money. Ultimately, they end up wasting their money on inferior products.
Make sure you check the online reviews and reputation of the place where you’re buying a printer. This can save you a headache in the future.
Ask for a Recommendation
Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising. It’s no secret that people trust the opinions of their friends and relatives. Because of this, feel free to ask someone you trust for a recommendation.
If you run a business, ask a colleague for a recommendation before buying a printer.
Learn More with This Printer Buying Guide
As you can see, there are so many tips to follow when buying a printer for your home or business. Following this printer buying guide will help you make the right decision when the time comes.
Do you want to learn more about printers? If so, check out more of our helpful articles.