Technology / Business technology

Choosing the right printer

Even in a "paperless" office, a printer is a must. If you’re in the market for a new one, here are some important factors to consider when choosing a printer.


Do you need to print in colour, or just black and white?

Black and white laser printers are very economical, but their colour counterparts usually aren’t. If you’re looking at small volume colour printing, an inkjet printer might be your best bet.

How many pages will you print in a month?

Most printers are optimised to work for a certain number of pages per month, and are manufactured to comfortably meet that target. If you’re consistently using your printer for more than its recommended monthly optimum, it won’t tell you “No more” at the end of each month, but it will deteriorate faster, and under certain conditions, your warranty may not cover this.

Will your documents come into contact with moisture?

Inkjet printing runs if it comes into contact with moisture, so if you’re sending invoices along with products that might produce or come into contact with condensation, you’re going to want them to be printed on a laser printer.

"Make sure you look at the cost of the replacement cartridges as well as the original purchase price of the printer."

What types of paper will you need to print on?

Photo paper won’t go through a laser printer. (Well, it will, but the results are messy). Also keep in mind that some other papers don’t cope well with the high temperatures of laser printers.

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Do you need to scan, fax or copy?

If so, a multifunction device may serve you well. They are available in both laser and inkjet versions, with and without the fax capability.

Think about the ink

Make sure you look at the cost of the replacement cartridges as well as the original purchase price of the printer. Don’t be surprised if the cost of a full set of replacements is more than the printer itself, as new printers are almost always shipped with special cartridges that are only half-full.

If you’re purchasing a colour inkjet printer, avoid those with combination colour cartridges, as you need to replace the whole thing when you run out of one colour. You’ll get better value from replacing individual colour tanks when they run out.

It’s not all about the price

Don’t choose a printer on price alone. Make sure the printer you’re considering is compatible with your computer, and look for a trusted brand. A personal favourite of mine is HP, and while they’re a little more expensive, the only reason to get rid of them is that cartridges are no longer being manufactured for the 12-year old device.

Have you got everything you need?

Check what’s included in the box before you leave the store – many printers aren’t shipped with the cables you need to hook them to your computer, and it’s frustrating to drive all the way back to buy a USB cable. Even wireless printers may require a cable to allow you to set them up.

If you have any other tips for choosing a printer, please share them below.

Heather Cox

has worked with asp for over 5 years wtih roles in technical support and marketing. She enjoys problem solving and helping people achieve mobility and productivity through technology, and is an Associate of the Australian Computer Society.


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