Whether you’ve got kids who bring essays and project assignments home from school or you’ve got your own printing needs as a working professional, getting a printer has become a necessity these days.
Technology behind printers has progressed so dramatically in recent years, that it can be a daunting task to select the best printer for your needs. Printers can do so much more that you’ll be surprised by the innovative and time- saving features on modern printers these days.
However, the selection of a printer can be difficult given the sheer number of options on the market, not to mention the complicated terms manufacturers use that only seem to make the process difficult.
Keeping this in mind, we have prepared an excellent purchasing guide that will help you explore the various different types of printers, their features, and the very latest in print technology.
Choosing the Right Printer
Before we get into the various different types of printers, we need to know more about you. We have segregated the information according to the type of user you are, whether you’re a home user, a student, a home office or small business owner, or a digital photographer.
How to Choose the Right Printer for YOU!
For Home Users
Home users have quite a lot of demands from a printer, whether it be an essay, a project assignment, cookbook recopies, printing school notes, an occasional photograph, and sometimes even scanning documents.
In this scenario, it’s always best to get an all-rounder or an all-in-one machine, which is multifaceted and affordable. A 3-in-1 inkjet printer can go a long way in helping you with that.
Another alternative is to get a monochromatic laser printer for heavy-duty black and white printing and a separate colour inkjet printer for printing photos, etc. This can reduce your printing costs way down in case you do more of black and white or monochromatic printing.
Whether you’re printing your thesis or your term papers, an inkjet printer can be an affordable way of getting detailed images and crispy clear text pages.
A 3-in-1 inkjet printer can also allow you to scan and copy, and a Wi-Fi-enabled printer can conveniently allow you to take printouts from your smartphone. Spending a little extra moolah should allow you to get a model which gets the job done a little faster than its standard counterparts.
Also, it’s a known fact that toner cartridges in a laser printer can print you more pages compared to standard inkjet ink cartridges, so if you often take a lot of printouts, then it’s best to get a monochromatic laser printer.
They are much faster than standard inkjet printers and the overall cost of printing is much lighter on your wallet, saving you that precious monthly allowance.
For Home Office or Small Business Owner
A home office or a small business can benefit a lot from an all-in-one printer that comes with a laser or an inkjet printer, a scanner, a copier, and even includes a fax machine (if you so desire to get that particular feature).
A home office laser printer is capable of handling high volumes of heavy-duty work at a much lower cost per page than an inkjet printer.
Apart from the standard task of printing, a home office printer can have numerous other features such as wireless capability, automatic duplex printing, as well as an extra tray that acts as an automatic document feeder.
This category of printers starts to get costlier as you go on adding the above features.
Even though these features may raise the overall cost of the printer, they are certainly worth it as getting an automatic document feeder can make your scanning job so much easier or a printer with automatic duplex printing can save you a lot of paper by enabling you to print on both sides of the same paper.
You can go the same route as a home user where you can get an all-in-one monochromatic laser printer for your heavy-duty needs and get a separate inkjet colour printer for your occasional colour printouts.
In this case, if you so desire that extra crispiness, then you can definitely go for a laser colour printer too.
For Digital Photographer
For a digital photographer, there is nothing better than an inkjet printer as these printers can print very clear and vibrant images on various different types of paper such as glossy paper, semi-gloss paper, matte paper, artist-grade paper, etc.
Inkjet printers can be the best for photographers as it allows them to choose their own ink, as in whether they’re comfortable with the standard dye-based ink or they would prefer to upgrade to the latest invention, which is the pigment-based ink.
Now, we are not going to dwell upon which is the best, but rest assured a good quality inkjet printer can handle both, to give you that immaculate-looking, magazine-quality print.
If you consider your photography hobby as serious, then you can even look into inkjet printers that use dye sublimation technology or thermal-dye transfer technology.
This technology uses heat that changes the physical state of solid, dry inks until they are infused with specially-coated paper and this ink then solidifies as it cools, creating a more vibrant picture.
Are you a photographer as well as a home office owner?
Then you might want to consider getting a printer which has multiple functions, such as an all-in-one printer. Many manufacturers have vastly improved the picture output quality of their multifunction printers and also allow you to choose the perfect ink cartridge of your choice.
Many of them also provide you the option of only replacing one colour if one of the cartridges runs out, rather than forcing you to buy the three-colour cartridge.
Types of Printers
Now that you’ve decided which specific category of user you belong to, it’s time to look at the different types of printers that are available in the market.
InkJet vs Laser Printers - Which One Should You Get?
Even though laser printing technology has been with us for years, it’s still one of the best when it comes to fast printing, clear output, and a lower cost per page. These printers are said to be workhorses that can print large volumes very quickly and can also keep the overall printing costs down.
These laser printers are like copy machines and employ the use of static electricity and a toner to print the images onto paper. If you only require black and white printing, then as mentioned before, you can select a monochromatic printer, which will enable you to save a lot of money.
These monochromatic printers are best suited for printing simple text files or spreadsheets.
Spending more money allows you to add more functions to your laser printer such as the added functionality of a copier, a scanner, and even a fax machine.
A lot of the manufacturers enable network connectivity to their printers and some of the models are even Wi-Fi enabled, which allows you to connect your printer to your home or office network.
This can enable connectivity across numerous devices such as multiple PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.
These are compact, lightweight inkjet printers that spray tiny, precisely-controlled ink droplets directly onto the paper. They are great for printing on a variety of papers such as regular paper, glossy paper, semi-gloss paper, matte paper, artist-grade paper, even business labels and envelopes, etc.
These inkjet printers should not be confused with snapshot printers or photo printers. Compared to laser printers, inkjet printers are slow but manufacturers of inkjet printers are slowly closing the gap between them.
Do keep in mind that ink cartridges and these special types of papers can be very costly, so choose an inkjet printer if you are a home user or a small business owner that takes printouts intermittently and don’t really require high-volume printing.
Multi-function or All-in-One Printers
Multifunction printers or All-in-One Printers are the considered 'jack of all trades.' Along with a printer, they also come with a scanner, copier, and even a fax machine (if you so desire). This makes them perfect for small business owners or home office users.
MFPs or AIOs, as they are called in short, are available with laser printing or inkjet printing. You can choose one according to your needs. Many of the multifunction printers also come with USB ports or memory card slots, which allow you to plug in your USB pen drive and take instant printouts.
Along with these, some of the AIOs have Wi-Fi connectivity for wirelessly connecting your laptops or smartphones. There is also automatic duplex printing, which allows you to take printouts on both sides of the paper.
There is also an optional feature of automatic document feeder, which is usually in the form of an additional tray that pops in on top of the scanner, enabling you to automatically feed in stacks of papers, saving you a lot of time if you intend to scan or copy them all.
Top Printer Brands in India
Some of the best and the most popular printer brands in India are: HP (Hewlett-Packard), Canon, Brother, Epson, Samsung, Ricoh and Xerox.
We covered everything you should be looking for in the perfect home printer and in the end it’s all about finding the most economical solution for long term use as all of the top brands offer similar quality and the most efficient and economical printers are usually the best picks.