Six items to consider when purchasing a printer.

Updated: February 24, 2010

1. How will the printer be used? Will I need a color printer?

If you need a printer that produces a mass amount of documents with little to no color quality then a laser printer is the best option. However, if you are in need of a printer that can print quality color documents such as photographs then an inkjet printer is your best bet.

2. How quickly will I need my documents produced?

A laser printer can print up to 12,000 pages per hour. The quality is sometimes sacrificed, but for simple letters, this is the best way to go. Inkjet printers take an "incoming stream of data and directly imprint it in a slow lurching process that may include pauses as the printer waits for more data," according to Wikipedia, creating a leisurely printing process.

3. Will I be printing conventional sized documents or elaborate pieces of varying size?

The requirement to store data in the memory before printing has traditionally limited laser printers to small fixed paper sizes such as letter or A4. Most laser printers are unable to print continuous banners spanning a sheet of paper six-and-a-half feet long, because there is not enough memory available in the printer to store such a large image before printing begins. The data received by an inkjet printer allows the device to elongate the time it is working on a project creating opportunities for various print sizes.

4. Will I be using a lot of printer toner?

Overall, if a printer is cheaper in price, double check the price of toner. Some printer cartridges are excessive compared to the price of the entire device. Toners for inkjet printers typically carry less ink than those of laser printers, so if cost cutting initiatives are a primary concern with a printer purchase then the size of toner cartridge should be considered.

5. How much do I want to designate toward technological maintenance?

Maintenance for inkjet printers simply involves proper cleaning to prevent the ink from drying. Laser printers are more technologically enhanced due to the speed in which they work; therefore have more parts that may need replaced. A laser printer will typically need its roller, drum, and fuser replaced. Printers with soft plastic drums can be expensive to replace, so if a laser printer is the best option for your company, consider purchasing a printer without a soft plastic drum.

6. Will I be printing front and back documents?

The majority of printers do print double-sided; however it is a specification that needs to be made on certain makes and models. Duplexing Printer, the technical term, saves on cost of paper by cutting paper usage in half and reduces filing volumes. Duplexing may slow down the printing speed because the path of the paper is extended.

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