From brilliantly colored family photographs to your next employee newsletter, there’s a printer to suit just about any need. Use this guide to help you explore different types of printers, their available features, and the latest in printing technology.
Types of printers
The inkjet printer produces rich, detailed graphics or crisp text documents on a wide range of paper types and sizes. It works by spraying tiny droplets of ink directly onto paper. However, high-quality printing may mean slower print speeds, so this is more suited for home or small business use than high volume work. All-in-one inkjet printers offer convenient access to printing, scanning, copying and faxing in one space saving unit.
These printers are built to print large volumes quickly and at a low cost per page. Like copy machines, laser printers use static electricity and toner (powder) rather than ink to transfer images and text onto paper. You don’t have to wait for toner to dry so there is no smudging. All-in-one laser printers offer copying, printing, faxing and scanning.
Specialty photo printers are designed to produce high-quality photos such as you would get from a professional printing service, without the hassle of making a trip to the shop. They allow you to print directly from a compatible digital camera and/or accept SD cards or memory sticks. Some models allow you to perform editing such as cropping and red-eye removal.
3D printers print in 3D, stacking layers of melted material such as plastic, resin, or powder to build a 3D printout.
Printer features to consider
By connecting over a wireless network, your printer is available to other computers and devices with the appropriate driver. This type of connection is useful for a home or business with more than one computer.
Most inkjet and laser printers have input and output trays that can hold sheets of paper. Printers with multiple paper trays will help reduce how often you’ll have to refill the trays.
Printers either draw the paper from the front of the printer using rubber rollers to guide the paper out of the tray and through the printer, or use gravity to move the paper down from a top loader through the feeder and out the front of the printer. The latter is useful for printing on paper that can’t be bent.
Duplex printing saves both time and paper as it allows printing on both sides of a page. Printers that provide duplex printing will often use a reversing automatic document feeder, which allows for duplex scanning and then prints double-sided pages without you having to turn the paper over and feed it back into the machine.
When shopping for a printer, you may see some terms that indicate output speed. PPM (pages per minute), sometimes referred to as CPM (copies per minute), determines how many pages per minute your printer can push out. The higher the number of pages, the faster the printer can print or copy your document. If you’re shopping for a photo printer, you’ll see the term IPM (images per minute), which goes by the same principle.
Touch-screen LCDs make it easy to navigate your printer and quickly input data such as the number of pages you want to print, the e-mail address you want to send a scan to, or the paper tray you want to use.
PictBridge allows you to print photos directly from a digital camera by plugging it into your printer using a USB cable and selecting the photos you’d like to print.
Built-in memory card reader
A built-in memory card allows you to easily access and, with some printers, edit your photos without using a computer.
You should consider the replacement costs of ink cartridges when choosing a printer. Colour printers use four ink colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). The printer may use a tricolor ink cartridge (CMY) and a separate black ink cartridge for monochrome printing, or has individual cartridges for each colour. A tricolor cartridges has to be replaced when one colour runs out whereas individual cartridges can be replaced on their own.
Connecting to the printer
In addition to connecting to your printer via a cable, most new printers offer wireless options. There are also cloud-based printing services that give you the freedom to print from just about anywhere.
Computer Mania stocks a wide selection of printers. Our in store technical specialists can answer all your questions and assist you to find the best solution for your requirements.