How to Choose a Printer
Which printer will be the best for you, providing clear, high quality documents or images while, at the same time, working most efficiently with the lowest cost of ownership? With a little information, you will be able to choose the printer that will perfectly meet your needs. Printers are offered with various configurations and priorities. Focus on printers which provide consistently great output, handle paper reliably, and will provide many years of operation.
Printers have either MFC (Multi-Function Center) or task dedicated configurations. MFCs offer the advantage of providing scanning, printing, copying, and faxing in one compact device. However, companies are generally conservative when making compact MFCs and thus don't use their best printers and scanners for these products. Choose an MFC if space is limited. If space is available to have a separate printer, scanner, and fax machine, or if you don't need all of these features, then devices dedicated to a specific task provide the highest quality solution.
Do you know what software drivers are? Maybe not, but they are essential in determining the best printer. The drivers provide information necessary for a computer to interact with the printer. The smaller the size of these drivers, the better. The drivers should be less than or equal to 12MB. If they are larger than 12MB, then the printer is a "software" printer that requires the computer to process information that would normally be processed by the printer. This extra software can cause performance reductions, stability issues, and a requirement for extra configurations. In addition, the operation of the software and printer can be inconsistent, increasing the amount of professional troubleshooting service required. "Hardware" printers don't require extra software, which enables the drivers to be smaller. These smaller drivers are faster to install (reducing installation cost) and require little-to-no ongoing maintenance and do not decrease the performance of the rest of the computer system.
Various technologies exist to "draw" items on a page. The three most common technologies utilize ink, pigment, and toner. Ink printers are becoming obsolete. Basic ink printers are very inexpensive to purchase up front, but require frequent replacement of expensive ink cartridges and have a short printer life span: good for the printer company, costly for you. With improvements in 21st century miniaturization, toner based printers are small enough to fit easily on a desk. The best toner based printers are laser printers, which have cartridges that never dry out and can easily last thousands of pages. One can leave a laser printer unused for months and start printing again without issue. Laser printers print extremely fast and quiet. Pigment based print systems are the most logical choice for artists. These printers combine special pigment cartridges with special paper to produce the most flexible, accurate, and vibrant productions. Pigment printers exist to suit a range of user, from casual to professional.
In summary, toner based laser printers require the least maintenance, last the longest, and provide the lowest TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Pigment printers are best for printing photographs, or other artistic productions.