Printers buyer's guide
The paperless office never quite became a reality, with sharing photos and documents in paper form still being essential, and as a result there’s a huge range of printers available. Inkjet printers enable you to produce high-quality colour photos and office documents; laser printers are great for high-volume printing of documents; while All-In-One printers will produce quality documents, but also scan, copy and some offer fax abilities. With so many printers to choose from it’s hard to know where to start. So here’s our quick guide to thinning the pack.
Choose a size
Do you want to print A4, A3 or smaller? For general documents and photos, A4 printers tend to be the most popular due to their versatility, but A3 is a better option for printing posters. If however you only want to print photos, then a specialised portable 6x4-sized printer is ideal.
Choose a type
Will you be printing hundreds of prints a month or just a few? Laser printers are a far better choice for high-volumes of prints, especially normal office documents.
Wired or wireless?
Printers are still largely connected to your computer via a USB cable, usually bought separately, but many printers now support wireless networking. So if you have an existing wireless network your printer can be set up anywhere in your home and used by connected computers.
Some models provide a combination of memory card readers and LCD displays. These enable you to print photos directly from your camera or memory card without the need for a computer at all.
Standard inkjet printers will usually offer a combined black and colour ink cartridge. More advanced models will provide four or more separate cartridges, with advanced photo printers having five or more, which enable you to replace only the colour you use the most. Plus, if you plan to print a lot of office documents then options for large-capacity black cartridges are useful.
To get the best from your inkjet printer it’s important to get the correct paper. If you want lab-quality photos make sure you buy either coated inkjet or glossy photo paper – standard laser or copier paper tends to be too thin and won’t produce a good photo-quality finish.