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Printer Buying Guide

Our printer buying manual contains all the information you will ever need, whether you are looking to buy your first printer for your home or office, or maybe considering replacing an older printer.

Recent great changes and advances in printing technology mean there are now, more than ever, pioneering and improved features on modern printers on the market.

PremiumCompatibles have designed this manual, to provide an informative guide to help you identify the most significant points to consider when buying a printer and to assist you to choose the most suitable printer for your needs.

Our Guide to Inkjet Printers:

Inkjet printers are an ideal choice, for the home user; perfect for printing work, tickets, photos, documents, letters and projects.

Inkjet printers are likely to produce greater quality photographs than laser printers. If you are a fan of photography, or perhaps like making photo albums, a great quality inkjet printer will produce the best of photos from DSLR and phone cameras.

Our Guide to Laser Printers:

Laser printers are designed for constant use, and can cut printing times in offices and homes, when sizeable quantities are printed. Very suitable for text documents, and high-speed batch printing.

Toners will cost more than inkjet cartridges, but you obtain more prints before they need replacing (usually over 1400 pages but this can vary from machine to machine). The initial cost price of a laser printer can seem higher, but over time, the cost-per-page will be more cost effective, than inkjet printing.

Our Guide to All in One Printers:

An all-in-one printer is the combination of a scanner, copier and printer in one machine. You can buy all in one printers, in both inkjet and laser ranges, giving the benefit from the reduced footprint, and the accessibility of a three in one printer.

Some all-in-ones have an integrated fax machine included, such a useful idea, and the ideal printing solution for small or home offices, although of course faxing is very much becoming a thing of the past!

Our Guide to 3d Printers:

3D printers have recently become much more accessible and offer a dynamic and innovative entry into prototyping and small-scale manufacturing. Whatever you design, you can create. This is great if you want to test-fit parts, or perhaps you would like to design a personalised or customised phone case, or anything else, the options are endless. A 3D printer makes once complex manufacturing straightforward.

So How Do I Choose a Printer?

Various kinds of printers are accessible for different requirements and uses. Whether you're a student, business user, or a family, there will a printer that is right for your needs.

Which Printer Should I Buy for Printing At Home?

If you occasionally print documents and photos, an inkjet printer is the ideal choice, as the initial cost is lower than a laser or photo printer. While you may not get as many pages before the ink needs replacing, you won’t be paying for ink, performance and features that you don't need.

If you don’t need to print in colour, there are monochrome laser printers, designed just for text documents, which would prove to be of outstanding value.

Which Printer Is Right For Me, to Use in My Business?

There is a large choice of business printers in both inkjet and laser varieties.

When you're choosing printer for your office, ensure the print speed is quick enough. Automatic document feeders (ADF) are an essential timesaving feature, allowing you to scan and copy more than one document at a time.

For regular printing, it’s a wise move to check the monthly duty cycle,  this will give you an idea on the maximum number of monthly prints that the manufacturer suggests the machine is capable of, whilst making sure you are not overusing the machine.

Which Printer Should I Buy to Print Professional Quality Photos?

Photo printers are exclusively designed for printing images, giving higher quality photos than other printers – absolutely great for producing family albums or framing pictures for your home.

These printers use individual inks for each colour, ensuring a natural colour reproduction, this guarantees your images will appear with a clarity as perfect as if they had been printed at a photo lab.  

Wireless Printing

Wireless connectivity is a great advance in technology, enabling you to print from a computer, tablet or smartphone without the need to plug your device in. You can print from any room in your home or office, ensuring everyone is able to use the printer speedily with ease.

Printing From My Android Device

Google Cloud Print allows you to print from any Android or Windows device. You can print from smartphones, tablets and computers without the need to download additional software or drivers. It makes it possible for you to send documents or photos to print from anywhere, so you don’t need to be near your printer to do this.

Printing From My IOS Device

AirPrint is exclusive to Apple devices and enables you to print directly from your iPhone, iPad, Mac or iPod Touch. You just have to tap the button on your device to print wirelessly.

What about the Cost of Cartridges

Considering the cost of ink cartridges is an important factor when choosing a printer. A cheaper printer might need more expensive cartridges and vice-versa.

The more you spend on a printer, the better value the cartridges will be so your most critical consideration is “how much can I spend on a printer” not “how little can I spend on a printer”.

HP Instant Ink?

Printers with an enabled HP Instant Ink subscription automatically orders new ink when the cartridges are running low, these are then sent to you. This facility is available on many HP printers. You just need to enrol on a fixed monthly plan, which determines how many pages you can print per month. Ink is automatically posted to your address whenever it's needed, with the monthly payment inclusive of postage and recycling. Instant Ink can potentially help you save money, but be careful because once you are enrolled in the service you have effectively lost control of when to and when not to order cartridges. You might not want to have a regular monthly direct debit.

Ink Tank Printers?

Ink tank printers contain unique ink tanks that can be refilled and topped-up whenever necessary, using cost-effective bottles of ink. The bottles provide many thousands of prints each and can assist you to reduce printing costs by up to 65% - ideal for offices and homes where lots of printing is done. Although, the initial cost of these printers is higher.

What’s The Difference Between Inkjet Printers and Laser Printers?

Inkjet printers use ink cartridges. These are often cheaper to replace than laser toner, but the page yields are lower. If you don’t print a lot, or you mainly print photographs or high colour images, an inkjet printer will provide high quality prints without high costs when new cartridges are required.

While laser toner cartridges are more expensive than those of an inkjet printer, they do usually produce a greater page yield along with faster print speeds. If you are regularly printing in large quantities, a laser or office spec inkjet printer is one to think about.

What’s The Difference between Block Cartridge or Individual Cartridge?

Inkjet printers either have individual inks or block inks. Printers with individual inks have an individual cartridge for each colour - typically single cartridges for black, cyan, magenta and yellow. These are suitable, if you regularly print photos or documents with single colour, offering you the flexibility to replace the most used colours as and when you need to. Some of the higher price point photo printers also have additional cartridges for grey, or photo-specific blacks, which deliver more natural colours with a deeper contrast.

Block ink combines the three main colours into one single unit. They are likely to be cheaper than buying each ink separately, so a printer with block inks is a great choice if you don't print regularly.

Multipack And Combination Ink Packs

You can choose to buy ink separately or as a combination pack. This pack includes all the cartridges needed for a full top up, and combination ink sets are going to cost less than buying the ink separately, in the long run saving both money and time.

XL And XXL Cartridges

Extra-large ink or toner cartridges offer better value for money, and a higher page yield (more pages from a single cartridge), which reduces the cost to print each page.

The Page Yield

The approximate page yield can be a good guide for determining general usage allowance, but be aware that page yield can vary, depending on the types of pages you are printing. When you print high definition photos, they will use more ink than text documents.

Page yields are always quoted based on a 5% coverage and Cost Per Page. This figure is based on the original manufacturer’s estimates of how many pages a cartridge prints and is designed for comparison purposes. It is derived from the international ISO standard for printing (ISO/IEC 24711 and 24712). For the vast majority of cartridges this means a 5% coverage printed onto plain A4 paper.

Wireless Printing

Wireless printers connect to your PC or Mac using your home Wi-Fi network and can be accessed from anywhere in your home or office.

Several computers and mobile devices can use the same printer, which can be placed any convenient location, in your home or office.

If you are printing from a tablet or smartphone, you will need a printer that features AirPrint, Google Cloud Print or email printing. See below for more information.

JARGON BUSTERS!

Wi-Fi Direct/Wireless Direct:

Wi-Fi Direct provides a wireless connection between a printer and device, even if no Wi-Fi signal is present - suitable for homes and offices without a wireless network, or useful in an office as a backup, if the network fails.

Apple Airprint:

Apple AirPrint allows you to print directly from Apple iOS products. It is built in to iPhones from the 3GS model and up, 3rd generation iPods onwards and all iPads.

Look for Apple AirPrint as a highlighted feature of a printer to ensure you can print from your favourite Apple device.

Google Cloud Print:

Google Cloud Print is included on all Android devices and enables printing wirelessly from your tablet or smartphone. Create or log into a Gmail/Google account to get started. Look for Cloud Print as a highlighted feature to ensure you can print from your Android device.

NFC:

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a new feature to printers. Also sometimes included on tablets and smartphones, it allows two devices to connect simply by touching together, so you are able to sync a printer with another NFC device.

Look for NFC as a highlighted feature on wireless printers.

Email Printing:

Email printing is a feature available on selected printers, offering wireless printing from any email capable device. Each printer has an exclusive, customisable email address and when connected to your Wi-Fi, it will print any images or text documents it receives.

Most printer manufacturers have their own version of email printing. Look out for ‘email printing’ as a highlighted feature.

Print Quality DPI:

DPI stands for Dots Per Inch and is the basic measure of print quality. A printer with a higher DPI delivers clear, detailed pictures. However, other factors such as ink/toner play a part in overall print quality.

If you want to print high quality photographs, a good quality inkjet printer provides enhanced colour reproduction and the glossy, developed-photo style that achieves a professional looking printed image.

Print Speed:

Print speed is mainly measured in pages per minute (PPM) for text and images per minute (IPM) for photographs. You should consider the print speed if you often print in large quantities.

Monochrome Printer:

Monochrome printers print black and white documents only. Monochrome laser printers have higher print speeds over everyday inkjet printers.

Paper Size:

The most commonly printed page size is A4 and the majority of printers print in this format. Many printers can print to smaller paper sizes, so if you would like to print 6 x 4 developed-photos or perhaps specialist envelope sizes, most printers accept a wide range of photo and document paper.

For larger prints look for A3 printers that print in various sizes up to A3. Some are no bigger than A4 printers, making them perfect for small offices or homes where space is something to consider.

Double Sided Printing:

Double sided printing or automatic / manual duplex printing is a really useful element, offering the option to automatically or manually print on both sides of the paper, saving paper!

ADF Feeder:

An Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) enables you to scan or copy multiple documents simultaneously without having to manually insert individual pages. They can be found on scanners and all-in-one printers and are usually positioned on top of the scanner or within the main paper tray.

Memory Card Slot:

Many printers feature a memory card slot. This feature allows you to print directly from an SD or memory card without having to connect to a PC. Insert the memory card and use the printer’s screen to select the documents you want to print.

Pictbridge:

PictBridge makes printing from your digital camera easy. All you need to do, is connect your camera via USB cable to print photos directly, you don’t have to remove your SD card or connect to a computer.

OCR:

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, and is a feature found on some scanners and all-in-one printers. OCR allows a scanned document to be converted into a word processing document, this can then be edited on a PC or tablet. This usually only applies to printed text documents, but some models feature handwriting recognition additionally.

 
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