Estimated reading time: 4 mins
If you work at home frequently, like me, then you’ll know how difficult it can be to decide on what equipment to use that can produce a professional result when we need it, but won’t break the bank. Of all the office equipment choices that must be made for professional use at home use, the most daunting is the selection of a printer.
What I learned is that price shouldn’t be the first consideration in the initial decision-making process. As I need professional results, and for the printer to be reliable, print capacity, speed and additional functions will far outweigh the initial price if the right printer is found. Follow these recommendations to find the best printer for home or office.
- Usage Level – Consider the various job duties that must be supported by the printer and determine how many pages will be printed in an average business day.
- One or Multiple Users – Most printers have networking capability, but if more than ten users will use a printer special consideration must be given to the size, speed, and memory of the printer. One user who will print volumes of information can require a fast printer with high-capacity features. There are situations where one person is afforded a separate printer while the rest of the office shares one printer.
- Colour or Monochrome – Black and white print is usually sufficient for most business applications. For the few colour document requirements, the services of a professional print service may be the most economical approach. Colour ink is more than three times as expensive as black ink, so careful consideration must be given to using colour ink on a daily basis. One colour-capable printer in the office may address the need for the few colour documents that might be printed. Photo printing is best handled by a service.
- Ink Type – For very light use, the best choice may be a small laser printer because inkjet cartridges will dry up if left unused for long periods of time. Very high usage requires high-capacity print cartridges and large paper tray capacity to support multiple users without frequent maintenance activities.
- Price vs. Cost – The purchase price of the printer is only one facet of the cost of ownership. Toner or ink cartridges are a major portion of the maintenance cost of the printer. Every moving part presents another opportunity for breakage that will put the printer out of service and incur cost to repair. Very inexpensive printers can require expensive replacement ink and toner. Evaluate the initial cost and how often the print cartridges must be replaced to support the anticipated print volume.
- Cartridge Considerations – Certain printer brands are very popular which lowers the cost of the replacement toner and ink cartridges since so many people use them. Local suppliers are the best source of cartridges because fresh cartridge stock is important for performance. Brand name cartridges will produce the highest number of printed pages. The number of pages printed from one cartridge is an important aspect in the decision because high-capacity ink cartridges will be less expensive over time.
- Additional Functions – In certain settings, fax, scan, and copy capability can be supported by a multi-function printer. The quality of these multi-function wonders has improved markedly in recent years, and they perform very well at the appropriate use levels. Read product information to determine the recommended use thresholds.
- Economy Features – Ink saving modes are imperative in the high-volume office environment. When the printer can be set for draft mode, the ink usage is reduced by fifty percent. Duplex, or two-sided, printing can be a very useful feature unless speed is the most important consideration.
- Print Quality – Internal documents require a lower resolution and can be printed in draft mode, but external documents must be printed at a higher resolution for the best possible appearance. Marketing materials and graphic-intensive documents will require specialised printers. The percentage of these documents in the overall workload must be considered before purchasing an expensive printer that may not be justified. Professional print services can be more cost effective for infrequent high-quality print jobs.
- Print Capacity – Printers that are considered the workhorses of the industry have the capacity for multiple reams of paper, and their toner cartridges will print thousands of pages before replacement is required. Initial printer price is higher, but the per-page cost over time is lower. Special consideration must be given to the actual need for such high print capacity.
- Size & Location – Printers come in all shapes and sizes, so consider where you’re going to locate your printer. Consider how you’ll be wiring it up (easier if it’s a WiFi printer)
Reading the reviews other people have written can be a useful part of the printer choice as long as care is exercised in evaluating the input from others. When listening to the input from current owners of a given model, make sure the negative feedback is not given because the wrong printer was chosen for the situation. More dissatisfaction results from buying a printer with too few features and print capacity than any other reason. Sizing the printer for the setting is more important than anything, and the choice to purchase more capacity is better than not enough.