Navigating the Holiday Triple Threat: Moms, Dads and Grads

by Reads (10,226)

Some may think that the triple threat of holidays is Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Days, but they would be wrong. The real holiday threesome you need to be prepared for is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Graduation. And the one thing all Moms, Dads and Grads really want this year? A new printer!

Ok, you may be laughing right now, but honestly, these devices are more useful than ever before. And with so many features and functions to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down a style of printer, let alone a brand. So the staff of PrinterComparison.com has come up with some pointers to help guide gift-givers on their quest for the perfect printer for their Mom, Dad, or Grad.

How much do you want to spend?
This is the No. 1 question of the season considering the current economic climate. So before you hit the stores, ask yourself, “how much money do I have to spend on this purchase?” For an idea of what you can get in each price bracket, check out PrinterComparison’s Moms, Dads, and Grads Top Printer Picks!

But don’t forget that although the initial cost may be important now, the long run costs will also determine how much your gift will be used. It’s important to get a general idea of how much it will cost to run your new printer over the long run because a new grad won’t be able to afford what a mom or dad might be able to on ink. So check to see what kind of ink or toner it takes and then find it in the store or online. Most manufacturers will have a general ball park number on prints per cartridge listed on the packaging; divide that by the cost of the cartridge to get an estimate of cost per print.

What do they need?
Manufacturers are advertising the fabulous All-in-One (AIO) or Multifunction printer (MFP) on commercials, in print ads and online. But the question is, “do they really need multiple devices or could they save money by just purchasing a single function printer?” Most AIOs or MFPs offer print, scan and copy capabilities although many office centric or high end multifunction devices offer fax and/or high quality photo capabilities as well. 4-in-1 or 5-in-1 devices will almost always be more expensive than their 3-in-1 counterparts, so make sure that fax and/or photo capabilities are something you need.

Just remember single function units will almost always be cheaper to run over the long run than multifunction units so consider the needs of your Mom, Dad or Grad.

Is wireless connectivity a must?
The answer is ‘no’ for many people who just need a simple desktop printer in their home office or dorm room. But with so many manufacturers now including wireless connectivity as a standard feature in printers over $100, it might not really be much of a choice. The real question to ask is, “what are the other connectivity options on this model?”

There are still people out there that prefer an Ethernet (wired network) connection or even a plain old direct connection via USB; both of which will work fine. Just remember that when a printer is set up over a connection other than wireless, some of the touted features may not work (like web connected applications).

Do they want color?
This really only applies to shoppers looking for a Laser or LED printer as inkjet printers always print in both black and white and color. Consumers can save a good amount of money purchasing a monochrome printer in both initial cost and long run usage because there is no color element. But be careful to make sure black and white is right because a colorless world can be pretty dull.

Also, consider that you won’t be getting lab quality photos from a laser, LED or solid ink printer anytime soon. While these machines print beautiful colors and have their place in many households and businesses, if they want photos, inkjet or dye sub is the way to go. The real question is will they be printing photos for the home or photos to share? If they have a semiserious photography love, you will want to go with a dedicated photo printer.

I’m into the green movement.
When buying a printer, ask a salesperson or look at the specs to see if the printer is Energy Star and/or RoHS compliant. Both are environmental programs helping to conserve energy and protect consumers from harmful materials. Plus, most Energy Star compliant devices will save your gift recipient money on their energy bill; you can’t beat that!

Don’t forget eco-friendly features like two-sided printing (duplexing) or toner saver mode. But make sure to check to see if the printer has automatic duplexing; many times a manufacturer will advertise duplexing as a feature, but users will actually have to flip the document manually to get double-sided results.

What extras can I purchase?
You can always buy a replacement set of cartridges for a new printer. Every printer comes with a starter kit of ink/toner (at least the ones that I’ve come across), but most of the time, they are standard capacity and will be gone quickly. Paper is also important; typically copy paper will be fine for most prints but purchasing some quality photo paper or professional paper may be appreciated for special print outs.

You should also check to see if the right cord is provided for connecting your printer. If you think they’ll set up their new printer over an Ethernet or USB connection, you will need an Ethernet cable or USB print cord. It should say on the box or in the specs if these are included (usually not).

Final thoughts
There are plenty of options to consider when purchasing a new printer for a home or office, but the most important thing is to make sure you get what is needed to accomplish their goals. Whether you are buying a printer that will be shared in a household, or parked in a dorm room, you should take these needs into consideration. Don’t be taken in by all the cool gadgets and excellent marketing!

And don’t forget to check out our Moms, Dads and Grads Buyer’s Guide to get more information on all the hottest new tech products on the market for your Mom, Dad and Grad!

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