Pick the Perfect Printer: Top Ten Questions

by Reads (1,486)

Mother’s Day has come and gone but there are plenty of grad parties and cookouts ahead, not to mention Father’s Day in mid-June. And although it may not be the first thing one thinks of as the perfect gift, a new printer can be a great addition to dorm rooms, new apartments or home offices!

The staff of PrinterComparison wants to make sure you pick the perfect printer for your grad or dad so check out our updated buyer’s checklist with ten questions everyone should consider before purchasing a new printer!


1. How much do you want to spend?
This is the No. 1 question of the season considering the economic climate. So before you hit the stores, ask yourself, “how much money do you have to spend on this purchase?” For an idea of what you can get in each price bracket, check our Moms, Dads, and Grads buyer’s guides: Best Budget Friendly Laser-Class Printers and Best Creative Inkjets for the Home and Dorm!

2. How much will consumables cost?
The second most important question, although you can make the argument that it should be the first. Either way, it’s important to get a general idea of how much it will cost to run the new printer over the long run. After all, a new grad probably can’t afford replacing expensive ink cartridges every few weeks. 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.

3. Is Multifunction the ticket?
Manufacturers love to advertise all-in-one (AIO) or multifunction printers (MFP) as the most cost effective solution. But question is will you really be saving if you purchase a more expensive device when your grad or dad really only needs to print?

4. You decided yes. So which AIO or MFP is right for your grad or dad?
Most AIOs or MFPs offer print, scan and copy capabilities. However, many of the flagship multifunction devices now 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.

5. To go wireless or not? That is the question!
Cutting the cord is more prevalent than ever in today’s world and the printing industry is not immune to that trend. Many manufacturers are touting a built-in wireless connectivity as a major feature, but should you pay extra for it? Well, two questions can answer this dilemma for you: “does your grad or day have a network in your home or office?” And “will they want to share their device with other users?” If the answer is yes to both, then you’ll want to consider either a Wi-Fi or Ethernet (wired network) connection. If the answer is no to either, than a plain old direct connection via USB will work just fine.

6. Are they a colorful person?
This question really only applies to shoppers looking for a laser-class printer as inkjet printers always offer color printing. Consumers can save a good amount of money purchasing a monochrome laser-class 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 really right because a colorless world can be pretty dull.

7. They want color; can they print lab quality photos?
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 you want photos, inkjet or dye sub is the way to go. The real question is if your dad or grad will be printing photos for the home or photos to share? If they have a semiserious photography love or are planning to get into the photography business, you will want to go with a higher end dedicated photo printer.

8. The green movement is important, is there a printer out there that considers that?
The answer is yes. 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.

9. So it will conserve energy, but can a printer do more than that?
Again, the answer is yes. Two-sided printing (duplexing) is another feature you’ll want to look for when interested in conserving, whether it is for Mother Earth or your wallet. 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 in order to get double-sided results.

10. What extras will I have to purchase?
Depending on how you answered the above questions, you will have to buy supplies for a new printer. Every printer comes with a starter kit of ink/toner but you may want to purchase a second set depending on print volume. Paper is important; typically copy paper will be fine for most prints but photo paper or professional paper may be needed to accomplish some goals. Finally, you need to make sure you have the right cord for your connection. If you plan on setting up your 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 whether either is included. If not, ask someone!


Looking for more technology gift ideas for moms, dads or grads?  Go to our MDG Special Report Buyer’s Guide for top picks and articles from across our sites!?



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