Printers come in all shapes and prices. Some are inexpensive and are great at performing one function, while others bear a bigger sticker price but are capable of doing a lot more. If you’re in the market for a new printer and want to know what you should look for, take a look at our quick list of considerations to help find the printer that’s right for you.
Multifunction printers, also known as all-in-one printers, combine a number of functions in one compact device. You can find multifunction printers that not only print, but that also serve as fax machines, photocopiers, and scanners. The benefit of buying an all-in-one printer is that they take up far less space than individual units for each purpose.
Keep in mind that not all multifunction printers come with equal levels of versatility. If you don’t need a fax machine or copier but could make good use of a simple printer/scanner, you can save money by seeking out a printer that’s loaded with the right combination of devices to meet your needs.
Look for Money/Energy Saving Features
Energy Star, Blue Angel, and Environmental Choice certified printers minimize the consumption of power and can have a beneficial impact on your electricity bill. The printers accomplish this through programmable post-print shutoff and auto sleep modes that minimize their power drain.
Printers capable of duplexing can also save money by printing to both sides of a sheet of paper, cutting your printer paper use in half. Some printers come with automatic duplexing, which physically re-feeds a sheet of paper so that it can print on the opposite side without having to turn it over yourself. Others come with dual printer heads that can print to both sides of a sheet simultaneously, shaving time off lengthy print jobs while saving paper.
Other energy- and resource-saving printing tips include saving ink by leveraging draft mode for printing internal memos; choosing a printer that has separate cartridges for different colors so you can replace ink only when necessary; and enabling low ink notifications so that you don’t run out of ink in the middle of an enormous print job and have to waste paper to do it all over again.
What to Look For in a Photo Printer
Not all printers have what it takes under the hood to produce high quality photo images. Likewise, the technology itself may be less conducive to photo printing. Laser printers are more efficient for printing text, whereas inkjet printers are better for printing photo quality images. You can also buy printers manufactured specifically for printing photos and images. Before you buy a printer, determine how often you’ll rely on quality images in your final product. If the quality of images is important, get a dedicated photo printer or an inkjet printer.
To Ink or Not to Ink?
To the uninitiated, the concept of an inkless printer is probably about as peculiar sounding as the idea of a paperless printer, but they do exist. Inkless printers combine toner powder with static electricity to burn images to paper, requiring no ink. The benefit of an inkless printer is that you can save money on replacement ink cartridges – however, inkless printers require a special type of paper that can withstand the heat generated in the process, which costs more than standard printer paper.
Don’t Forget About Printer Security
Most multifunction printers come with wireless capabilities. This means that you can connect them to your home or office network and deliver print jobs through local Wi-Fi. The convenience of being able to print without having to physically connect a USB cable is freeing. But sometimes freedom comes at a cost. Print jobs that are sent through an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection can be intercepted by hackers. For this reason, be sure that your network is protected with WPA2 encryption. But don’t stop there. Make it a point to download printer manufacturer patches on a regular basis; disable your printer’s physical ports to prevent unauthorized use; and finally, as an added step, enable all print jobs to require a password or PIN code.
Pay attention to the printer’s built-in security features, which can come by way of software that monitors activity and lets you know if your printer has become compromised. Other security features to look for include the ability to manually or automatically purge stored print jobs from the printer’s memory cache, as well as internal disk encryption that keeps your personal information safe from prying eyes.