Printers were first introduced in 1984 by Hewlett Packard, having a printing capacity of just 2 pages per minute.
Today, we find many types of printers with various features, including copier and scanner options with fast printing speeds. The latest 3D printers are also now available in market.
Selecting the best printer for your requirement is a confusing task, especially with so many added features to suit everyone’s requirements. When selecting a printer to buy, you need to focus on two important things: the initial cost and the ongoing cost of the printer i.e. the need to replace ink cartridges/toners. Per page cost is provided by the manufacturer.
Inkjet printing technology was first introduced in the 19th century but intensive work on the inkjet technology was done in 1970s by 4 major printer manufacturing companies i.e. HP, Canon, Epson and Lexmark.
In previous times, the inkjet technology was only capable of printing text or image on a single page. Now the latest inkjet printer models are capable of printing both text and images on the same page.
In inkjet printers, printing is achieved by dropping ink droplets from one or more cartridges onto the page. Each manufacturer uses a slightly different technique. The difference is created by changing the size of the droplet, no. of droplets per square inch on page, and the algorithm for dropping these droplets on the page.
Inkjet printers are available in following types:
- Basic Document Printer
- Colour/Photo Printer
- All in one (Printer/Copier/Scanner)
- Inkjet printers are portable and available in smaller sizes.
- Prices of inkjet printers are lower than LaserJet printers.
- Cartridges of inkjet printers are cheaper than LaserJet.
- Replacing cartridges is very easy.
- Photo quality of inkjet printers is very high.
- Per page print cost of inkjet printers is greater than LaserJet printers.
- Printing speed of these printers is slower than LaserJet printers.
- Cleaning the cartridges is a messy task.
Inkjet printers are best for home users and for using in small and medium sized offices. Inkjet printers range in price from £30 to £100 .
The LaserJet printing technology was introduced in 1984 by Hewlett Packard. LaserJet printers are more popular because of their faster printing speed, less print cost per page and better print quality. A photographic drum is used to attract electrically charged molecules thus creating a print onto the paper. The head roller is used for fusing the image onto the paper.
LaserJet printers are available in following types:
- Basic Document Printer
- All in one (Printer/Scanner/Copier)
- Printing speed of LaserJet printers is faster than inkjet printers.
- It is less messy to clean the toner of a LaserJet printer than cleaning the cartridge of inkjet printers.
- Toner cost of LaserJet printer is higher than the cartridge cost of inkjet printers.
- LaserJet printers are larger in size than inkjet printers.
- These printers tend to make more noise when printing documents.
- Colour printing cost is greater than the same for inkjet printers.
LaserJet printers are expensive than inkjet printers. LaserJet printers range in price from £100 to £1000s. Being so much more expensive, LaserJet printers are not suitable for home users or for small business with a low budget.
Students use printers for printing thesis, assignments and general purpose documents. Many printer models now have scanner and copier features. These 3 in 1 printers are best suited for students. The printing cost per page of is much lower.
Price range of these monochrome printers start from £30.
Home users tend to buy printers with maximum features for printing documents, newsletters and even images with minimum printing cost. The best choice for home users is the versatile and affordable inkjet colour printer.
If you are a keen photographer and need a printer for printing colour pictures, ensure that this features are available in your printer. Inkjet printers are the best choice for printing colour images. You need to check for supported papers, ink set, supported paper sizes and the paper path options.
Inkjet printers suitable for photographers are available in price starting from £700. LaserJet printers are not best option for photographers.
For offices, the best printers have networking and wireless printing features, with minimum per page print cost. While selecting printers for offices, one must consider the print speed, tray capacity, wireless connectivity, networking feature, cost per page, power consumption, monthly duty cycle, internal memory and processor. Processor and internal memory should be enough to process the office printing work load with ease.
Price of printers meeting office printer requirement starts from £500.
As discussed above, printers are differentiated according to their print technology. Inkjet printers are best choice for colour printing while LaserJet printers are best for monochrome printing.
Inkjet printers are cheaper than LaserJet printers.
For purchasing printers for offices, the print speed is an important feature to consider. The print speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm), characters per minute (cpm) and images per minute (ipm) capacity. Business consumers tend to require greater print speeds.
Max. Print speed in printers is 40ppm.
Greater processor speed is required for using printers in large offices so as to be able to handle the excessive work load and meet the printing needs.
Minimum processor speed recommended for large offices printer is 600 MHz.
For large offices, the printer internal memory should be greater in size, so that it may serve more print queries that are in queue.
For home users the recommended internal memory is 64 MB (512 MB for printing colour images) and for offices, the internal memory should be up to 1 GB.
Students and office consumers require automatic duplex printing, as this saves time and reduces the cost of printing.
Automatic duplex printing feature is available only in latest printer models.
Duty cycle is the maximum no of prints recommended by the manufacturer to be printed per month. This limit should never be exceeded.
Duty cycle varies in every printer.
Scanner is an extra feature available in most of the latest printers. Printers with scanner are costly than others. Scanner printers can also be used as copiers. When focusing on the scanner feature in the printer, the scanning and copier speed must be kept in mind and checked.
Recommended resolution for scanner and printer is 600*600 DPI. The scanner and copier speed should be up to 40ppm.
In offices where a printer is shared by many employees, the printer must have network connectivity features. For network connectivity Wi-Fi and LAN features are embedded in printers. USB port may also be used for sharing printer over a network.
Wi-Fi and LAN connectivity features must be part of printer.
Wireless printing feature is also required in offices. Those printers having network connectivity feature can print documents wirelessly.
Printers with wireless print feature are very costly and cost in thousands of pounds.
Making sure compatibility of the printer with most of the operating systems is very important. Some printers do not support all operating systems.
Most of the printers do not support Mac operating system. So, if you want to connect with Mac operating system you must check its compatibility with operating systems.
Input capacity means number of sheets capacity per input tray of printer.
Home printers normally have an input capacity of 200 pages per input tray while business printers come with 500 sheets input capacity per tray.
All in one printers consume more power than simple printers having only a printing feature. Power consumption should be low for office printers where the printer is extensively used. Low power consumption saves ongoing expenses.
All in one printers consume power about 800 to 900 Watts.