Finding the perfect printer can be a difficult endeavor. With so many options to choose from and so many different brands, consumers often don’t know what to purchase. Some rely on professional third-party reviews by companies such as Consumer Reports, but others would prefer not to pay a monthly subscription. It is often hard to take a to know if a reviewer is telling the truth and they are not getting paid by the companies they are reviewing. There is little enforcement of consumer protections involving not disclosing paid promotion. Often, a small link in small text that no users actually see is enough to prevent prosecution. None the less, in this post, we will inform you of what to look for when purchasing a new printer.

To start out, there are a few important things to consider.

  • The type of printer you are looking for.
  • How much money you have available to spend.
  • What features you need and what features “would be nice.”
  • How often you plan on using the printer.

For large offices or busy locations such as a library, a small consumer, ink-jet printer will not cut it. Commercial printers are usually all laser jet printers. They are more reliable, but much more expensive. If you are only printing out a few pages a week, this is not the printer for you. But if you plan on using this printer many, many, many times a day, you can’t get anything than a laser jet printer. Laser jet printers often come with a wide variety of features. Many have a built-in copier that can automatically handle 50+ pages per minute. They can also print out pages on both sides, at a high rate of speed. Their ink cartridges last 10-100 times longer than the ink cartridges of an ink jet printer. The benefits of such features and performance make an average office much more productive.

For the average home consumer, they don’t need a commercial printer. While it may be nice to have on some occasions, it is just not practical. Instead of a laser jet, consumers often but an ink jet printer for their homes. Ink jet printers use ink just like the stuff in spray paint or a fountain pen. They often are much slower but can still produce high quality prints. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of ink jet printers.

Pros

  • Easy to maintain. They don’t require a special IT guy to change the ink or add more paper.
  • They can print standard pages, photos, envelopes, card stock, and more.
  • Easy to use. They often have a simple touch screen interfaces that has troubleshooting built in.
  • Inexpensive to purchase. You can get an ink jet printer for as low as $40. They aren’t expensive to produce!

Cons

  • Ink is expensive. The printer might not be expensive, but ink sure is. Companies sell their printers for cheap but crank up the ink prices because they know consumers won’t want to purchase a whole new printer.
  • Unsupportive support. They often have services such as 24/7 printer support. Sadly, the support has very long wait queues that can be annoying to sit in. People often give up instead of finding a solution to a problem.
  • Easy to break. Did you accidentally put in paper the wrong way? Watch out for a paper jam that could make your printer as useful as a brick!

 

While all of those drawbacks may have you questioning ink jet printers, there really is no inexpensive alternative. Sure, you could spend a couple thousand dollars on a commercial laser jet that won’t ever fail you, but most people don’t have that kind of money to spend on a printer. So, we are stuck with what is available which is ink jet printers.

So which ink jet printer is best? (you might be wondering)

Well it all depends on your budget and what features you are looking for. Here are some features that you want to decide if you need before you proceed.

  • Printing (duh!!!) Obviously, you want a printer that prints.
  • Automatic double-sided printing. Some printers will turn the page over for you and automatically print on both sides. Other require you to flip the page yourself and insert it back in the printer. It can be difficult to insert it the correct way and you may end up with some of your pages rotated all around.
  • Do you often find yourself in need of a scanning printer? Do you have documents you need to digitize? Well scanners are important but what you want to scan is even more so. DPI (dots per inch) determines the quality of the scan. If you are scanning photographs, then you want a high number. Usually 800 is best. If you are only scanning text documents, you can settle for much less and still have a legible scan.
  • Do you need to copy or duplicate an existing page or sheet of paper? Copying is a nice feature to have, but as long as you have a scanner, you can do copying manually by scanning and then printing.

Once you have decided what features you want, now you need to pick a budget. Usually $150-$200 is enough to get a decent ink jet printer that will suit your needs. It is vital to consider the price of ink when considering how much you want to budget. Printers usually only come with 1 set of cartridges and you may want more.

 

Picking a printer

This is the tough part. Actually finding out which one to buy. The brands that we find are most reliable are HP and Epson. They are the tried and true brands that have been in competition for many years. Both companies offer comparable printers from many different price ranges. They often come out with new models of previous printers, but they don’t always change that much. Since their printers are already reliable, they usually just make small updates and advertise the new product. Don’t feel like you need to but the most recent model. That is not the case at all. Even a 4-year-old printer is still very useful and can work as your daily driver.

 

Where to buy?

If you prefer shopping in person, the best place to buy a printer is at Office Depot, Staples, or Best Buy. They all frequently run deals and will have discounts so if you don’t need a printer right away, it would be best to wait and save a few dollars. If you prefer shopping online, you can check out the online stores of the previously listed brick and mortar or you can shop at retail giants like Amazon or eBay. Amazon is great because they offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount. That means you can get the product at the same price as going to a store in person, but you don’t even have to go. They also offer express 2-day shipping if you need to get a printer quickly.