A Guide to Picking a Printer
How does one navigate the quagmire that is the printer market today? Consider there are at least 10 major printer manufacturers and each produces at least 50-100 different models of printers. That means there are at least 500 to 1000 models to choose from! What are the key factors to consider in picking a printer?
When it comes to how to pick the right printer, it is no easy task considering the constant advances in printer technology. Every printer today is very unique, as each is created to target a different segment of printing requirements. For one, a quick Google search reveals that it’s an extremely competitive market for printer manufacturers. Every year, new models roll out in droves, all promising the best hardware at the lowest prices for consumers to choose from. For example, you can have a WiFi network-enabled, two-sided printing, touchscreen display, high-quality prints, and many other options for various price ranges. An all-in-one printer enables not only printing capabilities, but also copying, scanning and faxing. Or you can select a new or used laser printer that’s more expensive, but will save you big bucks on running costs including ink and toner. Yet, ultimately both devices do the same thing—they print images on paper.
So, what’s the key to selecting a printer? There are many things to consider when buying a printer, but the key is to identify why you need to make the decision to add a printer to your workspace in the first place.
Determine the number of average prints that will be produced in a month. Look at the current volume of prints whether outsourced or printed on current devices or guesstimate related to how much paper is purchased per month. Each ream of paper contains 500 sheets and a carton of paper contains 10 reams of paper, so each carton contains 5000 sheets of paper.
The higher the volume, the higher the speed needed to get the work out in a reasonable period of time., and the more print jobs you’ll be able to complete.
Mean time between service calls or duty cycle is also related to volume. It’s important to purchase a printer with reliable equipment for high-volume printing.
What is normally printed? Forms, photos, emails, brochures, business cards, books, manuals, charts, presentations, marketing materials etc. What is the percentage of colour vs. b/w printing? Is copying a requirement or just printing? What about scanning and faxing?
Production Printing Considerations
Is color matching or variable data for example for personalized direct mail a requirement?
What about finishing? are the documents stapled, collated, bound, is comb or coil binding needed? Is two- or three-hole punching of paper required? Are transparencies printed?
What media is printed on? Is the paper 20 lb. copy paper stock or are heavier weights needed for covers and inserts? Is stock coated or is some velum or linen for business cards or resumes? Is printing envelopes a requirement for your device?
Who is going to be viewing the prints? Is it personal or internal office usage or is it for marketing your products to the public or to the trade?
Inkjet vs Laser Printers
Now that you’ve considered what needs for which you might need a printer, it’s time to weigh the different options of printers out there to fulfill your needs.
Inkjet used to be used for low volume impact printing. The cost per print was substantially higher than laser so most desktop inkjet printers have been replaced by laser printers.
Today Inkjet is used for high-volume production printing and density of the ink determines the cost per page. If you’re comparing different new or used office printers, it’s likely you’re seeing these big two nouns thrown about: Inkjet and Laser. While both of these are indeed printers, they’re also different types of hardware. Each prints in a different way than its counterpart, and they all have their own pros and cons.
Inkjet printers squirt liquid ink through a piece called the “printhead” to create an image. By and large, the quality of color inkjet printing outperforms that of laser technology. The images are precise, skillfully blended, and dynamic and sometimes luminescent. In which case, the inkjet enthusiast often looks like:
- A Photographer – Inkjet’s can—generally speaking—print better photographs than laser.
- A Graphic Designer – Graphic design, stylized and colorful prints, decks and wireframes, a graphic designer will typically prefer the print quality of an inkjet.
- The Occasional Printer – While this may seem counterintuitive, for casual printing inkjets are typically the smarter and more affordable choice.
What Are the Drawbacks?
While inkjets are what you can consider the “superior” printer (regarding quality), there are two aspects that are predominantly negative.
- Cost – While cheaper upfront, being that inkjet ink or toner dries up if left stationary (meaning it goes fast), certain types of paper need to be purchased for specific purposes, and as the hardware wanes, costs can build over time.
- Speed – What inkjets have in precision, they lack in rapid output. If you’re in an office setting that needs tons of everyday printing, an inkjet won’t do it as quickly as a laser.
Laser printers force a light source into a concentrated area that beams directly onto the toner, thus melting it on the page. For those of us that don’t need the snazziest portraits or gallery-worthy photographs, laser printers can save money in the long-run (they’re still more expensive upfront). In which case, who buys a laser printer?
Hint: this printer is the office workhorse.
- The Office Manager – If an office needs to print a ton of monochrome (think law firm or film development house) then a black and white laser printer will execute the tasks quicker and won’t need as many toner reups. The everyday running costs are much lower.
- The Casual Printer – Those that need printers to scan more than a document here and there, with very little need for color, whom also have fantastic foresight, will purchase a laser printer to save many in associated “toner costs.”
So, What’s The Purpose of this Printer?
Now that you’ve learned the baseline information regarding printer hardware, you can begin to articulate the rest of the picture. What exactly are you going to be using your printer for? Do you envision yourself printing and scanning documents in black and white, as well as color? If you’re a casual printer on a budget less of any extreme printing preferences, the above says: INKJET. If you’re like Andy Warhol but with a camera—you’re going to want to choose a photo INKJET.
But if you’re in an office of 15 that needs to print tons of documents on a daily basis, then an industry-grade LASER is likely your best bet of the three options.
Lastly, what’s your budget? Is the office trying to up their equipment? Are you starting a photography business?
Why Buy Refurbished?
Buying a refurbished printer allows you to find the printer of your dreams but at the price of one you would’ve settled on. We’ve worked in the industry for 30 years restoring countless machines, all with one goal in mind—to provide you professional grade printers at a fraction of the cost. We specialize in Xerox refurbished production technology . We are the leaders in refurbishing Xerox technology and our equipment is guaranteed for Xerox service.
We can offer most of the Xerox cutsheet production technology new or refurbished.
In which case, should you need some help on how to pick a printer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or refer to our printer types comparison cheat sheet! We will evaluate with you all of the things discussed in this article and help you make the wisest choice. We’re more than willing to answer any and all questions. And we’re certain that whatever your needs, we have the printer for you.
“This endeavor would be but posthaste, for we had a printer.” -Benjamin Printon—on the writing of the U.S. Constitution.
PC World. How to Choose the Best Printer For Your Business. Melissa Riofrio. March 10th, 2019.
LD Products. InkJet vs Laser: Which Printer Should You Get? Anna Cruz. Updated: September 18th, 2019.
Explain That Stuff! How Do Laser Printers Work? Chris Woodford. Updated: August 13th, 2018.