Buying Guide

Are you going to buy a printer?

We tell you what you should pay attention to.

Laser or injection?

To choose well you must be clear about what use you are going to give the printer: what type of documents you usually print and how often.

Laser printers are fast and print text with great quality but if your idea is to print photos, better opt for an inkjet model.

Toner cartridges generally last longer than an inkjet printer’s cartridges: if you print a lot you will not have to replace the cartridges as often.

If on the other hand you print so little that you fear that you could even dry the ink from the cartridges (something that very rarely happens), you have two options: choose a printer that integrates the printhead in the cartridge itself (it is the case of printers that use 2 ink cartridges) or choose a laser model.

The costs of printing per page are similar in laser printers and inkjet models, however in some inkjet printers consumption is triggered if they are used sporadically, something that does not happen with laser technology.

Within the laser printers are some LED models, such as Brother HL – 3040CN and the Dell 1250c printer. The printers LED, unlike the lasers, use multitude of emitting diodes of light to load electrically the zones of the drum where the toner must adhere. It is assumed that this type of printers should be more compact, silent, economical and energy-saving. Although in the case of this device, it does not represent a significant improvement.

The purchase price is what clearly tilts the balance in favor of injection printers. A color laser printer costs as much as a multifunction inkjet printer … but of course, with one of these, in addition to printing, you can scan, photocopy or even send a fax.

The number of cartridges matters …

In laser printers the number of cartridges is always the same, one for each color: black, cyan, magenta and yellow. In inkjet printers however, the options multiply. There are those who use 2, 4, 6 or even more cartridges.

Printers that use only 2 cartridges have a black and a tricolor cartridge. If any of the colors of the tricolor cartridge is exhausted, it is necessary to replace the entire cartridge, with the consequent waste of ink. In these cases the print head is integrated into the cartridge itself so that, if it is damaged, a new set of cartridges would solve the problem. However, the head integrated in the cartridge also makes it difficult to use compatible cartridges for example.

Printers with more than 4 cartridges are usually linked to photographic printing. The additional cartridges are intended to improve the quality of the printed photos but you must also bear in mind that replacing a complete set of cartridges will generally be more expensive.

… and its capacity too

Replacing a set of cartridges may be just as or more expensive than buying a new printer. In addition, when buying the printer, a set of cartridges is included with it, but its capacity is not necessarily the same as that of a normal cartridge.

If you print often, before buying a new printer, check if there are available high capacity cartridges or inexpensive packages of several cartridges since in both cases the cost of printing per page is reduced.

To compare some cartridges with others you can use as a reference the capacity of the cartridge if indicated, along with the number of pages printed according to ISO24711 or its equivalent in toner cartridges.

Toner cartridges print a greater number of pages so they are particularly expensive, € 65 on average per cartridge compared to € 15 on ink cartridges. Replacing the full set of toner cartridges is a considerable expense.

The equipment, a plus

Most printers include Wi-Fi for connection to the home network and many allow printing from your mobile or from the Internet. Automatic two-sided printing and the option to print in black and white when a color is exhausted are extremely interesting. The multi-function automatic feed tray is useful when you often have to scan or photocopy multi-page documents but it also makes the printer more bulky. Although it is not the most common, it is also possible to find models that allow printing and even scanning in A3 size.

3D printers … as useful as they seem?

Although its use is debatable, the first 3D printer to be marketed, presents an innovative concept of 3D printing that some manufacturers claim will eventually dominate in the future. This is the MakerBot Replicator 2 printer. The Replicator 2 is for sale online for the entire public.