Five Essential Qualities to Look for in a Printer

Published: 05th June 2009
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Do you remember the good old days of the dot matrix printer? Do you remember the holed computer paper it required and how hard it was to feed this continuous paper into the printer without getting it in a bit crooked? Do you remember just how loud the old dot matrix machines were? If you remember all this, then you also remember the joy you experienced when you laid eyes on your first laser printer! Of course, printers have come a long way, and a laser printer is no longer the holy grail of printers. If you are in the market for a new printer, here are five essential qualities you may wish to look for in your printer:

Resolution is a number one quality. Dot matrix printers did not deliver very good images, but inkjet printers (which essentially deliver tiny droplets of ink onto the paper when preparing the image) offer such a high resolution that they are often used to create photo-quality images. The resolution itself is measured as dots per inch (dpi), and high end models deliver resolutions of up to 1440x720 dpi.

Operating economy is a definite number two. As nice as the high resolution images an ink jet printer creates are, the ink is expensive and the process is comparatively slow. For this reason, a laser printer makes for a wonderful alternative. This kind of printer moves very quickly and thus creates pages truly at the greatest speed imaginable. 80 to 100 page documents may be printed in a fraction of the time an ink jet printer will require. Additionally, a laser printer is less expensive to operate, since a toner cartridge for such a device lasts for a very long time, and thus in the long run makes it cheaper to operate than an ink jet printer which needs to have its toner cartridges replaced quite frequently.

Photo-lab quality is a number three essential, since it only affects a certain demographic of computer users. For most users, an ink jet will offer enough resolution to create photo-quality images but those who will rely on the computer for most of their photographic imagery manipulation needs, as well as those who are in the business of photography, dye-sublimation printers will permit them to have their own photo lab inside their office and home. Because of the processes involved in this method of printing, individual dots are softened by a gradation process, which will allow these images to appear crystal clear.

For those who regularly print large volumes of documents, black print speed (which is the amount of time it takes for a printer to print out a black and white page) is a serious concern, yet since this is again a smaller demographic, it is rated as a number four quality. Although much more expensive than their slower working cousins, these printers offer a 400 x 400 dpi resolution and a speed 70 pages per minute which is an amazing feat!

Final considerations for those with special printing needs are the maximum media printers. This form of printing refers to the maximum size and format of paper (which is the medium) which the printer is able to print on. Most every printer uses the standardized 8.5x11 size sheets of paper. Yet some printers will allow for specialized receipt rolls or payroll checks which are essentially akin to the old dot matrix continuous feed paper. Other specialized printers may print out envelopes, folders, ledger pages and even tabloid sized papers.

It is easy to see that there is a specialized printer out there for every need. Prior to running out and purchasing one, however, a user must be very clear on the importance certain features will or will not have for the intended use. It would not make much sense to spend a lot of money on a high resolution photographic image printer, when the actual use the printer is intended for are long printouts of manuscripts devoid of any images. Similarly, a laser printer is a great piece of office machinery, but a home photo lab will not do well in using it to create high resolution images. No matter what the need is, we have come a long way since the first dot matrix printers made their whirring sounds in the computer landscape.

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