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Buying a printer?

Special to the DailyOn Technology: Click and Hack
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Printers have come a long way in the past 20 years, and so have our printing needs. The market has responded with a plethora of devices all sure to make your life easier, right? Before you go and buy the latest and greatest, take a few moments to consider what your printing needs really are. You might need less than you think. There are many different types of printers, and each has its own positive and negative aspects.

Inkjet printers are the most common today; they are also the most affordable for low-volume users. These printers typically produce good quality color and monochrome text, graphics and pictures. The versatility of inkjets makes them perfect for the home user and student, or even the small office that does relatively low-volume printing (inkjets are generally slower than lasers). Inkjet printers can be used to print color photos, especially if you use good photo paper and the printer properties are set to “best” or “photo” mode. If printing photos is your primary use for your printer, however, you might instead consider a photo specific printer, which simplifies the photo printing process by allowing you to connect your digital camera directly to the printer, thereby bypassing the computer. The biggest advantage of inkjets is definitely their initial cost, which is low ($50-$150), but be aware that the real cost comes in over the long term with replacement cartridges sometimes costing almost as much as the printer itself.

One of the more popular trends in printing is multifunction inkjet printers. They don’t just print; many also copy, scan and fax. These printers will cost more than traditional inkjet printers ($100 and up), but you may find the investment worth it, especially if you have a home office or small business. Laser printers are another popular type of printer, and may actually cost you less in the long term if you print a lot of pages. Laser cartridges tend to be more expensive to replace than inkjet cartridges, but they’ll produce many more pages, making the cost per page much less expensive than inkjets. In recent years the price of laser printers has dropped significantly and they can now be found for under $200, making them more available to home users and those who desire a better text quality. A step above the laser printer is the color laser. Unless you have some reason to frequently print high-quality, color brochures, you can forego the expense of a color laser printer. Prices can start around $350, rising steeply from there.



Finally, consider how the printer will connect to the computer? Most modern printers are USB only. Some older ones don’t have a USB port. There are adapters that can overcome this problem by adding a USB port to an older computer.The PC World site (www.pcworld.com) offers helpful charts and side-by-side comparisons of printers in every shape and size.E-mail comments and questions to clickandhack@friscocomputerstore.com.


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