Printer selection: How to choose the right one

Whether for a home or office use, printers are widely used everywhere for creative endeavors, legal documents, even travel applications. This article will help to guide you in your printer selection.

Do you want a standard stand-alone printer, or a multi-function all-in one device, which includes a scanner and copier (some models even have faxing capabilities)?

If you just want to print documents, a stand-alone printer is more affordable and will suit your needs. However, if you plan to scan photos to preserve them, copy birth certificates for visa purposes, or anything like that, go for the multi-function printers.

Do you want an inkjet or a laser printer?

Inkjet printers uses ink cartridges, liquid dye or pigment based material. The ink cartridges are loaded into the print head, which is fitted with numerous microscopic ink nozzles. As the print head moves back and forth across the paper, the nozzles create the image with droplets of ink.

Inkjet printers have become the standard for home computer use. If one typically prints a combination of text, graphics, and photos, an inkjet is the better choice. For convenience, they usually have two cartridges; black and tri-color ink. Special inkjets for photo printing can have individual color cartridges, normally black, cyan, yellow, magenta and photo ink. Some inkjets can also make borderless prints, most commonly on 4×6 (4R) paper. There is a new inkjet printer innovation using the ink tank system technology, suitable for users printing high volume, instead of cartridges, it makes use of individual ink tanks to be refilled; ideal for small-medium businesses. However, this is not suitable for typical home printing, since the ink will evaporate and dry up if not used for a period of time.

Another option for those who want the volume of laser printer, but still want to use ink cartridge technology, HP has Officejet models, while Canon has Maxify.


Laser printers makes use of toner cartridges, a powder based printing agent. A laser printer first draws an electrostatic template of the image onto a rotating metal drum inside the printer. The drum, which is covered in photosensitive material, starts out with either a positive or negative charge. An extremely precise laser alters the electrical charge in certain spots according to data fed from the computer. The drum is then coated in magnetically charged toner, but the fine particles only adhere to the areas where the laser previously defined the image. Next a sheet of paper, which has also been magnetically charged, rolls past the drum and draws the toner away. Lastly, the fuser sets the image by warming and melting the plastic particles.

Lasers are usually associated with office environments and volume printing, where they produce sharp, smudge-free printouts quickly, quietly and economically, using toner cartridges, but this can be just as useful at home or in a home office.

Options are monochrome laser for text printing, or a color laserjet for those who want to print images.


Printing technology has improved substantially, with different brands making innovations in their manufacturing processes and developing quality tested printers and cartridges. Over the years, we have seen printers become more affordable and increasingly full-featured.

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