Digital printing At Home
Essays. Coupons. Last-minute directions to Grandma’s house. Whatever you need to print, there’s a home printer that can do it. And intense competition among competitors like HP, Epson, Canon and others has forced prices to such absurd lows that you can now walk into a store – even a local supermarket – and walk out with a brand new printer for $60 or even less.
But selecting a home printer can be tough – given so many options – especially with all the convoluted terms that can complicate the process. With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick-and-dirty printer buying guide for selecting a home printer, with simple explanations of the most common terms and our recommendations that will serve a majority of users.
: This guide has been updated to reflect new trends and features.
Inkjet or Laser?
The first question all printer buyers must tackle comes down to a simple matter of what and how much you plan on printing.
Color inkjet printers comprise the bulk of the market simply because they can print just about anything: essays, pie charts, or glossy photos, you name it. But printed text from inkjets doesn’t always look as sharp as from a laser printer, they’re typically slower, and in some cases they cost more to keep running.
Laser printers rule the roost in offices because they can print large volumes of text quickly, reliably, and on the cheap. And besides looking sharper than text from an inkjet, laser printouts won’t run when they get wet. Color lasers have also fallen into the range of affordability for consumers recently, but the cost of replacement color laser toner can be prohibitively high, often making them a poor option for home use.
Unless you plan on printing novels or page after page of school reports, inkjet printers usually make the best bet for home users due to their flexibility. If you need to print a lot of pages, and print them fast, a laser printer is worth considering. They do carry a premium in price, though, over inkjet features with similar speed and often more functionality such as duplexing.