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Printers: Easy Choices for Making a Hard Copy

Mark Schwarz

People try to send everything electronically nowadays, to reduce the amount of paper that they consume. It’s sound reasoning, both for the environment, as well as to reduce the amount of clutter in your office or home. But, that doesn’t mean that a computer printer is no longer a necessity. You’ll still encounter instances where you need a “hard copy”. And, many times it’s easier to read and study from a printed document than from a Kindle or computer screen. That’s where buying a printer becomes a necessity.

But how much will you print--and do you need to print in color? Is clear text more important to you? Do you need to print photos or graphics, and you need high resolution that faithfully reproduces the colors of the original? All these questions factor in to which printer to buy.

And, in the realm of hobbies and crafts, there are also printers that use edible ink, so that you can create icing sheets on edible baking paper. Or you can look into sublimation printers, that print personalized designs on clothing and other personal items.

This article will help you sort out some of the specifications behind deciding on buying a printer. Click on one of the links, to get more information about a particular printer type, so that you can home in on what’s best for you.

Types of Printers

  • For the home: If you’re looking for an economical printer to use only for modest print jobs (that is, less than 50 pages a month) at home, there are a number of home printers that fit that description. You’ll probably want an all-in-one printer, that’s also able to serve as a copier, scanner, and even fax machine (apparently some people still have a need for faxes, even nowadays).

  • For the office: Laser printers are the choice of offices and schools, who have to print in large volume. Laser printers use a laser to melt the powder in the toner cartridge and fuse it with the paper. An office that requires a heavy volume of printing jobs will probably prefer either a monochrome laser printer or a color laser printer. You can purchase a monochrome laser printer for under $200, such as the Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer (Model HL-L2350DW) at $179. For comparison, a color laser printer, such as the Brother Compact Digital Color Printer (Model HL-L3210CW) is available for just $243. These models are single-purpose printers: they can’t be used for copying, scanning, or faxing.

  • Specialized printers for hobbyists: There are printers for special crafts. If you want to produce high-quality printouts of pictures, there are photo printers that are made for high-resolution images. These printers are typically equipped with several color ink cartridges, which try to reproduce your photos to maximal accuracy. If you’re interested in printing personalized T-shirts, hats, mugs, and the like, there are dye-sublimation printers, that print special sublimation ink onto these items. If you’re interested in printing on cakes or other pastries, using edible ink, there are also edible printers.

What reviewers say

  • Refilling cartridges: There are Epson Supertank printers, that allow you to refill the ink cartridges yourself. This is a tremendous savings--especially of money, but also it spares you the hassle of having to order new cartridges every so often. An added bonus is that refillable cartridges can be filled with sublimation ink, or even edible ink. That way, you can make your printer a sublimation or edible printer. But beware: A printer intended to print edible graphics can only be used for edible ink. You won’t be able to switch back and forth between edible ink and non-edible ink.

  • Setting up WiFi printing: Since there are so many mobile devices nowadays, it’s a big plus to have a printer that allows for wireless printing, so that you can print from any device. But, one customer who bought the Canon TR8620 All-in-One noted that the printer didn’t automatically detect a WiFi modem to allow for wireless printing. So, be prepared to have to set up the wireless printing yourself. Many printers have a touchscreen, where you can get into the printer’s “Settings” tab with ease, and set the LAN setting for a WiFi device.

Important Features

  • Saving toner and ink: Note that there are options to print quality prints, with high resolution. But, if you don’t need such great quality, like a shopping list or a scratch copy of a term paper, you can choose “toner save mode”, which suffices for less critical documents.

  • Auto-document feeder: If you want to use your all-in-one printer’s scanner function for a set of documents, it’s recommended that you look for one with an automatic document feeder. You just place the document in the hopper, and it scans it page by page. One printer with this feature is the Canon TR8620 All-in-One printer.

  • Printing quality: The inkjet printers typically have better quality in printing images than laser printers, because it has a softer color gradient (=how one color transitions into another). Laser printers are preferred for printing text, however.

Top-Rated Brands

The Brother Monochrome Laser Printer (Model HL-L2300d) can perform double-sided printing automatically. It can achieve up to 2400 x 600 DPI resolution, printing up to 27 pages per minute. It is not a wireless printer, so you can only print using a cable connection. For just a few dollars more, you can buy the Brother Model HL-L2395DW, which has wireless capabilities, and can print a bit faster, at 36 pages per minute.

Brother Monochrome Laser Printer (Model HL-L2300d)

Brother Monochrome Laser Printer (Model HL-L2395DW)

The Canon TR8620 All-In-One Printer is an inkjet printer that is suitable for both home and office use. It can also work as a copier, scanner, and fax, and is suitable for quality printing of photos. It has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, to allow you to print from several computers or mobile devices. It has a large 4.3” touchscreen, to allow you to select and fine-tune the printer function that you want.

Canon TR8620 All-In-One Printer

The HP Deskjet 2722 is an all-in-one color inkjet printer, with wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, so that you can print from your laptop or mobile device without a physical cable connection, by means of the HP SmartApp. It can print with a resolution of 1200 dpi. It doesn’t have an automatic duplex printing option, so you’ll have to print the odd pages, then the even pages, to utilize both sides of the page.

HP Deskjet 2722

The Epson EcoTank ET-2720 Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer allows you to refill the cartridges manually by means of a syringe. This is a tremendous savings, since one bottle of ink can hold the equivalent of 80 ink cartridges. It is a piezoelectric inkjet printer, so it is suitable for sublimation printing as well. It features wireless and even voice-activated printing, and functions as a scanner and copier as well.

Epson EcoTank ET-2720 Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer

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