Printer Features To Consider Before Buying A Printer

Printer Features and it’s list grows every year at a breathtaking pace. And with it, so does the confusion. I’m a list person – give me a list of the most popular features and I’ll cross out the unimportant ones, so I can prioritize the ones I need most. To that (and I need a new printer), here’s my list of features…

Printer feature basics

  • Single-Function Printer – just prints without bells and whistles. When all you need is to print documents, this is the device for you.
  • Multi-Function Printer – print, copy, scan and fax. This device allows you to do it all. You can do a quality scan of documents and photos. Acts like a standard copier for reproducing originals. And, if you’re hooked to a phone line, send and receive faxes. Say, your mortgage company sends you a contract – you can print it, sign it, scan it and send it back to them (would someone please tell me why they require a fax when the rest of the world uses a PDF?).
  • Wi-Fi Enabled Printer – connects to your network and might allow web printing. Wireless printing is fantastic for your small business or home. A variety of devices can connect to your printer at the same time and send documents or photos to be printed. Your associate processes a customer order on their tablet and, by the time they get back to the counter, the order is printed.
  • Bluetooth Printer – allows wireless connection to computers and devices. This allows you to connect to your printer without a network. When I go on vacation, I can take my printer with me to the lake and we can print and share photos. All I need is power (and I have that covered).
  • Photo Printer – dedicate photo printer, usually with memory card readers. Although you can use regular paper, photo printers do best with photo paper. You can grab a shot of your daughter with the new puppy and have it printed in a frame to give to her grandmother in a matter of minutes, knowing it will last for years.
  • Color Printer – 4, 6 or more colors used to print images. Most color printers are four colors – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. With these four colors, you can print high-quality documents and fairly good quality photos. With the addition of more colors, quality goes up.
  • Monochrome Printer – Black only, prints blacks and grayscale very economically.
  • Mobile Printer – compact, battery-operated portable printer. Crazy as it sounds, my insurance adjuster has one of these in her car. She wrote up my claim, contacted the roofing company, printed me out the estimate and cut me a check on the spot – all from her battery-operated printer.
  • Toner-based Printer – special powder fused to paper, low per page cost, higher entry price. A laser printer is the cost-effective way to go if you print a lot. It provides rapid printing with no dry time. The cartridges provide thousands of prints instead of about a hundred. Quality laser printers produce good quality sheets for pennies a page. If you’re printing photos to frame, laminate them before you frame them so the toner won’t stick to the glass.
  • Ink-based Printer – more vibrant colors but higher per page cost, low entry price. Dye sublimation inks are a water-based ink that changes the color of the paper. Pigment inks are extremely vibrant inks that produce photos as good as traditional photo retailers. Plus, pigments are UV safe in most cases, ensuring longer life when exposed to light.
  • Duplex – prints on both sides of a page. Duplexing is a great option for any use where double-sided printing is used. Sure, you can flip the sheet over and feed it back into the printer, but this takes time and sometimes contaminates your rollers where a true duplexing printer does it all for you.
  • Letter tray – holds standard 8.5×11 sheets. Most often, the sides can be adjusted in to accommodate.
  • Legal tray – holds 8.5×14 and may also hold letter sheets.
  • Tabloid tray – holds 11×17 sheets (folds down to 4-page letter flyer) and usually adjustable to hold all smaller sizes.
  • Multiple trays – two or more paper sizes or types can be accessed (ex: letterhead in one, second sheets in the other).
  • Photo printer – designed to print high-quality photos with special inks.

Many printers have way more features than you’re ever going to need. For example, if you’re looking to print accounting documents only, a monochrome printer might be best – printing a copy of someone’s tax return for their records doesn’t really require color printing. A sales staff would like the ability to personalize double-sided flyers for specific group of customers they meet at a trade show, so a four-color duplexing printer would fit their needs. If your family wants to print photos, a multi-function photo printer could be an ideal solution.

Remember that sometimes there are tradeoffs with different models. Ink is better for photos but the per page price is high. Color toner printers can print photos but they’re not as vibrant. With a Wi-Fi printer, your staff could send you documents from their tablets on the road with the ease of a fax. And all-in-one printers are not very portable.

My wife wants to print photos, check that one. Vibrant colors – ink is a must. Since I have a high-resolution camera, 8×10 photos or larger. The ability to scan and reproduce family photos in order to build an album before the stories get lost is a must. Connectivity wireless to computers, cell phones and tablets. Reasonable entry price. The Canon Pixma ip8720 seems to be the right choice. Plus, I can bet a 10-pack of cartridges for under $30 so everyone can print as much as they want.

No matter what solution is best for you, SuppliesOutlet will have high-quality, low price compatible inks and toners so you can get the most out of your printer.


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