Choosing A Computer Printer

Shop for the best deal and long-term economy when selecting a computer printer for use at work or at home.

If you are in the market for a computer printer, don't just buy the first one you find at a decent price. There are several things to consider when buying, using, storing, maintaining, and repairing this piece of equipment.

Browse your local computer dealer like CompUSA or Best Buy to check out the various models on display. Typically, most stores have one or more models hooked up and turned on for customer use. Print a few copies to check contrast, clarity, and speed, along with other printer features you are looking for.

You can also go online to visit sites like PC Mall that provide verbal descriptions and visual depictions of popular printers in today's market. Many include product specifications and reviewers' comments to give you an idea of how each model performs. Popular models include Lexmark, Hewlett Packard, and Cannon.

Decide which features are important before you go shopping. For example, do you need photo production and color printing? How about two-sided copies and a sort tray? You should also have an idea of what type of resolution you need in terms of sharpness and darkness.

For example, the HP LaserJet 1012 Laser Printer offers black and white resolution. Users rate this model as excellent for ease of use, paper handling, and print quality. Available in a variety of stores and outlets, the price ranges from $129 to $240.

Additional considerations are speed, noise, and size. Some users are satisfied with 13 copies per minute, while others need faster printing service. A few models can emit a noticeable level of noise while printing, but most do not cause disruptive noises while in use. Size may be important when you have limited desk space for it to set on. Remember that you also will need holding areas for the printed documents and packaged preprint paper.

Most printers currently use inkjet or laser printing styles. Laser is more economical in terms of the toner cartridge and longevity of its use. A color printer will cost more, of course.

Product name is important to those who know and trust specific manufacturers. If you are a true-blue HP fan, you are unlikely to switch to Cannon equipment unless there is a compelling reason to do so. There are many types of printers with competitive features and pricing to satisfy customers from every camp.

Design is another criterion that plays a key role with some buyers. If you like the high-tech look of shiny metal or cool vinyl, you will be able to choose from among dozens or hundreds of printers at computer equipment fairs, warehouses, or large-scale appliance stores. Naturally, you will want to match it to the monitor and other equipment you already have in use at home or work.

Price may play a role in the printer you decide to buy. Many are available for $100 or so, especially when rebates are factored in. But keep in mind that price alone should not be your main consideration, unless you truly are on a tight budget. Look for the features you need at a price you can afford to ensure quality production of your printed documents.

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