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So now that you know the variety of printers that are available to you. It’s important to understand the specifications and features that you need to consider when selecting a printer for your home or office. For many consumers, the sheer volume of options can make the purchasing process overwhelming. Don’t let the massive selection overwhelm you. Here we will discuss the specs and features that you need to focus on and will help you understand why they are important.
One of the important things you need to consider when purchasing a printer is how fast the printer is able to print a page. After all, if you commonly print 50-page documents, you don’t want to be waiting all day for your printer to finish the job.
Printer speed is referred to as ppm (pages per minute). This number refers to the pages per minute a printer can print. If you need a fast printer, the higher the “ppm” the better the printer will work for you. It is important to understand that printers that only print in black and white will have a higher ppm than color printers. If you are purchasing a printer that can print in black and white and color, make sure you look at the ppm rate for both color printing and black-and-white printing. For example, if the ppm for a printer is up to 20 ppm in black and white and 16 ppm in color, that means the printer can print up to 20 pages per minute when you are printing black and white documents and up to 16 pages per minute when you are printing colored documents. The exact document you are printing will have an impact on the actual ppm speed of the printer.
The term “dots per inch” refers to the number of dots that a printer can fit into a line in the span of one inch. The higher the DPI, the better the image quality will be. Printers with a higher DPI tend to produce clearer, more detailed images. A printer, however, does not necessarily have just one DPI measurement. The DPI of a machine at a given time will depend on the print mode, which is influenced by the driver settings and whether you are printing in color or black and white. It’s important to understand the range of DPI a printer is capable of when purchasing a printer if image quality is of concern.
There are a number of ways in which a printer can hook up to a computer or other device. Some printers must be connected to a computer using a printer cable with a special connector, referred to as a 9-pin connector or a parallel connector. Others will use a USB or micro USB connector. There are even some printers that can connect wirelessly over a wireless network, meaning your printer doesn’t even have to be physically connected to your computer at all. This is great if you work from a laptop and move from one room to the other while working on your PC.
If you commonly print two-sided documents, you may want to look into a printer that has two-sided printing capabilities. Some of today’s printers can only print on one side of the page while others can perform two-sided printing options. Unless you print two-sided documents, this feature shouldn’t be of much concern. If, however, you find that you frequently print documents that need printing on more than one side of the page, you are going to want a printer that features the two-sided printing option.
If you save data like documents and photographs to memory cards, a printer with a memory card slot can save you a lot of hassle. This will allow you to print your document directly from the memory card rather than having to open each document on your computer and print from there. Many people who utilize memory cards on a regular basis prefer printers that offer the memory card slot option.
Many of today’s color printers also have the ability to print color photos. You will need special photo card stock to print photos on these printers, but by using the photo card stock in your printer you can print photographs instantly from the comfort of your own home. Oftentimes these printers also have memory card slots so you can take the memory card right out of your camera or smart phone and print the pictures directly from the printer.
The type of ink that you want to use will be a big deciding factor when purchasing a printer. Inkjet printers tend to be cheaper initially, but the ink refills can add up over time. Laser printers often pose a higher up-front investment, but the toner cartridges tend to last longer and the cost to print a page is cheaper than that of an inkjet printer.
The maximum duty cycle of a printer is the number of pages the printer can theoretically handle during a given period of time – usually one month. For example, if you purchase a printer with a max duty cycle of 5,000 pages, then your printer can handle a workload of approximately 5,000 pages per month. If you do a lot of printing, this is a spec that you want to take note of as you need to be sure you purchase a printer that can keep up with your demands.
Printers come in all shapes and sizes. There are small portable printers and large printers for commercial use. When purchasing a printer you need to consider the space you have available and be sure that the printer you are purchasing will fit into that given space.
Do you want your printer to perform as a copier and scanner as well? Then you need to see what functions your printer is capable of. If you want a stand-alone printer, there are plenty to choose from. There are also a number of “all-in-one” printers. Just make sure you know the exact functions of the all-in-one printer you are purchasing. Some all-in-one printers do not have fax capabilities. If this is a feature you may want, be sure you are buying a printer that will meet all of your needs.
The input capacity of a printer is important. If you are going to be printing large documents and you purchase a printer that does not have a media tray and only has a 10-sheet media feed slot, you are going to be standing beside your printer all day. Make sure you purchase a printer that can keep up with your printing demands. For example, consumers who print large documents would be better off with a printer featuring a 150-sheet input tray and a 10-sheet priority feed slot.
The term “media type” refers to the type of media a printer can print on. For example, CD/DVD printers can print on CDs and DVDs that are inkjet printable. Many inkjet printers and laser printers can print on envelopes, labels, card stock and transparencies in addition to regular paper. Make sure you purchase a printer that can handle the type of media you will be printing on.
Not everyone prints on 8.5” x 11” paper all day. Some people need to print on legal size paper as well as postcards and envelopes. Make sure you purchase a printer that supports the media sizes you will be printing on.
When purchasing a printer, some specifications will be more important to you than others. The specifications that are most important to you will depend on how you intend to use your printer. Knowing which specs will address your specific needs means knowing what type of printer will best serve you. This will be addressed in the section, “Which is the Best Printer for Me?”