Choosing a new printer for your home


Some say we are moving towards a paperless world, but if that is the case, it seems most of the planet has missed the memo. Whether it’s a map to your destination, a school essay or an angry letter to the local council, the home printer has as much to do as ever, and is an essential part of our home office.

In fact, it is not till it is either broken or has run out of ink that you fully realise just how much you rely on it. When it comes to replacing a broken printer, it is definitely a buyer’s market. Competition is strong between the major players like HP, Canon and Epson. With prices lower than ever and a baffling array of choice, it can be hard to know where to start looking. Here are some pointers.

Check for hidden costs

There is an old marketing saying that goes “give away the razor, sell the blades.” Anyone who has had to buy printer cartridges recently will immediately understand the relevance. A printer might be super-cheap, but use cartridges that cost almost as much again. Do your homework and check price and availability of replacement cartridges. Also, look beyond the high street. Many online sellers provide HP printer inks at a discounted price that can make a particular printer suddenly become far more cost effective.


On the subject of hidden costs, you would be surprised at how much you can end up spending on paper over the course of a year. Of course, the more you use, the worse your carbon footprint, too. Many printers provide automatic duplexing, where they print on both sides of the sheet. If you get through a lot of paper, this is a function well worth looking out for, as it will effectively halve your consumption.


In the old days, it was simply a case of plugging everything in and connecting the printer to the back of your PC. Of course, these days, while we have not gone paperless, we have certainly gone wireless. Some printers are struggling to keep up, so look carefully at the networking capability when choosing a new one. A standard WiFi connection should be the minimum requirement, and you might also want the facility to print directly from your smartphone, or even from cloud-based services like Dropbox and Google Drive.


Last, we come to the thing that many people mistakenly put first. In the absence of knowing what else to do, there is a tendency to compare the speed, resolution and so on and go for the best looking numbers as the deciding factor. But here’s the thing – nobody is selling clunky old printers that are terribly slow and have poor resolution any more. By all means check the spec, but 300 dpi is absolutely fine for printed documents, and 1000 dpi is all you need for pictures. As for speed, it depends how much you plan to print, but most are capable of around 13 pages per minute, which should be more than acceptable.


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