Tip: How to choose a printer to buy for home use

I work in the IT Industry and I have been asked by many friends how to select a printer to buy for their home computers. There are many things to be considered and making the wrong choice can really cost you in the long run. I am providing a simple guide for you that goes over all the aspects that need to be considered in this process.

1. Type of printer: inkjet versus laser. I will almost always recommend getting a laser black and white printer. This is sufficient for most home users. Laser Toner cartridges do cost more but last a lot longer. Printer companies do not make money on the printers themselves. They make all the profit off of the ink. Brands that I currently recommend are Brother and HP. They have consistent quality and ease of use.

2. Get a multifunction printer. I suggest getting a printer that will also scan, copy, and fax. The price is not that much higher and having the ability to do all of this at home not only saves time but money too. Why pay 10 cents (or more) per copy when you can do it cheaper and easier at home. Scanning is good for saving important documents and shredding the clutter. Fax is also handy for when you need to send documents to someone else.

3. Price out the ink first before you buy! Your major investment in any printer is not the unit itself. When comparing a couple of printers go online and see how much a toner/ink cartridge will cost to replace when it runs out. Also look at the life of the toner, say 1000 or 2000 pages and calculate your cost per page. Example: $50 toner that does 2000 pages (5% ink coverage) will cost you 2.5 cents per page (50 / 2000 = 0.025). This levels the playing field for the units you are considering.

4. Skip the color photo printers. They are not cheap enough yet and you are way better off using an online service that will print photos and mail them to you. They have huge multi-thousand dollar printers and can printer cheaper than you seeing as they print in bulk. It is nice to be able to print at home but at alomst 30 cents a photo you can do way better elsewhere.

5. If you must have color still go with laser. The initial investment in a color laser multifunction printer is singnificantly higher but cheaper in the long run. It will require a total of 4 toner cartridges so that is something to bear in mind. The cost can be 4 to 5 times that of a black and white laser printer. You can do the same comparison of toner cost by using the same simple calculation mentioned in step 3. If you must have color at home this is the way to go. Inkjet printers are still significantly more expensive for color printing too.

To recap almost everyone should be getting a laser printer these days. You save the most money in the long run and they also print faster, ink does not dry up if not used, and are a lot more reliable and less prone to breaking. I would expect a 3-5 year life on the printer itself. Possibly longer if you only print ocassionaly. If you want a recommedation on a specfic model please comment and I will send you my recommendations.