Selecting and buying a new desktop printer can be a frustrating task. There are many manufacturers, each offering number of models. You can buy a printer for under $60, or spend several hundred on a model that looks almost identical. So how do you know which to get?
There is no point buying a high end photo printer or a colour laser, if all you print is couple of black and white pages per week. A cheap inkjet printer will do similar job.

If you print a lot, you should get a printer that can be easily refilled, fitted with a continuous ink system (CIS) or one that you can buy reasonably priced ink or toner cartridges for. If you plan to use new ink cartridges, check how much they cost and how many pages they should print. Find out if there are high yield cartridges or compatible refill option.

Work out what features you need. Most printers come packed with gadgets many people don’t need or ever use, but different makes and models do have unique features. If you need to print double sided or onto CD’s, or prefer wireless connectivity etc, you need to pick a printer that can do that. Not all models can.

Don’t stress too much about print resolution or drop size. It makes hardly any difference to print quality. Resolution of say 5760 DPI (dots per inch) or 9600 DPI. Similarly, 2pl (picolitre) ink drops don’t look any different on paper to 1pl drops without magnification.

Can the cartridges be refilled or can you buy “refillable” cartridges? There are printers that refuse to accept refilled cartridges, other models are difficult to refill successfully. Majority of today’s printer cartridges and tanks use IC chips to measure the ink levels, which can cause problems with refilling. Do your research!  Are refillable cartridges available? Will you need a chip resetter? Can the ink monitor be disabled?

Are individual ink cartridges printers any cheaper to operate? Varies from model to model. Individual ink cartridges printers can consume more ink for cleaning and purging the printheads. Both types have their pros and cons. Combined (3in1) ink cartridges generally cost more than individual ink cartridges, but you get a new printhead every time a cartridge is replaced. In individual cartridges printers, the printhead is part of the machine and should last for years. But if you do have a printhead problem in an individual tank printer,  it can cost more to fix, than the printer is worth.

Some printers have two black ink cartridges…why? Canon and HP use two black ink cartridges with different ink in some printer models. One cartridges is usually pigment ink, the other dye ink. Pigment ink works better on plain (copy) paper, dye ink on glossy (photo) paper. The printer software selects the correct ink automatically…     

Laser or inkjet Printer?  What you print determines the print technology that’s best for you. Both laser and ink printers have good and bad points. Laser cartridges cost more than ink, but usually last longer and print is more permanent. The biggest drawback of lasers is that toner is quite expensive, even for “cheap” colour lasers. Laser printers are generally faster than inkjet.

Laser toner never dries up or clogs, even if you hardly use the printer.
Inkjet ink dries up and clog, unless used regularly.

Don’t bother buying second hand even if very cheap, unless you have a good reason. Replacement OEM ink or toner cartridges often cost as much as a whole new printer with starter cartridges, so used printers aren’t good value.

Having trouble deciding which printer to buy to fit your needs? Send us an email! Singink@gmail.com

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