Do you really need a web-enabled printer? Jan 28, 2011 17:23 by Chris Rails
When you're buying a printer and some cheap ink cartridges, you know exactly what you want from them.
But the lines between traditional printers and other devices such as PCs and tablets have become quite blurred in the last few years.
After all, modern printers now offer a range of functions beyond what could ever have been envisaged even a decade ago.
Manufacturers are now tempting consumers with features such as menus that can be tailored to the individual user and a wide variety of applications for both work and play.
And on top of that, many of the latest devices provide wireless connectivity and access to the internet.
As a result, you can email your documents and images to the printer directly from your smartphone, which means your PC can now be completely bypassed.
But it's fair to say that some may question whether they really need an all-singing and all-dancing printer in their office, particularly in a workplace.
How useful are gaming apps and wireless connectivity really going to be when you're just planning to run off a few word documents each day?
Not very – so plenty of businesses are likely to write off these modern innovations as a gimmick.
Indeed, some don't even feel the need to have a colour printer and the appropriate ink cartridges in their office, since they're only planning to print off some black and white documents and not hugely detailed photographs or posters.
This doesn't necessarily mean these office owners are luddites who aren't able to move with the times.
Instead, it shows that some at least are simply being practical and ensuring that they are living within their means – which is undeniably vital as they try to make ends meet in these tough economic conditions.
But let's hope they are not being deliberately closed-minded though, as printer manufacturers wouldn't be rolling out these features unless they thought there was real demand for them.
Many are keen to stress how in touch they are with the needs of their consumer base and how they respond to feedback with each new product they release.
Web-enabled printers are becoming more and more common, so much so that connectivity to the internet may soon become the industry standard.
But when this happens, they are sure to be much cheaper than they are at the moment, and shouldn't make a struggling small business owner wince when they check the price tag.
So if you are looking for a new printer but still having to count the pennies, just ask yourself exactly what you need it to do for you and buy accordingly.