Thinking Of Buying A New Printer?
What Printers Should I Look At?
Want to skip my inane ramblings? Click here to get to the details that matter:
Working in Printer Consumable retailing, you would think that the majority of questions we receive would loosely revolve around “Which Ink should I use?”, or “What cartridges will give me the best printing results?” If you find yourself agreeing with that statement, then come and keep me company in the I-was-wrong-corner. That’s right. The number one topic of conversation we find is “What printer do you recommend?” Whether they’re buying a new one themselves, or searching for a business contact, or just one of those people that really – REALLY – wants to be up to date with the top technology information, we get asked non-stop.
Whilst the temptation here at Stinkyink would be to fulfil our capitalist desires, recommend the printers which provide us with the highest margins and be done with it, amassing an untouchable army of customers utilising Printer-X to their own cost along the way (mwahaha), this is not how we do business. In fact, quite the opposite. We believe that our experience in the cartridges field, coupled with the fact we are not involved in the retailing of printers, leaves us in a prominent unbiased position for recommendations. We know printers that work, we know reliability issues, and by-george we know printer ink!
Whilst the following is not intended to denigrate or damage any manufacturer’s reputation, it is our honest opinion which will hopefully lead you in your printer browsing task.
So, capitalist army-building aside, the actual question – What printer do we recommend? I wish I could put a single printer here, an all encompassing beast of a machine that excelled in anything you ever needed, and even did your Monday morning emails for you. But alas, my dreams are yet to reach fruition. The ideal printer for you is going to depend on a range of factors, which we will discuss and find out for you.
Firstly – what will you be using the printer for?
Now, stop your laughing at me for one moment, I know 99% of you read that and thought “Well, for Printing, idiot”, and I accept your mocking tones and counter with:
• Purely for home use – letters, kids homework, neighbourhood watch pamphlets
• Quality printing, whether it is photos or image intense documents
• Small office use – mainly business documents on a reasonable scale
• Larger business use – high speed documents
Aha! Not as simple as you thought is it. Whilst you decide which of these areas you fit into, I will cheerily carry on with this article, thinking of my next way to stump you.
I’m a home printer:
Now that you’ve got that truth out in the open, and can move on with your life as a computer hardware (I’m a funny man), this category of printer means you need to focus on ease of use and cost. You don’t want to be spending £’s each time your child prints a new spell-checked version of their homework, or you try out the new letterhead for your family Christmas letter X number of times. I shall start with the short and sweet part of this section:
AVOID – Old Hp and Lexmark printers, and Dell altogether
Now just imagine me shouting that at you, possibly accompanied by violent shaking, and you should get the sincerity of the warning. Just don’t buy them. These manufacturers use an ink cartridge with a built in head, with all 3 different colours placed within this single cartridge. When one colour runs out, the cartridge is finished. Finish all your magenta printing, as who doesn’t love red everywhere, and wave goodbye to any cyan and yellow you had stored away for a rainy day. This obviously means much higher printer costs than a system where the print head is built into the printer, with separate ink tanks for each colour so you just top up where needed. This system is utilised by Epson, Canon and Brother, making them immediately better value for you, and our recommended starting point for home printing.
Next you must consider what you want your printer to be able to do. Did you manage to stifle your “print things” laugh this time? I hope so. With multi-function printers offering a range of extras nowadays, such as scanning/copying/wireless networking, you really get a diverse choice. Stinkyink does recommend spending the few extra pounds and getting one of the multi-function devices. In the long haul, the multi purposes it provides will tailor for any home needs you may encounter, and with all manufacturers providing them, their costs are competitive already.
Another advantage of these printers is a saving on following printing costs. With original cartridges approaching the actual cost of the printer, many can be tricked into an apparent bargain, then double their printing outlay as soon as the first cartridge runs dry. Home use printers opens up the avenue of compatible/refilled cartridges. With the only difference in quality being noticeable towards high end photo printing, they will be perfectly adequate for all home printer needs, and are significantly cheaper than manufacturer’s original cartridges.
So what do we know? We are looking for a multi-function printer, made by Epson, Canon or Brother. Normally we would go into the hows and whys of using the printer, but the range of models for these manufacturers have really fine tuned the user experience, and we feel they all draw level on the usability test. So all 3 manufacturers carry on to the next stage, hooray. Multi function printers for these 3 providers is a great way to filter your browsing time, and anything after this is really more down to personal preference than a definitive answer. If you want more detailed reviews to further aid you in your choice then please browse our review site where we get into the dirty nether-regions of the printers for you: www.printer-review.co.uk
For our overall recommendation, we would go for Canon each time. . They are reliable, cheap to run, and quality output! If you just want a printer that prints, go for the Canon ip4700. Want a multi-function? The Canon mp640.
Now that you’ve had my Home printing two-cents, I am going to break open the piggy bank in a splurge of valuable information for High Quality Photo printing.
Quality Image Printing:
Many people don’t realise, but there are two types of imaging printers to choose from, outlined in the following to make you knowledgeable on all things image based.
The first to cast your mind’s eye over is a process called dye sublimation. Ignoring the scientific jargon, it transfers dye onto your paper/card/fabric with heat one colour at a time. If you’re really wondering, and want to show off, it’s called sublimation as the dye goes from solid, to a gas state, to solid in the printing sequence, without ever being a liquid. Fancy. This printing method produces very high quality photo prints, typically equivalent or actually better than that produced by the traditional printing method employed in photo processing shops – the silver halide process.
In addition due to the sublimation method, there is very little mess, and the photos are instantly dry and ready to handle as soon as printing is finished. Also, due to the design of the printers, fewer moving parts than other styles of printers limit the potential for break down, maximising the longevity of the printers. However, this method is limited by sizes that you can print in, typically only found in the 6×4 print sizes, and can be expensive with the method utilising numerous panels for each colour. Couple this with a fact these panels cannot be reused, no matter how small an amount of ink was used of that colour, and your costs can quickly accumulate. Ultimately though, if you are looking for a pure photo printing experience, you can’t go wrong with this printing method, and we recommend Canon as the manufacturer to side with.
If photo printing isn’t the only quality image you’re after, then dye sublimation may not be for you. With the transfer from a gas state to a solid, a small amount of diffusion (funny, and a scientist!) is unavoidable. Whilst this is not an issue with photos as it produces a very natural finish, when applied to sectors which require pinpoint accuracy, such as an architect’s graphical outputs, this discrepancy is a weakness. Additionally, this technique of printing only works on special-coated paper, meaning an unavoidable inflexibility in what you print. This leads me on nicely to the alternative method of image printing, Inkjet printers.
In the past, this method was so inferior to dye sublimation that it would not have been considered, especially in the realms of photo printing. This was due to dye sublimation utilising “continuous-tone technology” where, in layman’s terms, any dot in the photo can be any colour. This is contrary to inkjet printing which, as the name suggests, jets ink onto the page in droplets in scattered layers to create the image you are printing. Whilst this creates a smooth looking photo, focusing in on the photo would reveal visible droplets and not one smooth progression of the image. However, large advances in the technology of inkjet printers have seen the implementation of microscopic droplets, and a more diverse range of injected ink colours, providing a far superior picture than previously seen. Coupled with its accurate printing for the aforementioned architects drawing, its ability to use numerous materials to print onto, and the flexibility of image size, the new range of inkjet printers provide a much better overall package for your diverse printing needs.
Need more information? View our photo printing section over at www.printer-review.co.uk
If you trust us implicitly, and need no more information than the gold mine you have just treated your eyes to, then our best choice would be the Epson Stylus Photo R2880. Hard working, reliable, quality output, even my manager has one!
From the beauty of image printing, with the limitless potential of stunning scenery from photography, our exploration of purchasing a printer leads us naturally onto…. small office printing. What better way to dismiss the notion of grandiose panoramic views, than to the black and white (I’m sure they need colour at some times) monotony of the small office environment.
Small Office Printing:
Those of you whom have read the whole article will be glad to know that the requirement of these printers is very similar to that of the home printers, with low costs and good performance top of the agenda. You will be less pleased to note that these points will be repeated for those who skipped straight to this section. I will make it as painless as possible.
Firstly, the important points:
Do not purchase a Dell Inkjet printer, or the old range of HP and Lexmark printers. Whilst being good printers, they will not be cost effective for you. Utilising an ink cartridge with a built in head and three onboard colours, once one colour runs out you need a new cartridge. Infuriating in an environment specialising in black and white, with the occasional flash of colour for a company emblem or staff photo. This used to limit you to Canon, Epson and Brother printers, but the new ranges from HP and Lexmark mean that you have a very wide choice. All of these take advantage of separate slots for each colour, meaning that once one runs low, you just replace the individual colour.
So this is where your choice gets more difficult. Let us start with the simple decisions. Try and side towards the multi-function printers, which can cater for all the needs your office environment will place upon it. For only a slight increase in price, the additional practicality of the printer will be invaluable. The availability of compatibles for this range of printers is also worthwhile to note, with no degradation in quality for your office printing needs and a huge saving on overall printing costs.
Now, which manufacturers to look at. HP and Lexmark have a healthy dominance of this area of printing, with HP edging ahead with their latest range of printers. Interestingly, they differ completely in the type of ink they use, meaning your preference can easily help you choose which to side with.
Lexmark printers utilise dye based inks, the traditional ink found in the majority of inkjet printers, whilst HP printers utilise a newer pigment based ink. First used by Epson, this pigment based ink is made up of miniscule, encapsulated particles which sit on top of the paper, opposed to dye inks which are absorbed into the papers fibres. “Why should I care?” I hear you ask? Well, for your office environment, whilst these differences which typically only impact longevity of the prints and the colour quality, they also have implications for your costs. Dye based inks are known to soak into the page, lowering the efficiency of the cartridge per page, whilst pigment based ink has no such problem. Furthermore, pigment based inks typically have larger cartridges meaning you get even more prints for your money.
Whilst this is occasionally reflected in price, we tend to recommend siding with the pigment based inks, with a higher value for money being experienced.
This soaking effect leads onto another advantage of pigment ink. As soon as the page is filtered out onto the tray, it is touch dry. With no risk of smudging or ink dispersion that you can get with dye based inks, pigments guarantee the cleanliness and professional appearance of documents you print within your office. The longevity of prints is also a variable worth considering. With the filing systems employed at most offices you want your printed records to be durable and long lasting. Whilst advances in dye based ink have shown an increase in the lifetime of prints, pigment based inks still have the advantage.
Finally, dye based inks are not waterproof! Now I realise most offices do not work in downpours or go swimming for meetings, but the advantage of a pigment based ink being used to print a letter, which gets posted and delivery on a rainy day and stays legible, cannot be frowned at.
Want to know more? Check our reviews of Small Office Printers here at www.printer-review.co.uk
Ultimately we suggest the HP Officejet Pro 8500. A solid reliable printer from the new range of HPs, with fantastic per-page costs, backed up by quality pigment based inks.
In our final section we will be looking at the heavy duty office printing, for business’s who scoff at any print speed lower than 15 pages per minute.
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Colour Laser Printers. Thank you for reading. I hope this section was helpful for you.
In all seriousness though, with the fall of colour laser printer prices for under £200, your choice is made for you. Small footprints, networkable, and outstanding results from the chemical toners now in use, all lend itself towards a fantastic business printer.
The benefits of these printers just roll off the tongue:
• Faster print speeds
• Lower cost per page
• More robust
And this is just the starting point. An excellent quality range of compatibles presently available for a wide number of these printers means you can further save on your printing costs. In fact, the only reason we would say don’t go for these printers is their apparent fussiness about the quality of paper being run through them. Ignoring the obvious “my printer is telling ME what I can print on?!?” issue, we found them to be temperamental when trying to print on the very cheapest 80gsm copies paper. However, upgrade to the 80gsm LaserJet paper which we use in all of our machines and the colour LaserJet’s return to their serene performing best, causing us no problems at all. If you can afford it, stretch to the multi-function range of these printers, adding even more benefit to the small space these printers now take up.
This section may be the shortest, but it’s because we believe your decision is such a formality. If you want more details then check our business printers section at www.printer-review.co.uk
If we had to pick one and save you the effort, we would side with the Oki range, brilliant printers. With a superb output, nice gloss finish, and very cheap running costs with our excellent quality compatible range, your business will try and find reasons to print. That may be stretching the truth, but you got the idea. Specifically, the Oki c5650, but they are all quality products.
Additional Resources For Customers Of StinkyInk
By popular request, I have added the following sections to provide information all you customers wanted in addition to my printer recommendations :-)
Differences Between Inkjet And Laser Printers
A few readers who got in touch did not want printer recommendations, but merely to see the base differences between inkjet and laser printers to be able to make their own decisions – which is great :-)
|Lower Initial Start Up Costs||Expensive Setup Costs (typically)|
|Higher Print Resolution||Lower Resolution but Very accurate|
|Higher Long Run Printing Costs||Much lower Long Run Printing Costs|
|Cartridge yields vary hugely||Typically very large cartridge yields|
|Typically Smaller Footprint||Quite bulky and unpleasing to the eye|
|No warm up time for Use||Delay to prepare for print request|
|Print Speeds Vary but not as fast as same price Lasers||Typically Very Fast Printing|
|Ink usually needs to be left to soak into page||Touch Dry when printed|
|Lower Total Potential Prints||Higher Total Output Before Replacing|
I hope this helps in your decision, remember typically inkjet printers are the mainstay for home and image printing, with lasers being the turn-to option for all things office and mass-printing related
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We hope this article has been useful for you, and that you all stop asking us what printer to buy….
Disclaimer: We love your comments and questions, please keep them coming
…. Please don’t hesitate to add comments at www.printer-review.co.uk on our printers when you have purchased your own, we encourage everyone’s input and hope to create a hive of knowledge to further aid people in their browsing. After this distillation of our collective wisdom, I might go buy myself a new printer now, happy shopping.