5 things to keep in mind when buying a new printer

HP LaserJet 1012
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There is no fixed season for new printer purchasing. Printer manufacturers don’t have any particular time of year set aside to introduce their new models. Some manufacturers introduce a new printer once a year, others bring out several new models a year. The decision to buy a new printer is going to be based on your needs and the condition of your current printer. From what we’ve seen, the average life expectancy of a new inkjet printer is about 2 years. Since inkjet printers are not made to be repaired, if your inkjet printer breaks you really have no alternative but to replace it (and recycle your broken printer). Laserjet printers are designed with repair in mind and replacement parts are usually available. But these days the cost of parts and labor can exceed the value of the printer. In those cases replacing the printer may be a better decision financially than repairing your broken machine. We would generally advise a customer to reuse their old machine, but with an appreciation of financial reality, we understand that doesn’t always make the best fiscal sense. Still, we encourage anyone replacing their current printer to find a way to recycle it rather than throwing it in the trash.

So you’ve decided it’s time to but a new printer. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you commit to a specific model or brand.

1. What type of printing will the new printer be doing as its primary task?

This is the most important question of any you need to consider before deciding which printer to buy.

Will you be printing photographs or color copies? Then unless you are willing to spend a few hundred dollars for a color laser printer you’ll be looking for an inkjet printer. Inkjets produce the best color prints for a reasonable price per page. If you only intend to print out documents and forms and have no need for color printing, then you should consider the various models of personal laserjet printers being marketed today. These are smaller than the typical office laserjet and while the single cartridge may set you back $40 or more, that cartridge will produce, on average, ten times more pages than an inkjet cartridge, so your cost-per-page is a tenth of that printing with ink.

2. How often will you be printing?

If you print something at least every couple of weeks then either an inkjet or laserjet will be useful to you. However, if you’re only going to use your printer for a few weeks every year you’d be better off considering only a laserjet. Laser printers use powdered toner which isn’t subject to drying or evaporating. You can leave a laser printer alone for 3 months, come back and run a perfect print. That isn’t going to happen with the majority of inkjet printers. Laserjet printers are subject to humidity, though. The toner in a laser cartridge kept in a humid atmosphere will clump up and be unavailable for printing. This can be remedied by gently shaking or rocking the cartridge back and forth to break up the toner clumps. At worst clumped up toner is a waste; toner clumps cannot damage your printer. Ink cartridges left too long without being used will most likely form hard blocks of dried ink on the printhead. This can sometimes be cleared up but most often requires replacing the cartridge.

3. Is printing vitally important to you or something you only do once in a while?

The more important printing is to you, the more attention you should pay to all the capabilities of your next printer. If you do a great deal of printing, you want to minimize costs as much as possible while ensuring the highest quality of output available. You’ll want to purchase your printer from a retailer who offers a solid warranty and good service-after-the-sale. If printing is a casual practice and you don’t need all the bells-and-whistles of a high-end printer, watch for sales at the big box electronics retail stores and even scout out your local thrift stores. Older printers and discontinued models may meet your needs and save you quite a bit of money.

4. Where will your printer be located and how many computers will be using the printer?

One of the capabilities being built-in to newer printers, both ink and laser, is wireless connectivity. Previously, if you wanted to connect your printer to a wireless network, you had to purchase a separate print server, a nasty piece of hardware that usually proved difficult to configure and nearly impossible to use without problems. I used to work for D-Link on the help desk, and I’d say the most difficult calls we had to handle dealt with print servers. No one is happier to see the end of these devices. Printers with built-in wireless capabilities are simple to set up and deploy. It’s not much harder than adding another computer to your network. A wireless-capable networked printer is available to any computer within range of the router. You could have your printer in one office and send print jobs to it from any other office in your business or any room in your house.

Another alternative is a wired network printer. Many newer laser printers have an ethernet card built-in to the chassis and can be added to your network by simply connecting a standard RJ-45 ethernet cable from the router to the printer. This means that the printer will need to be located within cable length of the router, usually 6-15′.

One advantage to a wired printer is security. If for any reason you are sending print jobs to the printer that should be kept secure from possibly being intercepted by an unauthorized 3rd party, you’ll want to have a wired connection to the router for both your computer and printer. Any data sent wirelessly to a router or printer can be compromised by being intercepted en route. For the average user this isn’t much of a concern. But if you deal with sensitive data or any information that shouldn’t be exposed to the risk of interception, it’s something to keep in mind.

5. What is going to be the cost of consumables?

The initial cost of the printer is not the only expense you’ll be incurring over the lifetime of your printer. You need to factor in the cost of consumables, primarily ink/toner and paper, as well. With each new generation of printer the manufacturers are shrinking the volume of ink and toner in their cartridges. This makes sense when you consider they make little or no profit off the sales of the printer but instead have chosen to make most of their profit from the sales of cartridges. To increase profits they need to make you buy cartridges more frequently. This is most easily accomplished by reducing the amount of ink and toner in the cartridges so you’ll have to replace them more often. It’s true they have also reduced the price of many of their newest cartridges, but the price reduction doesn’t always reflect the amount of toner or ink in the cartridge. Your new cartridge may cost $2 less than the ones you used to buy, but you’re often only getting half the ink that was in those older cartridges.

While we can’t help you reduce the cost of the paper you buy for your printer, we can help you control the cost of ink and/or laser cartridges. On average remanufactured cartridges from CW San Diego cost from 30-45% less than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of original cartridges. Our cartridges are filled with quality ink and toner manufactured for your specific printer, and all of our products are guaranteed for the life of the cartridge. We offer you a no-risk way to reduce the cost of ink and toner cartridges.

We encourage our customers to call us before and even while they shop for a new printer. We can let you know our prices for the cartridges required for your new printer, allowing you to make an informed decision about which printer best meets your needs.

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