Every month it seems printer manufacturers are pushing new models with additional features (and smaller ink supplies) onto the shelves of local office supply and big-box retail stores. Every week we get calls from our customers asking for suggestions as to which printer to buy; which printer has the cheapest cartridges, which one most easily connects to a home or small business wireless network, which printer best meets their printing needs.
Our basic advice has always been to get the printer that does what you need a printer to do and avoid buying one that offers additional functions that you have no use for. For example, if you don’t plan on adding this printer to a SOHO wireless network, save money and don’t buy one with wireless capabilities.
MacWorld recently published an article with their suggestions for printer buyers.
If you’re about to go shopping for a printer, whether in person or online, keep the following tips in mind.
- Set your budget
- Decide on must-have features
- Know your ink and toner costs
They break down printer price-points:
What to expect for your money
- $40 to $80: Curb your expectations.
- $80 to $100: Basic functionality.
- $150: Adequate or better.
- $250: Midrange inkjets and monochrome lasers.
- $400: The best inkjets and bare-bones color lasers.
- $500: Basic color lasers and better monochrome lasers.
- $700 to $800: The sweet spot for lasers.
- $1000 or more: First class all the way.
They end up with advice with which we absolutely agree.
Ink and toner costs
The money you pay for any printer doesn’t stop with the hardware purchase; you also have to consider the ongoing costs for replacing the ink or toner supplies. For many inkjet printers, in particular, the cost of replacement cartridges can quickly outstrip the initial cost of the printer. Don’t be tempted by a printer’s features without also checking on its cost of consumables.
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