Categories of printer

Having determined, in our last blog, where you need to begin when searching for a printer, it’s now time we looked in more depth at the different categories of printer that are available.

By now you will hopefully have a general idea of the type of printer you'll need.   If you have your eye on the ball, (no not on the football World Cup), then you'll also have gleaned that there are many different printing technologies which suit different printing needs and budgets. Below we'll talk more about the basic types of printers and their pros and cons.

Laser Printers

Though the technology has been around for many years (the first laser jets were introduced in the early eighties), laser printers are still going strong because they combine sharp output and fast print speeds with a low cost per page.  Like copiers, laser printers attract electrically charged toner and transfer it to paper, using a photographic drum.  The image is then fused using a heated roller.

Many cheaper laser printers are monochrome (black and white), best suited for printing text and simple graphics, and they're budget-friendly, with prices starting from about £100. Until recently, colour laser printers were too costly for small businesses or individuals, but there are now models for around £150, and these offer viable alternatives to colour inkjets for printing spreadsheets, fliers and brochures.

By spending slightly more, you'll be offered multiple functions like built in scanners, fax machines and copying machines. Manufacturers like Cannon, Toshiba and Kyocera also offer networking, either wireless or wired Ethernet on multifunction lasers, making them a good choice for homes with multiple PCs and for users who don't need high-resolution photos.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjets have developed a lot in the last decade. Today's versatile inkjets can produce rich photo prints and crisp text. Many manufacturers offer both photo inkjet and general purpose printers that shouldn't be confused with snapshot or photo printers, which are designed for only 10 x 15cms prints or even smaller sizes.

Inkjets print images by applying controlled streams of tiny ink droplets from one or more cartridges to a variety of paper types. Manufacturers differ on the techniques they use to achieve this. Such variations include the size of the droplets used, the way they are applied to the paper and the software they use for colour mixing, which determines the image quality.

Although inkjets are becoming faster and closing the speed gap on the laser jets, the printing process is still relatively slow compared with laser printing, and the special papers and ink cartridges used can be expensive, so inkjets are best suited for home users and small businesses with light printing needs, or those who need to produce high-quality graphics and photos.

Inkjet printers can range in price from less than £100 to as much as £500, depending on the amount of features available, paper-handling capabilities and image quality.

Multifunction/All-in-one

Multifunction printers (MFPs) or all-in-ones (AIOs) are the crème de la crème of printers. They combine printer, copier, scanner, and, in some models, fax capabilities in one unit, making them a perfect companion for home offices and small businesses.

MFPs are available with either laser printing for speedy text and occasional graphics, or inkjet printing for vibrant, colourful photos. The best models available are those that include flatbed scanners, pictbridge compatible USB ports and memory card bays for quick access; auto document feeders for scanning, faxing, and copying of multipage documents; auto duplexers, to let you save money on double-sided prints.

MFPs start reasonably for basic level inkjets, but prices range depending on the feature set and printer technology.

Photo/Snapshot

Some inkjets use more than the four basic magenta, yellow, cyan and black inks to produce better quality photos, so if you print numerous photos, you may want to select a slightly more expensive, better-than-average inkjet, or go for a second printer aimed specifically for printing pictures.

Some photo printers use the previously mentioned inkjet technology, but most rely on dye sublimation, which transfers colour dye in a continuous tone from a ribbon onto the paper in a series of passes, followed by a protective clear coating.

The print quality of a photo printer is as good as traditional photo prints.  Another advantage is that they usually print directly from compatible digital cameras using pict bridge, enabling users to print directly from digital cameras. Many models also accept storage cards such as Compact Flash, SD, or Sony memory stick.

A few subclass photo printers, (or snapshot printers) are limited to 12X15cm sized prints or smaller, as they can't handle larger sheets, which is why such printers are suitable as second printers only.  

Portable

These mini printers are designed for travel. They weigh very little and can just about manage a standard sized sheet of paper. Portable printers use colour inkjet printing technology.

Print speeds and image quality of these machines aren't great, and the machines can be expensive, but if you really need a travelling companion such as this, (rather than the wife), they will do the job. They typically cost about £100 or more.

  • Paragon Comment

Remember, if you tailor your printing needs to suit your circumstances and budget, it will save you money in the long run.  We have an extensive range of printers from top notch manufactures, like Canon, Toshiba and Kyocera, from which you can make your selection.  Furthermore, we'll guide you every step of the way.  Our support staff (who have a collective 50 years industry experience), will be happy to discuss your requirements. 

Paragon not only offer unbeatable prices, but could also give you a variety of options too, like printer hire and printer leasing, which may be an alternative to costly purchasing.

For sales just give Paragon Document Solutions a call and speak with an experienced consultant, who will ensure the best solution for all your office photocopier leasing & printer hire requirements.

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