Do you need a new printer?

October 11, 2007
Printing problems can often be attributed to a configuration problem in Windows, a driver conflict, a bad cable, or a bad or incorrectly replaced ink cartridge. These types of problems can be fixed. If the lights on your printer are on and look normal, but nothing prints, chances are we can fix that problem for you.
If the printer tries to print, but the quality is bad or there are colors missing, then run your printer’s cleaning cycle first. If that doesn’t help, replace the ink cartridges.
If the printer lights are not on, or there are red flashing lights or if you tried replacing the cartridges and it still does not print, then chances are something is broken on the inside of the printer. These days, it is cheaper to replace a printer than it is to fix it.
If you need a new printer, here are some things to think about when buying a new printer.
There are two basic types of printer technologies. Inkjet and Laser. Inkjet’s print color. Lasers come in monochrome (black and white) or color. Inkjet printers are cheaper, but they are slower, the print quality is not as good as laser printers, and they are more noisy. Laser printers are more expensive but have a higher quality of print, they are faster, and they are more quiet.
For your average home user, an inkjet is fine. Small businesses may want one laser printer for certain types of printing jobs, but may also want to have several inkjet printers for other jobs. Big businesses will probably mainly need laser printers.
Once you decide on the printing technology that is right for you, you must decide on what features you need. Printers are generally either basic printers, or multi-function printers. A basic printer just prints. A multi-function printer will print, but may also scan, fax, and copy as well. If you need to scan, fax, or copy (on a limited basis) and have limited space, then a multi-function printer may be right for you.
Other features to look for are how fast a printer prints. This is usually expressed in pages per minute (PPM). Also look for how much paper the printer will hold so you know how often you are going to have to be loading more paper into it. For laser printers, a feature to look for is duplexing. If a printer can duplex, this means it can print on both sides of the page without user intervention.
Something else to look at is the cost of ownership. Here’s how to figure out the cost of ownership. First, figure out about how many pages of black and white you print a month and how many pages of color you print a month. Now multiply that by 36 to get the number of black and white, and the number of color pages you print in 3 years. Now find out how many pages a black cartridge will print for each of the printers you are considering. Do the same for color. You can then figure out how many ink cartridges you will need. Multiply that by the cost of the ink cartridges. Add that to how much you paid for the printer and you’ll get the total cost of ownership. You can then compare printers that way. Note that one particular brand is not consistently the highest or lowest cost of ownership. You must check it for each model.
Another feature to be concerned with is compatibility. If you have a network with different versions of Windows, then make sure the printer you are purchasing provides drivers for all of the different types of windows other operating systems (Mac, Linux, etc.).
In our experience, HP printers seem to be the most compatible and have the least problems with different types of computers printing to them over the network.
Speaking of printing over the network, did you know that you can have a printer installed on one computer on your network, and print to that computer from any other computer on the network? You can. Doing this cuts down on the number of printers you have to have. It saves space and saves you money.

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