Category: Printers

Buying a New Printer

Buying a New Printer

These days, printers are not made to last a long time. It is generally more expensive to have one repaired than it is to get a new one. Our favorite brands are Brother and HP.

There are two basic ways that printers print. Ink Jet and Laser. Ink Jet is always color. Laser may be black and white only, or Color. For most home users, Ink Jet is fine. If you are producing brochures or something, or are doing a large volume of printing, you will want a laser printer.

In terms of features, all printers will print of course. Other features include making copies, scanning, and faxing. A printer that does all of that is called an All-In-One (AIO). Some manufacturers call these multifunction printers instead of All-In-One’s, but it means the same thing. If you just need to print and only print, a plain printer is fine. If you ever have the need to make a few copies, scan something, or send or receive a fax, then a multifunction printer is a great idea. It does all of those things and doesn’t take up too much space.

The other thing to look for is how a printer connects to your computer(s). You can hook a printer up to a computer using a USB cable or you can connect your printer to your network (either with a wire or using wireless). If you have one computer and no other devices (iPads, iPhones, etc) that you want to print from, using USB is fine. But if you have more than one computer or if you have any devices you want to be able to print from, then we recommend connecting your printer to your network. Setting up a printer this way is more complicated and you might need to have us do this for you.

Troubleshooting: Printer

Troubleshooting: Printer

This article contains some things you can do to try and fix your printer before you call us.

  • Print quality is poor
    • Can’t give you exact instructions here because each printer is different, but basically what you need to do is tell the printer to run a cleaning cycle. You may need to run several cleaning cycles. On the front of the printer there should be a button that says either menu, setup, or sometimes it’s a picture of a wrench. Use this button and the arrow keys and select key to find the cleaning cycle.
  • What I’m printing gets chopped off or spans multiple pages
    • To print in most programs, you click on File and then Print. You then get a window that allows you to change the printer you are printing to and also usually has some settings there. In that window you can usually switch between portrait and landscape. If what you are printing is too wide, try switching it to landscape and see if that helps. There is also usually a print options button next to the printer selection box that you can click on to check the settings.
  • A bunch of extra stuff gets printed when I print email
    • If you are printing email that you are accessing through a web browser, then do not use your web browser’s print button. Using your browser’s print button will print everything being displayed. But you only want to print the email itself. So, instead, use the print option in your email. Often times they hide the print function for some reason. On Outlook.com (which includes email addresses ending in outlook.com, hotmail.com, live,com, and msn.com) and also on Yahoo Mail, there is a button that is labeled “…” that you click on to find the print function. In Gmail there is a tiny printer icon at the top of the email being displayed.
  • Errors when trying to print
    • Make sure the printer is turned on and has paper.
    • Make sure there are no errors displayed on the printer. If there are, there may be an internal problem inside the printer. If the printer is broken on the inside of the printer, get a new printer. Nobody fixes the inside of printers because it’s cheaper to replace them.
    • If your printer is an inkjet printer, try removing and reinserting the ink cartridges.
    • Turn off your printer, wait 30 seconds and turn it back on.
    • Restart your computer.
    • If your printer is connected to your computer using a USB cable, unplug the USB cable from the back of the computer and from the back of the printer. Now plug it back into the printer and then plug it into a different USB port on the computer.
    • On the computer, click on Start and then click on “Devices and Printers”
      • Find your printer, right-click on it, and choose “See what’s printing”.
      • If there is anything waiting to print, they will be listed here. In the menu, click on Printer and then “Cancel all documents”.
      • Wait for all of the documents waiting to print to disappear from the queue.
      • Once they are all gone, try printing again.
      • If they don’t all go away, reboot and go back into the job queue to make sure they are gone and try printing again if they are.
    • If none of the above fixed the problem, call us.
Printing a Web Page

Printing a Web Page

Have you ever tried to print a page off of a web site only to get something other than what you expected? It’s difficult to explain why that happens without boring you with a lot of techo mumbo-jumbo. Suffice it to say, the code behind the web page you are looking at is complicated. Printing something that complicated is difficult. Plus, when you add in all of the banner advertisements, menus, and other junk around the actual content of the web page, the resulting printout may not be very useful.

But there are things you can do to make this better. Instead of printing, do a print preview first. To do that in Internet Explorer, instead of clicking on the printer icon, click on the little down arrow next to it and choose “Print Preview” from the pop-up menu. It will show you what the printout should look like when it prints. You can change the orientation of the printout from portrait to landscape here. You can also tell it to shrink to fit, which is helpful for printing web pages. Once you see how it’s going to print, you can print it right from the print preview window by clicking the printer icon.

Web designers often build special printing abilities into certain parts of their websites. For example, if  you read your e-mail on a website, don’t click the print button in internet explorer. Instead, look for a print link or icon on the web page. It will take your e-mail and format in a way that makes it print nicely, without any advertisements and such. It will usually be an a seperate pop-up window. You may have to hit the print button in that window once it comes up.

If you purchase something at an online store, they often provide a special link for printing your receipt. This is just like the e-mail printing I just mentioned. It’s specially formatted for printing. Look for these special links and icons on websites when you want to print. If you don’t’ find it, use print preview to make sure.

The Real Cost of Printers

The Real Cost of Printers

The Real Cost of Printers

 

When shopping for printers, the printer that cost the least to purchase is not necessarily the cheapest printer to own and operate. In fact, the cheaper printers usually cost more over the long haul to operate. So in addition to the initial cost of the printer, you should also consider the cost per page.

 
Cost per page is a calculation of how much it costs, per page, to use a printer. It takes into consideration the cost of the ink for that particular printer. The cost per page for a printer is different for black and white printouts versus color printouts. So for a color printer, you will usually find a cost for each.
 
Here’s an example. The HP OfficeJet J5780 sells for around $150 while the HP OfficeJet K5400dtn sells for around $200. The J5780 is cheaper to purchase, but let’s take a look at the cost per page and figure out how much it really costs to operate this printer. The J5780 has a cost per page of 4 cents for black and white and 10.7 cents for color while the K5400dtn has a cost per page of 1.5 cents for black and white and 6 cents for color.
 
So if you owned the printer for several years and printed 1000 black and white pages and 2000 color pages, you would spend about $255 in ink for the J5780 versus $135 for ink for the K5400dtn. That’s a difference of $120. So even though the K5400dtn costs $50 more, in the long haul, you would have saved $70.
 
Notice that both of the printers in this example are HP. That means you can’t assume that all printers made by a certain manufacturer have a lower or higher cost per page than another manufacturer. So be sure to look at the specs for each specific printer model.
 
There is another factor that is important to consider. You know that a printer will start alerting you when the ink starts getting low. You probably also know that you shouldn’t change the ink cartridge just because the printer says it’s low. You should wait until one of two things happen before you change the ink cartridge.
 
1. If you see a degradation in print quality.
2. The printer refuses to print until you replace the cartridge.
 
Number 1 is obvious, but number 2 is the one I want to touch on. Tests show that some printers will tell you the cartridge is empty and refuse to print, even though there is a substantial amount of ink still left in the cartridge. In some cases, the cartridge is nearly half full (or half empty if you are a pesimist)! That’s a lot of wasted ink!
 
It’s also important to point out that it also depends on if you are using an ink cartridge from the manufacturer, or a 3rd party cartridge. Tests show that 3rd party cartridges report being out of ink before the cartridges from the printer manufacturer.
 
The worst offender was Kodak printers which wasted 43% of the ink.
Next was Canon which wasted anywhere from 24% to 42% depending on if you use a Canon ink cartridge or a 3rd party cartridge.
Next was Epson which wasted anywhere from 8% for Epson cartridges to 41% for 3rd party cartridges.
 
The one anomoly to this is HP. Unlike Canon, Epson, and Kodak, HP printers never refuse to print based on the amount of ink it thinks you have in your cartridge. So with HP printers, just keep an eye on the print quality and when it starts to degrade, replace the cartridge.
 
One other important point to consider. Some color printers have one color cartridge that contains several colors while others have seperate cartridges for each color. The disadvantage to the single color cartridge is that if one color inside the cartridge runs dry, you have to replace the cartridge, thus wasting what was left of the other colors. When you have seperate cartridges for each color, there is less ink waste.
Do you need a new printer?

Do you need a new printer?

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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