<p>Intense competition among companies like HP, Epson, Canon and Samsung , among others, has driven retail prices of printers to such absurd lows that you can now walk into a store and walk out with a brand new printer for as low as Rs 3,000. But, that’s not where the investment ends. Costs of cartridge, printer maintenance and hardware repairs, media (paper, etc) should also be calculated before you choose a printer.
We list what you need to keep in mind before getting a printer home.
Choosing the right printer
Think back over what you’ve printed lately and what you plan to print in future. Do you print mostly black and white text copies or colour photos or colour proposal drafts for your home business? What kind of printing you do is the biggest factor in what kind of printer you should shop for.
The type of printer will vary, depending on this very answer. It is easy to get bogged down by the sheer number of inkjet, laser, photo and all-in-one printer models that are in the market.
||Squirts thousands of tiny ink dots on to the page and is a popular choice for the home PC user as it gives high-quality printing
||Can print just about any type of text (essays, charts or photos)
||Prints don’t always look as sharp as those done on a laser printer, lower speeds and higher cost per page
||Works using static electricity, which attracts and holds the toner to the page
||Offers faster, smudge-free printing, ideal for high-volume printing
||Inferior photo printing,
usually bulky units
||An inkjet printer that can be connected directly to a digital camera for instant prints
||Lacks flexibility, but quality of pictures is by far superior
||Photo quality paper and inks are costly
||Both laser and inkjet printers often come integrated with a scanner bed, turning them into all-in-one machines that print, copy, scan and fax
||Viable option for power users who need copy, fax and scan options. Wi-Fi connectivity, web-enabled with apps that print documents directly from the web or smartphones
Paper and ink will make up most of your running costs, but there are occasions when you might have to fork out for additional parts. For instance, a replacement printhead for a printer could set you back by Rs 2000 or more depending on the brand. On an average, a new printhead lasts up to three years. But not all printers have a printhead, some have them on the cartridges, and so every time you buy a new cartridge you get a new printhead.
While shopping for inkjet printers, make sure to enquire about its cartridge system: Whether each colour can be replaced individually, and whether the black cartridges is affordable enough for regular printing. If you’re comfortable voiding the warranty with aftermarket cartridges and ink refills, then you can also check the prices of the same. But it is not recommended if you have limited know-how about the printer hardware.
If you have a laser printer, the drum will have a limited life expectancy of around 20,000 pages – and will cost you over Rs 4,500 to replace it. Though it’s not good for the environment, it’s often worth buying a new printer when your old one needs a replacement part.
Printers for home printing
The family printer needs to be able to cope with printing school projects, documents for work, Christmas cards, photos from the digital camera, and so on. For this, you need a versatile printer that can do just about anything, even if a little slowly.
||What to expect
||Best buy price
|Canon Pixma E500
||Colour inkjet printer, copier and scanner that comes with two cartridges – black and tri-colour. Can be adjusted to either use one of the cartridge for printing or both
Cost of black cartridge is about Rs 650 and coloured costs little over Rs 800
||A colour inkjet printer for home users whose printing needs are limited to text documents. While it can print a 4x6 inch photo with border pretty quickly, the quality is rather average
Cost of black cartridge is about Rs 374
|HP Photosmart 7510 e
|Aimed at home consumer and professionals who want all-round capabilities of an inkjet and a machine they can print both text and photos
||Rs 8,000 (approx)