Even though laser devices are cheap, inkjets still thrive—here’s why
Year after year, it’s been speculated that the days of inkjet devices are numbered, but each year, that’s been proved wrong. Inkjets are still holding on and still in the race. This could be attributed partly to the considerably lower cost of investment and partly to the much lower cost of running. Also, they don’t demand much space. Home users prefer inkjet printers but are facing increasingly stiff competition from inkjet MFDs, which are becoming available at prices rivalling those of the printers.
What You Should Be Looking At
Printer speed is usually advertised by the manufacturer in bold letters. You should keep in mind that these mentioned speeds can never be achieved in real-life situations, and as the quality is increased, the speed drops dramatically. A typical mid-range inkjet printer can never exceed even 10 pages per minute at draft quality, even though it is usually advertised as 20. If you print a photograph, the time taken can range from a minute and a half to over 10 minutes depending on the printer.
Print resolution is another feature that is talked about a lot by the manufacturers. More important is the hardware print resolution, as this defines the hardware limits of how fine the printer can print. Interpolated (also sometimes called enhanced) resolution is a software resolution that tries to emulate a higher resolution than the printer’s hardware capability, though the results are never as impressive. This difference is something like that between the optical and digital zoom of a digital camera.
Media handling: Most printers can handle A4 size media, and if you require larger size media, check for that before buying. Also make sure that the printer is capable of handling heavy media—this is important especially in case of photo paper.
Interface: Many offices still have old computers with legacy interface such as parallel port. If your office happens to be such, make sure that your printer supports such an interface.
User interface: It is always better if the printer has an LCD to view different status messages. For a photo printer, a colour LCD should be preferred.
Number and type of cartridges: Printers aimed at normal printing, usually come with two cartridges—one for colour and other for black. But if you are into photo printing, then it is better to have separate cartridges for each colour. The latter case is economical too because you need to change only that cartridge which is spent, so it becomes less expensive. Certain photo printers support Photo cartridges that are specialised for printing photographs.
Analyse Your Usage
For a photographer: If you are a photographer, or if printing photographs is your primary need, the printer needs to be good at printing high resolution colour photographs. Some printers have up to six cartridges to produce vivid colour photo prints. Some have photo-paper cassettes to hold photo papers. There are some with connectivity options such as Bluetooth, WiFi, and PictBridge, while some have slots for memory cards or USB drives to print images stored on such devices. There are some which can even let you manipulate images prior to printing by previewing the effects on a colour LCD screen on the printer.
|The cartridge should be easily available when needed. Some vendors provide the facility to order cartridges over the telephone or over the Internet. As any inkjet owner will testify to, this saves a lot of hassle, and besides, you get original cartridges.|
For a SoHo: A printer with a single colour and single black cartridge should be OK. The cost per page will matter more in this case. If your requirements are high volume and high speed, then it is better to go with a laser device.
Inkjet or laser: Inkjet printers are a lot cheaper than laser printers. They also consume a lot less power and have a lower running cost. But the cost per page is usually over twice as much as a laser printer and therefore laser printers are less expensive in the long run, as you print more and more pages.
Network: A dedicated network printer (with a RJ-45 port) can usually cater better to more than 10 computers on a network. Though a network printer is more expensive, you should get one, especially if your business is growing.
A new technology in inkjet printing promises to rival the speeds only possible with laser devices until now. The trick is to eliminate the moving head—rather, the movement—and instead use a head as wide as the paper. This head delivers a blast of ink across the length of the paper and this repeats line after line. It is therefore a lot faster than conventional inkjet printing. Silverbrook has already showcased a prototype of such a printer; HP will soon introduce such printers.