BEWILDERED BY CHOICE?
If you're thinking of buying yourself a new printer, with such a wide range available, how do you choose?
Laser or inkjet?
What price range?
First of all consider what you will be using it for, and then how much printing will you be doing.
INKJET OR LASER?
If you can do without colour, you can't beat a monochrome laser printer for economy, and speed.
Typically, toner works out at less that a penny a copy, compared to around 3 or 4p a copy for an inkjet.
They have high page per minute ratings, so you can print a lot of pages in a short time, but on the other hand, there is a warm-up period before printing starts, so just printing one or two sheets may actually be faster with an inkjet.
Lasers tend to be built better as well, and don't seem to suffer from the paper jams that all inkjets seem to suffer from time to time.
You also won't be faced with a dried-up ink cartridge if you've left your printer inactive, as you could with an inkjet..
On the other hand, in the home, you may not be happy with the dry ionisation smell from the laser process.
In theory, all that holds true for monochrome lasers should apply to colour lasers too.
However, in our experience, colour laser printers are expensive to run, so unless you're doing a lot of printing, and you dont mind paying 10p or more a copy, we'd suggest you stick to inkjets.
WHICH TYPE OF INKJET?
There are two main types of inkjet printers:
A. Those with separate printheads and cartridges.
B. Those with cartridges that have integral printheads.
There isn't really anything to choose between the results you'll get with either type, but there are implications for price and running costs.
Separate Printhead type
Typified by Epson printers, the advantage of this type is that you don't throw away the expensive printhead and electronics when the ink runs out - although you'll have to buy non-genuine cartridges to notice any savings.
Also, as they usually have a separate cartridge for each colour, you wont be throwing away unused ink when just one colour runs out.
However, eventually the printheads will eventually wear out or get blocked up.
HP printers of this type have replaceable printheads, but with Epson or Canon printers of this type, they are integral to the printer, so with these, this usually ends the printer's life.
Integral Printhead type
All Lexmark and Dell, most HP, and some Canon printers have printheads integrated into the cartridges.
Generally, there is one black cartridge, and one colour cartridge that holds the three basic colours.
With this type of printer you won't have to worry about the printheads wearing out or getting blocked, since you replace them each time you change the cartridge.
However, this is wasteful, as the printheads are capable of printing many times more than the life of the ink capacity of the cartridges.
The economic solution is to send your empty cartridges for recycling, and to buy good quality recycled ink cartridges.
COST OF INK
Unlike caviar and champagne, there is no world shortage of ink, and yet the major printer manufacturers ration its distribution as a means to finance their printer production.
It's a sad fact that each new generation of printer tends to have cartridges that hold less and less ink.
Not so long ago, you could buy an hp printer that had a black cartridge holding 45ml of ink, and a colour cartridge holding 38ml.
Now you will find they sell printers that will only take cartridges that are only about one third full, holding just 5 or 6ml of ink.
Replacement cartridges are cheaper, but of course you will end up paying much more unless you do very little printing, or else you buy recycled cartridges that are filled to the top.
Every year, thousands of tons of ink and toner cartridges are sent a landfill, when the majority could could quite easily be recycled and re-used.
Quite apart from the lost value, and the volume of landfill involved, the environmental pollution, and waste of raw materials is significant.
By using recycled cartridges whenever possible, you will be making a contribution to rectifying these concerns.
I hope you found this guide useful.
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