In the latest in our Ask CyberGuru series of articles, we are asked “I am looking for a printer for my home office to print documents. What printer would suit my needs? Are the cheap ones available at (insert retail store name) going to last? What type of printer should I buy?”.

When comparing printers, it is worthwhile checking what you need is going to be sufficient for your needs. Questions such as, “What features do you need?”, “Will you be faxing?” “Do you need to print in colour?” and “What is the number of pages you can print per purchase?” can help aid in determining the correct printer that will suit your needs.

Before answering this question, let’s review the printer types available for home offices. Inkjet printers come in two main forms: basic and multifunction. Basic printers are simply printers that just will print documents to a page. Multifunction printers provide the ability not just to print, but can also scan, copy and sometimes fax. An increasing number of printers also enable internet-enabled printing. Using an internet connection, a printer can be used over the internet by sending the document to be printed via email to the dedicated email address of the printer. These cartridges are often separate ink tanks for each colour (often four or five) and are required for the continued use of the printer. These often don’t last as long because the inks have limited capacity, and often dry up if not regularly used.

Laserjets are being becoming increasingly common amongst home offices and businesses due to the relatively affordable purchase price and longevity of the toner cartridges. Laserjets often have several independent trays on which you can print from, so you could have your business’ pre-printed letter head in one, blank pages in another and a separate one for envelopes. The toner cartridges often provide a longer life than traditional ink cartridges in printers as they are designed for regular use. If you are after colour, this will be more expensive. Toner cartridges often last longer because they are designed for regular use.

When looking for a printer, the cheapest model is not always the cheapest in the long term. Often these printers seem to be affordable initially, but over the longer term they are not reliable and enduring. Whilst these printers seem to be quite affordable to purchase initially, they can often cost more once you consider the accessories, replacement inks and useable lifetime. The real cost of printing comes down some of the printer specifics and what is provided.

Often cheaper do not provide the necessary cables to connect to your computer, requiring you to purchase them separately. Further, the cartridges are provided as only “starter” or “sample cartridges”, which require you to immediately purchase cartridges. These can be quite expensive and oftentimes more than the printer itself. If they do come with it they do not often last very long as they are not manufactured to last.

We hope this answers your question!

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