This guide will help you choose the printer that's right for your needs. Printers are divided into inkjet, laser, and dot matrix depending on the printing technology used. The wide range of options is further enhanced by the ability to choose from multifunction printers that also feature scanner and copier functionality. Read on to learn about printer parameters and what they mean so that you can confidently choose the printer that's right for you.
If you want to choose a printer that you will be 100% happy with, you need to have a clear idea of why you are buying it and what you expect it to do. Home printers, for example, have different requirements than those for business or school use.
If this description fits you, it is a good idea to choose a home inkjet printer. Their low purchase price and compact dimensions easily offset the cost of ink cartridges. Better yet, they are mostly made in a multifunctional design, so they can also scan and copy documents.
In this case, a laser or LED printer is a good choice for you. They are notable for their fast and inexpensive printing, especially when it comes to black and white documents. Due to their higher purchase price and very low printing costs, they are suitable for use as business printers. Similarly to inkjet printers, laser printers are also available in a multifunctional design.
For printing photos, your best options are thermal printers or high-quality inkjet printers. The difference lies in the printing technology, where the thermal printer uses dry printing and the colour intensity is determined by the temperature. Unlike inkjet printers, they are not suitable for printing common text documents.
The maximum print resolution, usually listed in DPI, indicates the number of pixels that the printer can print in a given area. More precisely, it means the number of dots that the printer can print per inch. The general rule is that the higher the DPI, the finer and the more detailed the printed image.
With inkjet printers, especially if you want to print photos, we recommend choosing a printer with a high print resolution. Basic inkjet models print at 4800x600 DPI, the current printing standard is 4800×1200 DPI, and some more high-end devices offer a resolution of 5760x1440 DPI or more.
Laser printers are designed primarily for printing text documents, so they can get away with having a comparatively low resolution. Basic laser printer models print at 600x600 DPI. However, even among cheaper models, you can find printers with a resolution up to 4800x600. That said, the print resolution is not a key parameter when choosing a laser printer. Laser printers are not designed for printing images and photos, so the resolution is not nearly as important in this case.
For 3D printers, the resolution is listed as horizontal and vertical, in tenths of a millimetre. Horizontal resolution refers to the X and Y axes, and vertical to the Z axis. The value indicates the minimum possible thickness of one layer. At present, the recommended horizontal resolution is below 0.1mm and vertical up to 0.2mm. The thinner the layers, the more detailed objects you can print, with a caveat that the printing will also take longer. When printing sophisticated objects, you also have to consider various supporting constructions, which means extra work for the printer. Printing a large object in high quality may take a whole day.
The difference between various types of paper may seem trivial, but it's not. Since there are dozens of paper types on the market today, it is important to know at least the basic parameters, such as size and weight.
Most inkjet and laser printers work with A4 and smaller sheets, but there are also those that can handle A3 and larger sizes. Consider, however, how many A3 pages you really print and whether paying extra for this feature is actually worth it.
The higher the weight, the better and more expensive the paper. Weight is listed in grams per square metre and the standard is 80g/m2. Quality paper has a weight around 250-300g/m2. Paper with very low grammage is also available, but we don’t recommend using it for duplex printing because the ink may smudge and bleed through.
The print speed indicates the number of pages that the printer can print per minute. When it comes to speed, laser printers are generally significantly faster and more efficient.
For inkjet printers, the standard print speed is about 20 pages per minute. For the most basic models, the speed drops to 5 printed pages per minute, but there are also devices that can print up to 70 pages per minute.
For laser printers, the standard print speed is about 20 to 30 pages per minute, but there are also devices that can print up to 60 pages per minute.
Many printers now offer the ability to connect to a computer or phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Connection cables are no longer necessary, which speeds up the printing process and makes printing much easier overall.
This feature allows you to refill the ink straight into the printer tank. This is a greener option than constantly buying new cartridges.
Some printers can print over the entire surface of a sheet of paper, without any margins.
If you are interested in duplex printing, look for a printer that explicitly lists this feature.
There are printers that, in addition to regular printing, can also copy and scan documents. We call them multifunction printers. This is the best printer option for a regular user.
Some printers can also fax documents.
While the USB format has become indispensable over the past decade, memory cards have also gained considerable popularity. Many modern printers allow you to print documents straight from a memory card.
Also known as ADF, this is a device that makes printing faster and easier. While you normally have to put sheets into the printer yourself, the automatic document feeder can do it for you. Perhaps the most useful feature is its ability to automatically turn the sheets for duplex printing. Standard document feeders can handle up to 200 pages per minute.
Laser and LED printers can print over 2000 pages with a single standard toner cartridge. This is one of the best options available if you want to save on the operating costs of printing.
With basic inkjet printer models, expect to print a few hundred pages per cartridge. Of course, the overall yield also depends on the volume of the cartridge. One millilitre of ink can print about twenty pages, so you can use this simple formula to get some idea of how many pages you can print: cartridge volume in ml × 20 = number of printed pages per cartridge. It is also worth noting that inkjet printers consume a certain amount of ink for automatically cleaning the print head, which takes place every time you turn on the device. Each cleaning procedure consumes approximately the same amount of ink as printing 5 standard pages.
Basic inkjet printer models are very cheap and affordable for everyone.
However, if you print fairly often, it pays to invest in a more advanced device that offers higher resolution, faster printing, easier operation, and many extra features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, automatic document feeder, duplex printing, etc. Multifunction printers for normal home use don’t cost much and these devices are also suitable for less demanding professionals.
In the higher price category, you can find well-equipped printers for demanding users. Truly high-end devices cost a hefty sum, but their features are excellent.
Basic laser printer and LED printer models are slightly more expensive compared to basic inkjet devices, but their low printing costs are well worth the price.
If you print often, however, it pays to invest in a more advanced device. With a laser printer, you have to be ready to pay extra if you want to print in colour. The price of a colour laser printer is similar to that of a more advanced inkjet printer. Well-equipped laser printers that are suitable for smaller offices are relatively cheap, but professional printers designed for large offices can be very expensive.
3D printers are getting cheaper as the technology evolves, so now you can get a 3D printer for a reasonable price without much trouble. These cheaper models are mainly suitable for creating small 3D models and prototypes. There are also 3D printers on the market that cost as much as a car, and these can create some truly incredible things.
Multifunction printers also provide a scanner and copier function. They are becoming increasingly popular in both homes and offices. Multifunction printers can be either inkjet, laser, or LED. Before buying one, consider how often you are planning to use it and what you normally print. Inkjet printers are better suited for printing photos and graphics, while laser and LED printers excel at printing text documents.
You have to ask yourself if you really need all the functions that this type of printer offers. How many copies, faxes, scans, and prints do you actually make every day? Multifunction printers have become very popular especially in home and medium-sized business environments because they can save you plenty of space and time.
The most common issue is the scanner resolution because the cheaper devices generally offer scanning that is of low quality. You should also take note of what printing technology the printer uses. A laser printer and an inkjet printer inevitably have different parameters.
In general, scanners in multifunction printers are not as good as dedicated scanners. However, they are generally sufficient for home and office use, where you usually just scan photos or text. Multifunction printers also offer the advantage of saving the space required for multiple devices. For professional photo scanning and printing, we recommend using a dedicated scanner and a high-quality inkjet printer.
Inkjet printers deliver excellent print quality. They are suitable for printing photos and are equally useful for both casual users and professionals. Their biggest advantage lies in their very low purchase price - which, if you don’t print too often – easily offsets the higher cost of ink cartridges.
Photo printers are designed for those who require professional-quality photo printing. These printers support a large number of print features and settings, and the mobile versions can produce a physical photo that you can hold in your hands just a few moments after you take it. The most popular photo printers use thermal technology, but high-quality, high-resolution inkjet printers can easily match them.
If a standard A4 size is not enough for you and you know you need to print A3 prints or posters, technical drawings, diagrams, etc., consider buying a large format printer. Large-format printers can have a print width of up to 254cm, 233cm more than the standard A4. The most common printer technologies are ink and laser, which are very cost-effective if you don’t print in particularly large quantities, and they are less expensive than ordinary screen printing. Some large format printers also come with a multifunction scanner design.
The inkjet multifunction printer is generally the most common printer type found in European households, but our product selection also includes models designed for professional high-quality photo printing. If you don’t print all that often and require colour printing from time to time, an inkjet printer is a great choice for you.
Every inkjet printer requires ink cartridges. This can get really expensive if you print a lot, so pay close attention to the ink consumption listed in the printer's specifications. When purchasing a new ink cartridge, be sure to check that your printer and the new cartridge are compatible.
If you want to maintain print quality and save on ink, you can buy a printer with the a tank system. These printers allow you buy ink in sealable bottles instead of whole cartridges, so you can refill your printer in seconds whenever you need. Check out the Ink Tank Inkjet Printers category to learn more.
Laser and LED printers provide a fast and inexpensive way to print many black and white documents. They are best suited for users who print text documents on a regular basis, for example, schools and businesses. Some models also offer a colour printing option.
The most common users of laser and LED printers are university students, office workers, and other people who, for one reason or another, have to print large amounts of text. A single toner cartridge will generally yield about 2000 pages of text.
If you are buying a laser printer for your business, make sure that it has an Automatic Document Feeder. This can save you and your employees a lot of time, because it makes printing considerably faster and is absolutely invaluable for duplex printing. Also take note of the print resolution, as it can be rather low in cheaper models. This could pose problems if you ever need to print documents with a small font.
Laser and LED printers operate on basically the same principle, with the only major difference being the source of electromagnetic radiation. Laser printers use a perfectly focused laser beam, which gradually irradiates dots on the so-called drum. The beam is guided by a system of mirrors. LED printers have a laser head with one or more diodes, which pulse-flash across the entire page width. This makes them much more compact and also reduces the number of mechanical components they need to have, reducing the overall risk of failure. Another advantage of LED printers is their ability to adjust the intensity of emitted light, which means that they can produce different colour tones and finer colour transitions when printing.
Laser printers with a tank system are a great option if you want to save money and maintain excellent print quality. Here, you don't need toner cartridges—you can simply refill the printer yourself whenever you want, using a special supply device. You can read more about this innovative approach in our HP Neverstop: The First Cartridge-Free Laser Printer article.
3D printers have undergone a tremendous amount of development during their short existence, and today there are many options available. Before buying one, you need to spend some time studying 3D printing, in general, to make the selection process easier.
The time when 3D printers were exclusively the domain of hardcore enthusiasts is past. At present, 3D printers are often used by prototype designers, architects, and other designers from various fields. Many schools and organisations also use 3D printers for study purposes.
3D printers are used to reproduce 3D graphic designs. 3D printing allows you to create complex functional shapes with less material than is required by traditional production methods. The basic principle is very simple. You create a spatial model on your computer and send it to the printer. The 3D printer then prints out the model by gradually applying horizontal layers of molten plastic.
The build area is most often listed in millimetres and in three axes. The last one indicates the height. All the dimensions are often similar or even exactly the same. A 3D printer for home use should have a build area of at least 100 × 100 × 100.
The printing materials most commonly used in 3D printing are ABS or PLA, available in 1.75mm or 3mm thick filaments. ABS is more suitable for smaller projects because the thermal expansion of this material causes the individual layers to twist and warp due to the difference in temperature, so if the printed object is large, the resulting deformation can be big enough to prevent any further printing. PLA, on the other hand, is a nicely malleable and biodegradable material, which, however, retains its mechanical properties only to a temperature of about 60°C.
The print speed depends on the printer's parameters, but also on the complexity of the printed object and the type of material used. Speed is listed in millimetres per second. Ideally, the printer should have a print speed of at least 40mm/sec, but if you can get a faster printer, that's a nice bonus.
The printing bed should be positioned horizontally to ensure an even nozzle height at every printing point. The bed also serves to attach the model, which is why printing beds often have a rough surface, to which the first layers can easily stick. Another option is that the printer will create a wide base for the printed model, which will get separated from the model during the last printing phase. The deformation of the edges cause by rapid cooling can be avoided either by a pedestal that would serve as a support, or by using a heated printing bed to prevent rapid cooling of the model.
Dot matrix printers excel at printing long text documents at a very low cost. They are especially suitable for printing long lists, forms, and accounting documents. When printing, they use a pin system where the pins strike an ink-soaked ribbon against the paper. For this reason, these printers are unsuitable for printing anything other than text.
If you work in accounting or simply need to print long documents on a regular basis and want to print them quickly and with several copies at a time, then a dot matrix printer is exactly what you need.
The number of pins is the most important parameter when choosing a dot matrix printer. Printers are divided into two categories according to their number of pins.
These printers are suitable for printing basic documents without complicated graphics.
The number of pins directly affects print quality and print speed. Printers with a larger pin-count are faster, offer better printing quality, and are usually quieter. They are also able to print multiple copies at a time.
Also take note of the print speed, which indicates the number of characters that the printer can print per second.
Receipt and POS printers are used to print receipts for customers. In addition to the fast speed and low cost, you will also appreciate their ease of use and long service life.
Receipt printers can be thermal or dot matrix. The advantage of dot matrix printers is a lower price, minimal operating costs and the ability to print on multiple sheets at the same time. Thermal printers excel at higher speeds and quiet printing, but their printing has limited durability.
The most common interface types for connecting a receipt printer are USB or LAN, but higher models also offer Wi-Fi for easy and convenient cable-free connectivity.
Paper rolls with a width of 55 to 80mm are used in cash registers. Some models allow you to choose the roll width according to your current needs.
The printhead is a major component of an inkjet printer that contains the printing elements, enabling the printer to put ink on paper. The cartridge may or may not be part of the printhead. The printhead generally prints using the three most common colours.
It is a label for a replaceable ink cartridge in inkjet printers.
It is a black or coloured powder (CMYK: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow - Yellow and Black) used in laser printers and copiers. Different polymers are used in the production of toner.