This question is not unlike the “how long is a piece of string?” puzzler. Most households and small businesses have at least one printer under the roof and like most types of office hardware, printers can vary in price considerably. You can get an entry level model that churns out black and white text-only pages with relative ease, right up to specialist machines that are capable of pin-sharp graphics on an A3 poster.
Probably, however, you’re looking for something in between these two ends of the spectrum, so your budget decision, and whether you should buy a cheaper printer model, is determined by several factors.
What is your budget?
Of course, if you really only have £50 available to buy a printer, then you’ll be able to find a basic model that’ll do what it says the tin. The cost of printers really has come down in recent years and you can get a decent machine for under £50 with no problems – under £30 if you look hard. Online retailers like cartridgepeople.com know all there is to know about printers so they will be able to advise you on the most affordable model for your needs.
What do you need from your printer?
You have to think about what you’ll be using your printer for – if it’s just going to turn out a couple of letters home a month, or some basic photos to stick on birthday cards, then you can comfortably get away with buying a budget black and white printer. If you’re going to be using it to print out reports, leaflets, decent-quality photos on proper photo paper, then you need to step it up a bit and buy the next level along.
How are you going to feed your machine?
In a lot of ways, this is a bigger consideration than the initial cost of the printer, because as long as you buy a well-respected brand of machine – from Hewlett Packard or Canon, for example, you’re going to get pretty good quality and longevity with the most entry-level of entry-level (IYSWIM). What matters in the long run is how much you’ll be spending on inks or toners every month or so. Refills can be expensive, so if you can run to a printer that, for example, takes separate colour cartridges, or XL cartridges, it’ll be worth the extra outlay at the start to keep your consumable costs down.
Inkjet or laser?
Many people are attracted to inkjet printers because they can be had for under £30, but once they get going, they can get through ink at an alarming rate, and that stuff ain’t always cheap. Although lasers are a tad more expensive to begin with, even the basic models, you need to think ahead to refilling them and toner powder is significantly cheaper in the long term.
Whatever type and level of printer you buy, it’s always a good idea to talk to your supplier to find out what model will suit you best; in short, budget printers work really well, so always aim for a machine that’ll give you what you need and no more. You really don’t need to spend a fortune if you simply don’t have one!