A printer is a useful output device that prints the data from a computer into a printing material like paper. There are various types, the most common ones being inkjet and laser. Inkjet is very useful to reproduce true colours, which only a very expensive laser one can produce. However, the printing speeds are lower and the text quality can be low when compared to laser. The running costs can be higher as well. But overall, for an all-round use, the inkjet is useful.
In a laser printer, the speed is very good and the output quality is also very high. However, the cost of toner cartridges for the laser types is higher when compared to the ink cartridges.
The next feature is monochrome or colour printer. A monochrome produces black and white images only, which is useful for printing text, but is not very appropriate for photo printing and other colour printouts. For an inkjet printer to print both black and white text and colour images, 4 colours should be available in the cartridge.
There is a feature called PictBridge, which allows transfer of photos from a memory card of a digital camera into the printer directly and produce colour photos printout. The print size and other features can be altered in the camera itself and the printout can be taken directly.
While purchasing printers, it is better to have an idea of the cost of cartridges and the availability, as at first some printers might be cheaper to buy, but the cost of the consumables would be so high and also difficult to locate, that buying the expensive version becomes more cost effective in the long run! Also in all-in-ones, it is important to check out the memory capacity, when it falls short of printing papers. This is evaluated in MB; the more the memory capacity, the speeder the printer.
The drivers are given along with the software. The updates for the drivers are made available in the manufacturer's website itself. Many all-in-ones give the facilities to fax, copy and scan without the PC switched on, which saves time. Printing speeds should also be considered, while buying. The competent ones give about 20-25 black and white pages per minute. However, the colour pages take time depending upon the image resolution etc.
Power consumption has to be taken into consideration. Some models can waste a lot of electricity, when in stand-by mode. Also the various types of printing modes offered has to be analyzed as well, with the common ones being standard, typically draft and best designed. This allows the running costs to be kept minimal. There are various media types wherein the print can be done. This includes different shapes, sizes and types of papers, CD/DVD, labels etc. Appropriate printers should be used for the specific needs.
Some also offer printing at both the sides, which is a very good and useful feature for many. The final thing to be noted is the connections. Mostly the latest versions have USB ports to attach to different USB devices. Also some are equipped with Ethernet facilities as well.
Printers are very advantageous and also come in various models and types, to suit different needs and necessities. Choosing the right model saves time and also proves useful, along with being cost effective as well.