The very first step in choosing a printer is to take an inventory of your requirements.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- How many pages will you print per month?
- Do you need to print in color?
- Do you need to print photographs?
- Do you need to print from your tablet or smart phone?
- What Operating System does your Computer(s) use?
- Do you also need a scanner, copier, or fax machine?
Here are some tips to help you narrow your search:
- If you print more than 500 pages per month, a Laser Printer is recommended.
- If you need only to print in black and white, a mono color laser printer will cost the least to operate.
- If you need to print pictures on picture paper, you need an Inkjet Printer.
- If you need to print from a mobile device the pinter needs to be Mobile Print Ready.
- Look at the manufactures website to determine if the printer supports your Operating System(s).
- If you need to scan, fax or copy; you need a Multifunction Printer.
Calculating the Total Cost of a Printer
The most important step before deciding which printer to purchase is to calculate the cost to own, operate and maintain the printer in question.
Here is what you need to know to make your comparisons:
- The initial cost of the printer.
- The number of years the printer is to be in operation.
- The cost of an extended warranty to ensure the printer is operational the required number of years.
- The expected yearly cost of servicing (mainly pertains to commercial grade printers) the printer.
- The pages per cartridge yield count of the ink/toner cartridges you will use.
- The number of pages printed per year.
- The cost of toner/ink cartridges.
* To make an accurate comparison the warranty periods of the printers you wish to compare need to be the same. To accomplish this you might have to calculate the cost of an extended warranty for the difference in time.
** You can usually find the print yield of a cartridge on the manufacture's website, if not, do an online search with the cartridge's part number followed by "+Print +Yield" and you should find an answer. Also, make sure the same yield formula is used for the printers you are comparing.
The formula looks like this:
The first step is to determine what it costs to print an average page. To calculate this, divide the cost of a cartridge (to be purchased from your usual supplier) by the pages per cartridge yield. Some manufacturers make more than one version of a cartridge so choose the one with the highest yield. Next, multiply the cost per page by the number of pages you print per year. If the printer will need to be serviced or parts other than print cartridges require replacement in the span of a year add this total to the cost of pages printed per year figure to calculate the yearly operational cost. Now multiple the yearly operational cost by the number of years the printer is to be used. If there are any other costs of operation that have not yet been added, add them now. The last step is to add the initial purchase expense and extended warranty cost to the cost of operation which will yield the total cost of owning and operating the printer.
How to Decide Which Printer to Purchase
The final step is to compare the total cost of the printers in which you are interested. If some or all of them are similar in price, choose the one with which you are the most comfortable, and if you are not sure which one that is, answer the following questions.
- If you are looking at more than one manufacturer, which one offers the best customer support? If you do not know the answer, call their customer support lines and find out. Just tell them you have "pre-sale" questions. When they ask for your question , say something like "I am considering purchasing this printer, to use for ______, is there anything you have encountered as a technician that I should be aware of?"
- Which one is more esthetically pleasing?
- Which one comes up more readily when you search for it online?