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Thinking of Getting a New Printer? Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy

Posted by Brian Pietrus on

Samsung printer

Whether you’re currently shopping for a new printer or you’ve just gotten fed up with your old workhorse monochrome device, there are a lot of factors to consider before making a purchase. In addition to cost, you’ll want to factor in other considerations like your intended use for the device. It’s possible you can even get the results you need from your current printer! Before you drop a few hundred dollars on a new device, determine what your professional and creative needs are, then find a printer that can best accommodate those needs.

man making a decision

Do I actually need a new printer?

Some people simply don’t like using older printer models. The reasons vary: it may look “unprofessional,” it may not have a high enough resolution, or for some people it may provide an unsatisfactory printing experience. Whatever your reasons are for buying a new printer, it may be worth reconsidering that old, dependable device you’ve had in your home or office for the last few years. With some slight modifications, you may be able to get like-new print quality from your tried-and-true printer!

  • Try changing your printer’s settings before you decide that your old device is junk. Adjust them for optimal print quality. This may require lowering your print speed, since a higher print speed generally sacrifices some of your work’s quality.
  • If you’re going to print photographs, set the resolution to 300 dots per inch (dpi) and make sure you’re printing in CMYK mode (cyan, magenta, yellow, key/black) instead of RGB mode. RGB (red, orange, and blue) is a configuration that produces good results on your screen but not on paper.
  • Use an editing program to print your photographs. This lets you touch up your pictures, control the color settings, and adjust the resolution for even more fine-tuned results.
  • Save photographs and images as TIF files instead of a JPG format to avoid compression, which can reduce the quality and resolution of your files.
  • Try switching up the paper you use. For photo prints, you should really be using a higher-quality photo paper instead of plain printer paper. This can affect the distribution of ink on the page, which may produce different results.

woman using computer at work

What are my print needs?

If you’ve decided that your old printer isn’t salvageable and you’re determined to get a new printer, you may find yourself wondering, “Now what?” One of the most important factors to consider when weighing your options is what you’ll actually be using your device for. If you’re looking for a printer to use at home, you may have different needs than if you were shopping for a shared printer to use at the office. Consider what you need and how you can best meet those needs before you commit to buying a device that won’t serve you well.

  • Are you primarily going to print in black-and-white? If so, a cheap monochrome printer may be enough to meet your needs. Most of the really flashy updates on newer printer models deal with photo resolution, color capabilities, or multifunction capabilities like scanning and faxing.
  • Will you be printing images, or are you mostly buying a printer to produce text documents? For text-centric work, a laser printer may be more economical. For photo-heavy projects, choose an inkjet printer to get better resolution and color options.
  • Do you need all the bells and whistles of a multifunction printer (MFP), or can you get by without scan/copy/fax capabilities?
  • Are you mostly printing photographs, or do you require professional-quality photos for work or school? If so, a dedicated photo printer may be what you’re looking for.

large office interior

Where will this printer be used?

In addition to considering what your print needs are, you may also want to consider where the new printer will be set up. A desktop inkjet printer for your home doesn’t leave much to consider, but what about a huge, free-standing MFP laser printer at the office? Some department printers (see below) are like a piece of furniture, while other smaller printers may still be too large for desktop use. Think about where your new printer will ideally be set up, and whether or not you can accommodate a printer in that location.

  • Office printers are frequently categorized into one of four designations: personal printers, work team printers (usually used by five or fewer coworkers), workgroup printers (generally used by up to 10 coworkers), and department printers (used by 10 or more coworkers).
  • Consider the size and shape of the printer. If you’re setting up the device on your desk, you’ll be somewhat limited by how big the printer can be. If you’re getting a free-standing tower printer, you may need to clear out some floor space in a convenient corner of your office.
  • Regardless of whether the printer is for work or home, you’ll need to assess whether or not you have the space, electrical outlets, and furniture arrangements to set up a printer in that spot.
  • If the printer is for a shared office, expect a lot more people to use your printer every day. This means you’ll go through paper and ink/toner faster. You may also need networking capability and higher print speeds to avoid long wait times and backed-up print projects.
  • If your printer is going to be shared by a high number of employees or will otherwise be producing a high volume of print work, you may want a printer that can print a lot of pages with ease. This is usually determined by both the print speed of the device and the page yield of the ink/toner cartridges you’ll need for that printer.

person using an inkjet printer at work

What kind of product specs should I look for?

You’ve made up your mind on what type of printer would best meet your needs, but you’re not out of the water yet. Even after the inkjet vs. laser printer decision and the office vs. home use choice, you’ll still need to evaluate a number of printer models that fall under each desired category. This question basically boils down to performance: what do you need from your printer in terms of color capabilities, print speed, and print quality? If you anticipate using your printer to produce photos for work or school and you need professional results, consider a photo printer that accepts more than just black/cyan/magenta/yellow cartridges. Some printer models also accept additional ink cartridge colors like red, green, photo cyan, and photo magenta.

  • Consider the printer’s resolution. Most contemporary printers have a minimum resolution of 600 dpi, which will produce decent text documents but will lack quality when printing smaller text or any type of images.
  • 1,200 dpi is a good resolution for fine details and/or small text sizes. However, it’s worth comparing the actual print resolution in stores if you can. Many office supply stores have test models available so that you can produce sample pages to compare the quality of each model’s print work.
  • If wireless printing capability is important to you, look for printer models with this feature.
  • Check the print speed if you anticipate needing to produce a high volume of work quickly.

using a debit card to make a purchase

How much should I expect to spend?

Another important factor to consider is the cost of a new printer. If you’re buying a printer for the office and using a business expense account, cost is less of a concern. However, if you’re paying for your printer out-of-pocket, you may need to consider how much the printer costs. You’ll also need to consider the hidden cost of buying a new printer: how much the ink/toner will cost. 1ink.com carries most cartridge models for every major ink and toner brand. We sell premium compatible and remanufactured replacement cartridges for HP printers, Brother printers, Canon printers, and more!

  • Most newer inkjet printer models will run anywhere between $80 and $350, depending on the brand, the print quality/capabilities, and the year it was produced.
  • A new laser printer will cost more than a new inkjet printer. Decent models typically start around $200 and can go up to $700 for a state-of-the-art home printer or several thousand dollars for a premium office model.
  • Don’t forget to factor in the cost of ink/toner. Toner cartridges typically produce a higher volume of print work, with some cartridges capable of printing 20,000 or even 30,000 pages. Ink cartridges generally max out around 500 to 1,000 pages.
  • The printer industry works similar to the razor industry: a new printer can be bought for fairly cheap, but they get you with inflated prices on ink/toner to use in that printer (not unlike how a shaver is fairly inexpensive or even free, but razor blade expenses add up quickly).
  • You can save money on your print costs by buying compatible or remanufactured replacement cartridges from 1ink.com. Our ink and toner produce the same quality results you’d get from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cartridge, but you’ll save up to 85% off the OEM retail price!

office meeting at conference table

Bottom Line:

Don’t rush into buying a printer that won’t fully meet your needs or fit in your work space. Take your time to determine what type of printer would work best for your creative and professional projects as well as your intended workspace. Then compare product specs, print quality, and price, and make an informed decision based on the research that you’ve done. Shopping around for a new printer is time-consuming, but it’ll be worth your time and effort to get the right printer for your needs!