How to Choose an Office Printer

The world of office printers has come a long way in recent years, something that is both a blessing and a curse if you find yourself shopping for a new one. There are loads of features, types, and sizes, so choosing the right printer is often a matter of figuring out exactly what you need it to do.

Inkjet or Laser?

One of the big choices is whether to opt for an inkjet printer or a laser printer. Each have their positive points and negative points. Laser printers are generally faster than inkjets, but are often more expensive to purchase. Inkjets are great for colour printing, but ink cartridges can need replacing quite often. If your main use of the printer will be printing black and white documents, a laser printer may be your best choice. You should opt for inkjet if colour printing or photo printing is your main priority. While there are full colour laser printers available, they are expensive and the cost of toner can add up if you have multiple cartridges to replace.

Office Printer

All-in-One or printer only?

Another big decision is whether you need a printer only or whether an all in one, or multifunction device, is more suited to your needs. A multifunction printer will include the features of other office devices, such as a scanner, copier, and fax machine. If you have regular use for these, an all in one printer can cut down on the amount of space they take up. However, if you don't have a need for them, they can add to the cost and size of the printer.

A4 or A3?

Most office printers are only capable of printing pages up to A4 size, and for most users this is sufficient. However, if you regularly need to print A3 pages, or even larger pages, it is worth considering a large format printer. A3 printers are easy to find, though they will be more of an initial investment. They can be used for A4 printing, too, so it can be worth thinking about your long term needs and whether an A3 printer will be useful in the near future.

Wireless or wired?

Another feature that many printer manufacturers are offering is wireless printing. This does usually come with an added cost, so think about whether you need it. If multiple users will be printing to the same office printer, wireless will allow them to do so easily. If a printer is dedicated for only one person to use, wireless is often an unnecessary feature. However, it is worth looking at the wireless features if you want to print from multiple devices, as some wireless printers will also allow you to print directly from a mobile device or camera.

DPI and Ink Costs

Whether you are printing documents or photos, it is worth checking the print resolution. Print resolutions are measured in dots per inch (dpi), and 1200 x 1600 dpi is considered a standard quality. If you are going to be printing finely detailed photos, a higher dpi will serve you better. For draft documents, though, you could easily use a printer with a dpi as low as 600 x 600 without any real problems.

Related to the resolution is the ink cost. The true operating cost of any printer is often seen in replacement cartridges. Photo printers will often have separate cartridges for each colour. This can allow you to only replace them one at a time, but this cost of this can add up. Many newer laser printers often require cartridges that are nearly the price of the printer. It is worth noting that in most cases the replacements will produce many more pages than the cartridges supplied with the printer. Consider the amount you will be printing and how frequently you will need to replace cartridges. In some cases, a more expensive printer and cartridge will actually save you money in the long run.

Choosing the right printer can be tricky, but when you compare features to what you actually need, you can quickly narrow down the field. When you find the perfect office printer for you, it will be a sound investment that will make your life much easier.


Carl Barton is a director of Office Allsorts who has worked in the office products industry for 15 years.

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