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How to buy a laser printer

Sun 1 Jan 2012
FYI, this story is more than a year old

While Inkjet printers are the mainstay of photographers, laser printers perform a much broader role. These days consumers and small business customers expect stunning, professional images, bright colour for document work and also handling of special paper stocks. This month we help you sift through the options out there to find the perfect laser printer for your needs.   Laser printers, particularly colour lasers, offer among the best available text quality, with crisp, clean edges for outstanding professionalism. They also deliver highly readable, well-formed text even at small sizes (as small as four points!) But it’s not just text quality that keeps lasers in the game – graphics quality is good enough for any office use, and is suitable for printing marketing materials and brochures as well. Of course you’re not going to get the amazing photo quality you do with inkjet, but if you need a printer that can deliver well across all areas and excel at document and text printing, a laser printer is the clear choice. So now that you’re convinced the laser printer is the right choice for you, what should you look for when shopping? 1)    Identify your needs: Make a list of the specific features you need, such as the ability to handle large files, print on various media (envelopes or labels) without jamming, a size to fit a particular desk space, multiple paper trays and compatibility with specific software. These are all things that most people don’t take into consideration at the time of purchase, but later wish they had! 2)    Do a trial run: Test out different printers (if possible) to compare print quality (resolution, dpi) as well as speed specifications across different brands and models. 3)    Take note of the paper path: If you know you’re going to be using your printer to handle envelopes, transparencies, card stock, labels or any other special media on a regular basis, it’s important to look at the paper path. Try to avoid printers with 180-degree U-turn paper paths. 4)    Think ink: Take the price of ink and toner cartridge refills into consideration. 5)    Do your homework: Read up on different printers and brands online, visit a few different stores, speak with friends and colleagues and compare warranties and service contracts. It may not seem like a big deal right now, but the right printer can affect your daily life in a big way. Think about it – most offices or anyone who works from home probably use their printer multiple times a day, for everything from work documents to invitations to signs and advertising. With the right printer, you’ll save yourself the headaches of constantly battling paper jams, runny ink, streaky print jobs and complicated user manuals. Happy hunting!

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