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Laser Printers Buying Guide

As more and more people bring work home, getting solid copies of information is important - If it's not on paper, all it takes is a power surge to destroy that essay, spreadsheet, or family photo. Printers are not only more affordable and portable than they used to be, but they're more than just printers. Read on for our guide on all the different options available.

Ink or laser?

This is arguably the most important question to ask when purchasing a printer. Inkjet, the most common type out there, is fairly self-explanatory - It works by shooting tiny jets of ink on to the paper in a pattern specified by the computer. Laser, on the other hand, uses a highly focused beam, commonly known as a laser, to get your document from the screen to the paper. How exactly does it do that? Well, it's all very complicated, but let us say this - the technology works, and is usually more cost-effective than ink.

That's not to say if you buy a laser printer you'll never need to purchase anything apart from paper again. Laser printers use "toners", which are both larger and more expensive than ink cartridges, but also last a lot longer. Certain toners can give over 1,000 pages worth of printing - when compared to the average of 100 pages that an ink cartridge will give you, it's easy to see which will be cheaper in the long run. On top of that, laser printers are (in general) a bit faster than inkjet printers.

On the other side of the coin, there's the disadvantages of laser; It's a lot more costly to set up, particularly if you're looking for a colour, multi-function (more info below) version. The quality for photo printing isn't quite to the same standard as inkjet printers, but again, this is a generalisation. There will be certain examples of laser printers that out-photo inkjets, in the same way that there are some inkjets that are faster than lasers. Common sense and a bit of research are always good tools to use in certain situations - logic tells you that a $1000 inkjet will outshine a $120 laser printer.

It really comes down to what you're planning on printing. If you chew threw hundreds of pages of black-and-white text-only documents, laser is definitely the smartest option. If you only occasionally use your printer, and print as many colour documents as you do black-and-white, then an inkjet printer might be better for you.

Printers that do more than print

Or more commonly known as multi-function printers, these usually do three things - print, scan, and copy. Occasionally there will be examples that have a phone attached, and can also be used as a fax. Brother produce some of the best multi-function + phones out there, but they're not the only company that make them.

Some of the more modern printers are coming equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity - Basically, it connects to the same network as your computer, which removes the need of having a cable connecting your computer to your printer. A few are even coming with detachable, purpose-built "tablets" that let you browse the web and print, erasing the need for a computer altogether.

Increasing the distance between us and our computers, even more, is "ePrint", an HP-exclusive, which lets you email photos straight to your computer. Your computer is given its own customisable email address, letting you email photos straight from your smartphone or PC, no matter where you are. Now how's that for nifty?

Photo printers

Photo printers are dedicated solely to printing photos. Yes, most of them will still print documents, but that's not the purpose for which they were built. Photo printers have a much higher "Dpi" than standard printers. Dpi, which in the case means Dots Per Inch, is the number of drops of colour in an inch of paper. For example, a printer with 600 dpi will launch 600 droplets of ink at the piece of paper for every square inch it covers. To really use photo printers to their fullest, photo paper should be used - standard printing paper doesn't really cut the mustard.

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