July 18, 2013

in Hardware Review

“For most people, choosing a printer entails balancing price, speed, and print quality” (Cekan, n.d., ¶1). Speed is rated by number of pages printed per minute but usually does not include the time it takes the computer to send the job to the printer. The additional features that help determine price and print quality are the cost per page and resolution. With any comparison of resolution, higher numbers equal better print quality, particularly when printing photographs. Calculating the printer’s cost is not as simple as finding the printer’s actual sticker price. Ink cartridges can cost from $12 to $38 and yield 300 to 800 pages per cartridge while laser toners average between $100 and $300 but yield an astounding 6,000 to 12,000 pages.

Laserjet vs. Inkjet Printers

The bottom line is that inkjets print great photos and lasers excel at text. However, since you cannot get both in one printer, you will have to compromise. Inkjets are ideal for home users who need to print text pages, color graphics, and color photos. Inkjet printers that use letter or legal sized paper have a price of $40 to $340. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the manufacturers do not make money on the printer but on the ink it requires. On the other hand, color laser printers give you the cleanest and sharpest results. So if you need the highest quality color pages, spending the extra money for a color laser printer makes sense. Becoming more affordable every day, these printers currently start at $400.

The art therapist who is fluent in digital imaging and makes the most of the medium may handle a larger number of prints than the art therapist who occasionally uses the computer as an imaging tool. Personally, when I upgraded to a color laser printer, I was more than pleased. My primary reason for making the switch was that I found myself having to constantly replace my ink jet printers. Using it daily to print photographs, computer art, and text, the ink jet printers I owned were unable to withstand the load and would consistently break down within a couple of years. Since the cost of repairing an ink jet printer is equal to or more expensive than purchasing a new one, I would often opt for the latter. My Okidata C5150 color laser printer prints vivid photographs and crisp text, costs roughly $600, and came equipped with all the toner cartridges. One of the downsides of some color lasers is its inability to print high quality 4”x6” glossy snapshots. However, even though glossy laser paper is hard to obtain, the color toners of most color laser printers give images a glossy sheen even when printed on regular white laser paper.

All in One

Color multifunction printers turn many people’s heads because they claim to do so much – print, scan, fax, and/or copy…. But according to tests by PC World, “none of them does everything splendidly” (McLaughlin, 2003, ¶3). If space restricts the number of devices one can have, it is important to know which features are most important to you and to carefully review the specifications accordingly. If space is not an issue, realize that all-in-one printers are not your only option and often buying separate devices dedicated to printing or scanning is the better choice.

Specialty Photo

“If you always want your pictures right now, and you want them to look like they came out of the processing machine at the photo shop, you’ll need that extra specialized printer” (McLaughlin, 2003, ¶19). These printers range in price from $80 to $700 and almost always have slots for digital camera memory cards. This feature allows you to print directly from the camera without requiring a computer connection.

“The fact is that nobody wants substandard photos after being used to high-quality processing from a local photo shop. At the same time, no one wants to buy more printers than they need” (McLaughlin, 2003, ¶19). The therapist has to determine what kinds of documents she will be printing and how often in order to make a decision about which printer or printers to purchase.

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