There are a universe of options when it comes to buying a new printer, here's a quick guide.
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Buying a new printer can be surprisingly stressful. It’s almost like hiring a new employee or meeting a new colleague for the first time; you need to choose just the right type because you’re going to be working with it for a while.
There’s five main things you need to think about when you start the interview process (don’t actually ask the printer where it sees itself in five years’ time, though, as you may get some strange looks).
What do you need and what can the candidate do?
Most printers now are multifunction, with all kinds of features and gizmos to make your working life easier. Some, however, are just not necessary, even though you end up paying extra for them. Sit and think about what you do most and what you need most.
Scanning and printing are taken as read, but do you need to send emails from your printer as well? Do you really need a photocopy function? Do you need to network the printer to several machines, or to edit images and photos on it? Do you need much colour? These are all important considerations.
Then comes the cost
Obviously there’s the initial cost of the printer itself, but more important is the ongoing cost. You’ll need to buy inks or toners regularly and this can soon mount up.
You need to think about whether your printer should be inkjet or laser, as laser toner is cheaper than ink and whether your model can take compatible inks, which are much cheaper than original. You also need to think about where you’ll source your consumables from – online retailers like Cartridge People are useful here.
Seek out independent reviews
Don’t just listen to the salesperson – they want you to buy their product! Look for independent, third-party reviews as they are far more likely to be honest and objective. Look at the worst reviews you can find for a particular model and ask yourself if you can live with the slower-than-advertised print speed.
Take rave reviews with a pinch of salt as they may be paid for by the manufacturer. There’s also the independent testing websites and magazines that offer unbiased reviews.
Look at after-sales care
There’s more to keeping a high-end multi-function printer than just feeding it ink or toner. You have to keep it in good condition with a regular schedule of cleaning and maintenance.
Sometimes, however, things do go wrong and you need to get your machine repaired; you need, therefore, to look at customer service options, support options, warranties and guarantees. How rapid is the response when you ask for a repair or an engineer?
How long does the warranty last for? Go for the best you can comfortably afford.
Finally, the printer’s performance
It’s all very well having cheap inks and great after-sales care, but you also need to look at how fast and responsive the machine itself is.
Some offices need a lot of printouts and if the page-rate isn’t as good as you expected, or if the printer is prone to jams when the paper isn’t inserted using the right chants (we’ve all been there…), then your productivity will suffer.
If you need a high page-rate, pay the extra for it.