Choosing the Right Printer for Your Needs

by Brad Egeland

When you buy a new printer, you want it to be one that can handle your workload and one that will last you for at least a few years. Find out what you need to consider when choosing a printer for your business.

My wife and I have two small businesses between us.  I’m an independent IT consultant and she is a photographer.  So, when I say small, I mean really small – like one person each.  However, we still have the same needs as larger small businesses – a reliable network, good printers, durable laptops, etc.  And we have a large family, so there are certain things we have to take into consideration when we’re choosing our equipment for our respective businesses – like printers, which is what I would like to discuss for this article.

There are three key elements that you need to consider when choosing the right printer for your business needs.  And the need or answer to any one of these is definitely dependent on what you want to do with they printer – what you are expecting to get out of it.  The answer is also dependent upon what type of business you’re in.  These three elements are:

Quality, Network capability, Price

For our situation, my wife’s needs and my needs for a printer overlap a little, but there are big differences as well.  Even when it was just me in business for myself and my wife’s photography was just a hobby, her activities still had a huge affect on what we looked for in a printer so that hasn’t changed much over the years.  And it’s the primary reason why we are picky about our printers and why we sometimes even wear them out.

Let’s look at the three elements of price, quality, and network capability a little further….



Quality

What are you going to use your printer for?  Are you a marketing professional creating full color ads or marketing pamphlets on your printer.  Are you an IT consultant, like me, who produces most everything in black and white and quality output means almost nothing to you – everything you do in “high-quality” is online or electronic with no printed output?  Are you a photographer who will be printing proofs for your clients? 

Think twice about that last one before saying yes because getting your prints at home to match what you see on your screen is a continuous effort at best.  (Don’t get me started on this – you need a monitor calibrator, extra software, etc. and you still may not get it right – use an outside publisher for everything except basic quick proofs, in my opinion).

Network capability

Consider this functionality carefully because it will cost more up front but it can save you money in the long run.  The ability to hook your printer up wirelessly on your local network used to be a hard-to-find option that would cost you $100 - $150 more than for the same model printer without the wireless network option.  That price disparity has shrunk and some models that can network wirelessly don’t even have a non-network option to chose from, often making the decision to go wireless a no-brainer.

Bottom-line – go for a wireless network capable printer because you may have this printer for 2-3 years or more and the future flexibility to print wirelessly will be much appreciated even if you’re still not at that wireless point yet.

Price

For the office place, I highly recommend choosing an all-in-one printer that you can use for printing, copying, scanning, and faxing.  This will give you the most versatility at the best price.  My preference is usually for the HP line of printers because that’s where you are often going to find your broadest range of choices and prices.  It almost seems like they’ve had a corner on the wireless printer market for many years.  While their photo quality wireless all-in-one printer line used to run you as much as $350 - $450, top quality photo printing is now available wirelessly from HP and most other manufacturers for $150 - $250, sometimes even less.  We are all truly benefiting not only from technological advancements, but also from a bad economy.

Summary

Key attributes that used to be luxuries in a printer are now commonplace and the ability to print wirelessly is no longer an outrageously expensive option.  Only you know what’s right for your business needs.  However, the options available to the average business owner in terms of full-featured functionality are nearly endless.  My recommendation is to check your local Best Buy, Costco, or Sam’s Club for the best prices available for the features you deem necessary for your business need and take that step.  And because prices are so reasonable, go for more than what you think you might need – including the wireless printing capability and photo-quality printing – because they are inexpensive now and it’s highly likely you’ll wish you had gone for those options sometime in the next year.

Copyright © 2010 Attard Communications, Inc.
May not be copied, reprinted, or reproduced without express permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

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Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at www.bradegeland.com.

 
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