Not every computer printer is alike. Many share common features, but when you're shopping for the best printer, there are a few key features you should consider.
Network or Wireless Connectivity
In today's busy households where more and more people are working with multiple computers, it makes sense to look for a computer printer with network or wireless connectivity. Traditional USB computer printers must be hooked directly to a computer; useless if you want to print from a laptop, or share the printer with multiple machines.
Network printers enable you to print from multiple computers without onerous print-sharing setup. Wireless connectivity is ideal if you're printing from a laptop or don't want to run cords all over your home.
Speed vs. Quality
The question of speed versus quality isn't an objective one; it's subjective, depending on your needs. Some computer printers offer high-speed printing at low qualities, while many high-quality printers offer low-speed prints. The choice is yours to determine which is more important: speed or quality.
If you do a lot of text printing where you're not trying to print high-quality photos, looking for a computer printer with high speed printing is probably the best choice. If you do want to print photos or other high-quality prints, you may want a computer photo printer or other high-quality device that sacrifices speed.
Can It Read Memory Cards?
While not always a deal-breaker, finding a printer that can read digital camera memory cards can save you the hassle of yet another peripheral. Some people rely solely on printers that read memory cards to download photos from a digital camera, while others can do so equally easy through a laptop or computer memory card interface. AT the high end, you'll find printers with LCD displays that let you see the photos before you print them. This can eliminate the need to copy your digital pictures to a computer before you print them.
Print Resolution and Paper Type
Print resolution is a big indicator of quality. If you need high-quality prints, look for printers that offer high-resolution print capabilities. Likewise, paper type can be a make-or-break for printer selection. If you need a printer that can print photo paper or envelopes, look for these features. Not all printers can print on all paper types, so if you're not specific about your needs, you might not get a printer with the features you want.
Do You Need a Color Computer Printer?
These days, laser printers are cheap enough that they make a great printer option for people that only need to print in black and white. However, if you want to print in color, you might need a color computer printer, which typically means you'll be getting the inkjet variety. Color laser printers are available, but they're not quite cost-effective enough to make them a viable choice over color inkjet printers. They're also not as good as inkjets at printing photos. However, color inkjet printers are significantly more expensive to operate than laser printers, so color print capability comes at a higher cost.
Instead of paying for prints at the local drugstore, you can invest in a photo printer that produces glossy, high-resolution pictures suitable for framing, sharing or scrapbooking. You'll have the freedom to make photos any time you want, and you'll gain complete control over the photo printing process.
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