Printer Buying Guide
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Portable Inkjet Printers
These printers are small, lightweight and ideal for people on the move. Although the printing of high quality photographs is usually beyond this type of printer, basic colour printing is of good quality and the quality of text print is mostly outstanding considering the size of these tiny portable A4 printers. These printers are not suitable for high volume printing.

Inkjet Printers

The Inkjet Printer is the most commonly used type of printer among home and small business users. With excellent all round printing capabilities, from black & white text print and good colour prints through to very hi-resolution, high quality photographs using Inkjet Photo Printers. Inkjet printers are available from cheap entry level to high-end business use machines and can print from photo size prints to massive A2 and bigger sizes, there are models for occasional use and others for high volume print jobs too. One of the many great things about Inkjet printers is that you can use a wide variety of media to print on, including standard paper, photo paper, card, t-shirt transfers, canvas, projector film etc, achieving different looks and textures for your prints and print for different purposes. Most Inkjet printers are USB connections and not suitable for networks, although models are also available for networks and with parallel connections.

Multi-Function Inkjet Printers

Multi-Function Inkjet Printers have been built to meet the needs of home offices and small businesses. These excellent value machines provide multiple solutions in one compact and easy to use machine i.e. printing, scanning, copying and some also have built in fax machines too. Not only are these machines great for saving space on your desk, but they are also very good for printing too using the same technology as standard inkjet printers. The only thing you should be aware of is that you can only use one function at a time and if anything goes wrong with an "All-in-one" machine, you may lose the all the functions at once!

Laser Printers

Laser printers work in a similar way to photocopiers, except they use a laser instead of a bright light to scan with. They work by creating an electrostatic image of the page onto a charged photoreceptor, which in turn attracts toner in the shape of an electrostatic charge. Toner is the material used to make the image (as ink is in an inkjet printer) and is a very fine powder, so laser printers use toner cartridges instead of ink cartridges.

Laser Printers have traditionally been the best printing solution for heavy office users as they produce a very high quality black text finish and offer relatively low running costs. However, laser printers have advanced a great deal recently and their prices have steadily dropped, as a result there are now compact laser printers, multi-function and colour laser printers all at very affordable prices. Laser printers make sense if you need to do a lot of high quality black or colour prints, not photos. The great thing about a colour laser printer is that they can print a very good quality colour image on standard copier paper, so you do not need to use expensive photo paper for large jobs. Do check the prices of the consumables before you buy the printer as these can be very expensive for colour laser printers.

Laser printers are the best solution for people who are printing in large volumes, that is, in 100's of pages at a time or 1000's of pages per month. Colour lasers also take quite a while to warm up, so are not ideal for printing single pages.

Solid Ink Printers

Solid ink printers use solid wax ink sticks in a "phase-change" process, they work by liquefying wax ink sticks into reservoirs and then squirting the ink onto a transfer drum from where it is cold-fused onto the paper in a single pass. Solid ink printers are marketed almost exclusively by Tektronix / Xerox and are aimed at larger businesses and high volume colour printing by PrinterCentral.co.uk

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Solid ink printers used to be cheaper to purchase than similarly specified colour lasers and fairly economical to run owing to a low component usage, today it is not necessarily any cheaper than a colour laser printer. Output quality is good but generally not as good as the best colour lasers for text and graphics or the best inkjets for photographs. Print speeds are not as fast as most colour lasers.

Dye-Sublimation Printers

Dye-Sublimation printers use heat and solid colour dyes to produce lab-quality photographic images. Dye-Sub printers contain a roll of transparent film made up of page-sized panels of colour, with cyan, magenta, yellow, and black dye embedded in the film. Print head heating elements vaporize the inks, which adhere to a specially coated paper, as the ink cools it re-solidifies on the paper. Colour intensity is controlled by precise variations in temperature.

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