You’ll come across all sorts of great deals when shopping for a new home-use printer. With dozens of brands offering dozens of individual models, each highlighting different features and figures based around their performance, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of the bigger picture. When looking to spend only as much as needed for your next printer, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Buying cheap is expensive. One of the most costly things consumers who print with any regularity can do is buy the cheapest printer they can find. When you consider the technology and features available in a bottom-dollar printer these days, it makes sense to deduce that the printers themselves aren’t particularly profitable for the manufacturer to produce. Where the brands make back their money is ink. Cheap printers use a lot of ink and feature expensive brand-name cartridges with smaller payloads. If you are printing out movie tickets every month or so, this may not matter, but if you’re a student running through printing term papers and reading assignments, it adds up really quickly.
When you’re buying a printer, take special note in the specs for both the printer and it’s compatible ink cartridges. All manufacturers will give you, in black and white, the average number of pages per ink cartridge that model will print. Crunch those numbers against the price of the cartridge and compare to see if that cheap printer is really as good a deal as it seems.
Drawn in by features. If you’re anything like me, you love features. However, it’s important to step away and consider what features you will really use regularly. For example, multifunction all-in-one printer/scanner/copiers are great for students and business people who need to track receipts, save excerpts and notes from library books, or make copies of invoices for accounting purposes. But, if you’ve never found yourself shopping for standalone scanners or running to Kinkos to get something copied at the absolute last minute, you may not need those functions. Similarly, WiFi printing is really cool and convenient . . . so long as your desktop isn’t directly situated right next to where your printer will be located.
Plus, in many cases the all-in-one features underperform when compared to inexpensive standalone alternatives—like a dedicated desktop scanner. Understanding what features you want and need will also give you an idea of where it’s more important to spend a little extra cash. Photography enthusiasts are better off investing a bit more into inks and printheads and saying no to the all-in-one, for example.
Buying an inkjet (or laser, for that matter). Knowing what type of printer is best for your needs can help you prevent overspending in a big way and render better print results! You are likely familiar with the two most common printer types: inkjet and laser. Inkjet printers apply layers of ink by shooting tiny droplets through jets in the printer head (hence the name). Inkjets are commonly cheaper and come ready to print in color. Most of the printers designed for printing photos are inkjets since they produce better images than more expensive laser printers.
Laser printers use powder toner instead of ink. They print faster and more efficiently than inkjet printers when printing text, and despite higher initial costs, they produce more pages of text for less money in most cases. If you commonly print out longer documents that are not image heavy, a laser printer may be a better investment in the long term.
Buying expensive name-brand ink. One way to save more money is to be smarter about what ink or toner you feed your printer. Get the most out of your printer when you use compatible ink cartridges; the same print results, for a fraction of the price–between 30 and 60 percent less at the cash register.
When you are shopping for a new printer, make special note of what type of ink cartridges–or refilling options–are available. Different printers will have different types of alternatives available. Some ink cartridges are designed to be easily refilled with a refilling kit, which not only can save you money, but acts as a great fail-safe when your printer runs out of ink at just the wrong time.
Not shopping for accessories. Buying home office supplies online saves you more than just a trip to the store. Online retailers have lower overhead costs and offer better deals than most brick and mortar chain stores. In many cases, you can also get compatible printer supplies, that aren’t carried in a lot of stores like Staples and OfficeMax all delivered to your door.
Supplies such as USB cords, connectors, and other one-off requirements for your printer, are often considerably more more expensive if you buy them in stores than online, either because the product is seen as an upsell, an afterthought, or emergency necessity for a customer by the seller. Anyone who has found themselves without a phone charger in a pinch knows all about this.
At the end of the day, a little research into the next printer you buy can save you a whole lot of money in the long run. Look beyond fancy features and shop around for more affordable alternatives. Your wallet will thank you later.