Laser Printer Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Laser Printer

Laser printers enable you to quickly print documents with high quality. They are capable of printing at anywhere from eight to 35 pages per minute -and the printouts won't smear. Advanced models also copy, fax and scan. You can learn how to buy a laser printer by considering the factors in this laser printer Guide.

>> Why type of documents will you print?

The type of documents you plan to print will influence your choice of laser printer. Some laser printers offer only black-and-white printing, while others can also print in color. If you print primarily text-only documents, a black-and-white laser printer should suffice. If you print graphics, you might want a laser color printer. If, however, you plan to print photos frequently, consider a specialized photo printer in addition to your computer printer.

>> Document resolution

Resolution, in simple terms, is how many small dots of toner powder a laser printer can place in one square inch. This number, always shown as dots per inch (dpi), is an important aspect of how to buy a laser printer. The higher the number, the sharper your print images will be. Your resolution needs depend on the primary type of printing you will do. Images need as much resolution as possible, while text is often readable at 300 dpi for drafts and very sharp at 600 dpi for final versions.

>> Printing speed

Speed is one of the primary laser printer advantages, so look at the pages per minute (ppm) number as you shop laser printers. If your laser printer is for a busy office, look for a printer with a higher speed, such as the 24-35 ppm range. If the printer's for your home office, a printer in the 18-24 ppm range might suit your needs.

When you learn how to buy a laser printer, keep in mind the factors that affect from printer's speed rating:

• The higher the resolution at which you print, the slower the printing speed. Manufacturer speed ratings are always based on a printer's lowest resolution unless stated otherwise.
• Black-and-white documents print faster than color documents. Manufacturer printer speed ratings are always based on black-and-white documents unless stated otherwise.
• Images print more slowly than text. Manufacturer printer speed ratings are always based on a document without images unless stated otherwise.

The other speed consideration is how much memory a laser printer has. Top-rated laser printers contain extra memory, either built-in or on memory cards, that stores information for a print job. If you typically print many documents simultaneously, large documents or documents containing a lot of graphics, a laser printer with more memory can handle these jobs more quickly. Too little memory for your needs will result in extended waiting time for print jobs.>> How many types of paper do you use?

As you determine which laser printer to buy, you should consider which type of paper you print on. Not all types of laser printers can handle all types of paper. Many laser printers can print directly on envelopes, for example, but if you print a lot of envelopes, a printer with a dedicated envelope tray or a printer compatible with an envelope feeder attachment is probably the best printer to buy. If your print jobs require specific sizes of paper besides 8.5" x 11", make sure that either your printer's paper tray can adjust to handle those sizes or that it has dedicated trays for those sizes.

Monthly printing volume is another important factor in how to buy a laser printer. Manufacturers typically specify a printer's duty cycle, which is the maximum number of pages the printer is designed to handle on a monthly basis. Exceeding this number can result in your laser printer's parts prematurely wearing down and requiring replacement. If you typically print a lot of documents each month, you'll want a laser printer with a high duty cycle.

>> How will you connect computers to your laser printer?

When performing a laser printer comparison, you'll want to look at how you can connect computers to the printer. You can establish either a wired or a wireless connection between a computer and a laser printer. All laser printers have at least one USB or Ethernet port for a wired connection. Many laser printers offer a wireless connection -through wireless network, infrared, Wi-Fi and even cloud-based connections.

>> How many computers do you plan to connect to your laser printer?

If it's only one, then a wired connection should be fine. You may find a wireless connection useful, however, if you want to print from a computer in a room other than where the printer is located. A wireless connection is also useful if you want multiple computers to use the same printer. If you already have a wireless router, you're all set to connect wirelessly to your printer.

>> Do you need additional functions?
Like inkjet printers, there are some multi-function laser printers that can also copy, scan and fax. If you typically use these functions, it might be worthwhile to invest in a laser printer that can replace these other dedicated devices.
>> Supplies and accessories

The major ongoing expenses for any laser printer is replacement or refilling of toner cartridges. Compare the prices and reputation for quality of these items among the various types of laser printers you evaluate. Also consider whether a laser printer handles any specialty papers for photos or other uses. Popular accessories for laser printers are high-capacity sheet trays and toner cartridges, envelope feeders, USB cables and other important computer accessories and peripherals. Laser printers are the quiet workhorses of high-performance computer systems. Durable and fast, they can provide many years of high-quality service. Knowing how to buy a laser printer depends on what printer features are important to you and understanding your printing needs. With the information in this laser printer buyers' guide, you can decide on the best laser printer to buy for you.


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