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Choosing a Laser Printer – How to Make an Informed Choice


  Choosing_a_Laser_Printer
                    

Given the confusing array of features and options available, consider carefully what aspects are most important to you.
Write down the essential features required and use them to narrow down the choice of printers.
Don’t be side tracked by expensive flashy gimmicks - you will only end up paying for features that will never be used. 

Below are some questions you should bear in mind when buying a laser printer
.  


Toner Cartridge

Question_Mark  Is cheapest best ?
The cheapest laser printer may not necessarily be the cheapest one to run and this depends largely on print volume. It is essential to determine your expected monthly print volume, as the cost/number of pages the cartridge and other consumables last is of 
critical importance.

Example:

PRINTER      COST OF PRINTER     COST OF TONER
     A             £200          £400
     B           £400                     £200

Typically, cheaper models need to have their cartridges replaced more frequently. In the example above, assuming reasonable print volumes per month, Printer B would definitely be the wisest choice. The number of pages printable from a cartridge varies considerably and depends on make/model and price of the printer. Low end machines often print 1000+ pages whereas high end machines can print in the 10,000’s. 

Question_Mark  Does the cartridge come as a single combined unit which includes the drum or as separate components?
Whilst it's convenient to replace/dispose of a combined unit, separate units offer greater flexibility and lower operating costs. Why? Because the various components of a combined unit wear out at different rates i.e.toner will deplete way before the life cycle of the drum is reached.

Question_Mark  Are the cartridges easy to source/ buy and simple to install?

Print Speed

Question_Mark  What work do you intend to do with your laser printer?
High volume work means that print speed is important. Speeds above 20 ppm (pages per minute) are now common but remember:

•  A3 pages take longer than A4 to print
e.g. AcuLaser EPL-N2550  17 ppm (A3)  / 30 ppm (A4)  
•  Colour printing is often slower than monochrome
e.g. Kyocera FS-C8500DN  A3 printing: 25 ppm colour 'v' 28 ppm monochrome  /   A4 printing: 50 ppm colour 'v' 55 ppm monochrome     

Question_Mark  If speed is crucial, consider the following: How long is the wait time between prints? 

Question_Mark  Do you require a duplex capable laser printer? The ability to be able to print both sides of the paper can reduce paper usage and tray filling time by 50% but will decrease overall print speed because the path the paper takes is increased by the addition of the duplex unit. 

Print Resolution

Question_Mark  Do you understand the terminology?
Laser printer resolution dpi (dots per inch) is often cited as a distinguishing feature of laser printers. The range of 300 dpi to 1200 dpi depends on make/model and how long ago it was produced but be aware that figures quoted may be stated in marketing terminology such as ‘effective output’.

e.g. '1,200 dpi effective output' = 600x600x2 dpi   or
      
'9,600 dpi printing quality with multibit technology' = 600x600 dpi multi-bit technology e.g. FS-C8500DN

Question_Mark  Higher dpi comes at a cost, do you actually require it for the work you will be undertaking?
If you intend only to produce text documents, a 600x600 dpi  rather than a 1200x1200 dpi resolution printer is usually sufficient.

Networking

Question_Mark  How easy are the printers to install, configure and connect to your computer system?
Question_Mark  Does it have network provision as this allows sharing of the printer with others which can save on the cost of purchasing additional printers? Note that some printers can only be connected to a single computer. Also, different laser printers have different wait times when networked. 


Supported Media
 

Question_Mark  Does your printer handle all the types and sizes of paper you require?
 

Other Aspects to Consider

Set aside some time to check out reviews and ask questions in forums. Bear in mind that the advice offered might be ill informed or biased but proceed by aiming to narrow down your choices through asking increasingly specific questions. Reliability varies between manufacturers and even within models in a series, so do ask about this issue as ultimately, downtime means loss of productivity and money. Once you have bought and had time to try out your printer, remember to add your own feedback to assist future potential buyers.

Do side by side comparisons of the manufacturers' specifications and, if possible, visit a store to see the printers up close and in action.

Always shop around for the best deal as prices can vary considerabl
y and remember to compare warranties and service contracts.


Alternatives to Buying a New Laser Printe
r

Auctions are a great way to find a bargain. Take time to have a good look around and get a feel of the auction process, the range of laser printers available and average prices. Having decided the type of printer and features you require, set a sensible maximum price you are willing to go to and stick to it. Don't fall in to the trap of getting carried away and overbidding.

Alternatively, maybe consider buying a refurbished laser printer which has been rebuilt as good as new but sold at a significantly discounted price.
 

Finally...

Enjoy your new product. Having proceeded in a systematic and sensible manner, you will hopefully have bought the laser printer that best meets your requirements and budget.


Articles

1 History of Laser Printers
2 How do Laser Printers Work?
3 LED and LCD Printers - Are these Laser Printers?
4 Laser Printer and Photocopier - What is the Difference?
5 Laser Printer Paper - A3 Size and its Equivalent
6 Toner Cartridges - What are the Different Types?
7 Choosing a Laser Printer – How to Make an Informed Choice
8 Where to buy a Laser Printer and its Consumables - High Street v Internet
9 Basic Maintenance of Laser Printer
10 Who uses A3 Laser Printers?
11 A3 Laser Printers compared to A4 Laser Printers
12 A3 Colour Laser Printers compared to A3 Monochrome Laser Printers
13 A3 Colour Laser Printers compared to A3 Colour Inkjet Printers
14 Why does a Laser Printer cost more to buy than an Inkjet Printer?
15 Laser Printers: Health and Safety

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