Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Printers: Laserjet, Inkjet and Dot Matrix

I wanted to put a review on all the three type of printers - Laserjet, Inkjet and Dot Matrix, but was not able to find an appropriate place on MS as I found two categories separately. one as ''Dot Matrix Vs. Inkjet Printers'' and another as ''Inkjet Printers Vs. Laserjet Printers''. 

So decided to put this review under this category. In plain terms Printer is a separate (external) output device that is an add-on peripheral of a PC and the selection of a printer depends on various factors of a person like requirement, quality of print, budget, volume of prints required on regular basis. It connects to an interface or a port on the motherboard of your PC. A Printer converts text and graphics on a paper generally known as a hard copy (A soft copy means the same text and graphics in a floppy, CD or hard disk of the PC). Various uses of printers include official correspondence, printing of photographs, letters etc.

Types of printers:

Laserjet: The technology used in these printers is same as is used in photocopiers. This class of printers produces high quality prints at a very high speed too. Cost wise they are quite expensive but then the recurring cost of cartridge is very low. Normally black and white A-4 printers are used but then you have A-3 and color Laser printers also available in the market. Main players are HP, LG, Epson etc. The prices of Laser printers have come down drastically. Earlier an entry level laser printer used to cost around 50k which now costs around 11k.

Inkjet: This is the most popular lot. These printers function on the basis of print heads that eject dots of colored or black ink on the paper to create an image of text or graphics. They are quite inexpensive to buy but the recurring cost is quite high on cartridges. There are printers which will cost you around 2.5k and the two cartridges cost will be higher or equivalent to the initial cost of the printer. For high volumes they are not recommended.

Dot Matrix: This is the oldest family of printers used mainly in industries or places where multiple and/or continuous stationery printing is required. The device prints on the basis of a set of pins and a ribbon. Normally these printers are either 8 pin or 24 pin. Number of pins decides the quality of print. The two size variants are 80 column printers (supporting 10” by 12” stationery) and 124 or 136 column printers (supporting 15” by 12” stationery and 10 x 12 also). Out of the all types of printers the quality of this class of printers is poorest as compared to Laserjet or Inkjet printer. Mostly these printers are used for printing text like receipts, invoices, bills etc. as graphics will be in a very coarse form. They are normally quite slow, very noisy and low in quality as compared to Laserjets. The quality is measured in DPI or dots per inch. These are quite economical. Main players are Epson and Wipro. The big brother in this class Line Printer with lesser or no noise, very high speed and better quality of print. The quality is assessed in LPI or lines per inch. Line Printers are quite costly as they are having enhanced qualities.

Interface A Printer can connect to a PC either through Parallel port or USB. USB in any case will be faster than the parallel port printers. Although you have interface available in market to convert parallel port printer to connect to your USB on PC but then it is not recommended. Always prefer to buy a USB printer. There are network printers also for large companies where the printer sits on the network directly instead of hooking on to a PC.

Where to buy from Buy from the dealer nearest to your place if purchasing for home or SOHO. For a company if you are making bulk purchasing, talk to the manufacturer directly and let them decide the dealer for you. In any case manufacturer has to provide you the support during warranty period. In case of a single printer buy from local vendor, since he is the person who is going to support you when it is required.

What to check before buying:
Paper Capacity: There are very low cost inkjet printers available which do not support paper tray at all. In that case you have to paper one after the other manually. Imagine feeding paper manually and you will drop the idea of buying this printer. Check your needs of printing viz a viz the capacity of the paper tray that comes along with the printer having automatic sheet feeder capability. (Almost all laser and inkjet printers come with this feature). 

Also check if you need A-3 printings you need to buy an A-3 Inkjet (economical) or Laserjet (very costly).Operating System: If it is windows OS, there should be no problem because all printers come alongwith windows drivers (even windows itself contains most of the drivers so supports a large range of printers). But if you use any other OS like Linux then you need to check the support before you buy the printer else configuring it will be a major problem. 
Other Requirements: Buy the printer according to your need you’re you are going to printer just 5-10 pages a month there is no point in buying a laser printer, but if you plan to print 100 or above pages per day, you definitely require a laserjet. Then also check the quality of print you require. If you are not going to print high quality photographs then you should not go for a very costly and high quality laser printer. Check if you need black prints or color prints. 

If you can compromise with color and want quick and good quality prints, go for a laser as you will be happy to spend little money as recurring cost later. You have multifunction printers available in the market today from many manufacturers having the capability of Fax, Scan, Print etc. Check before you buy whether you are going to use atleast 70% of the features regularly else it will be a waste. High resolution printers will fetch high amount of money in initial buying but will get you a very fine quality of print. 

Check the speed of the printer very carefully at the dealer place during demo before you zero down on a printer. Also check the number of cartridges required, size of cartridges, number of pages it will give you, cost of each cartridge etc. if you are planning to buy an Inkjet or Laserjet. One more important factor to check before buying a printer is to check its failure history in the market, from your friends, from a vendor, even from the manufacturer directly.

Cool tips Buy from a genuine dealer who can support you afterwards as failures in printers occur higher than in PCs. Check out the warranty period. Some rock bottom priced inkjet printers don't come with ink cartridges, beware, the cartridges cost will be higher than the cost of this printer. Check out……….. Check the life of cartridges (by knowing the volume of ink it contains). Don’t just compare cartridges on price, check price vs. ink volume.


Sweet Fairy said...

Great post. Can i use any laser printer for Plastic card printing purpose?

Nadia Yaseen said...

Great blog. You explained very is understandable for anyone .I also enhance my knowledge a lot.Thank you.Plastic cards