No home office or small business is complete without a printer, but there is plenty you should know and understand before heading out to buy or update one.
Determine what you need
There are two main categories of printers on the market suitable for personal use: inkjets, which shoot tiny droplets of ink onto paper to make an image or text, and lasers, a step up all things being equal, in terms of quality, price and speed. Impact or dot matrix printers are still on the market, but their main advantage – that they can print on multiple-copy paper – makes them a viable option for business only.
If you’re printing volume is relatively low, head for an inkjet printer. These offer space for both black and colour cartridges, making them a budget choice for colour. Inkjets are able to print colour photographs in varying degrees of quality. Start with something like the Canon Jet BJC 1000SP for Bt2,900 from Hardware House. It prints at resolution 720x360dpi and for monochrome text prints at 4bwppm [black and white pages per minute]. You can print normal colour text and graphics using the cartridges the printer comes with, but for around Bt1,000 you can buy a six-colour cartridge which prints better quality photos at 120 seconds per page. The Epson Stylus Colour 480 at Bt2,950 from Data IT is another good starter model, printing at 720x720dpi and 4bwppm. It takes 245 seconds to print a fine photo using its normal cartridge – six-colour cartridges are available only with the Epson Photo series. Hewlett Packard’s basic model is the HP630C, printing at 600dpi x300dpi and 5 bwppm. Photo cartridge is extra. Hardware House sells it for Bt3,650.
As the speed and resolution of the printers improves, so does the price. Mid-range models include the Canon BJC3000 (720dpi, 9bwppm) for Bt6,350 from Hardware House, and the Epson Stylus Colour 880 (2880x720dpi, 12bwppm) for Bt10,750, from Data IT. The Epson range steps up to photo quality (six-cartridge colour) with the Epson Stylus Photo 720 (1440dpi, 4 bwppm) at Bt8,560 from CSC. Keen digital photographers should check out the Stylus Photo 875DC, which has a built in PC card slot into which you can put your digital camera memory card. You can’t alter the photo using the printer software, but you can view the photo on your computer screen. It prints at 1440 x720 dpi and takes 110 seconds to print a fine quality A4 page. IT City sells them for Bt16,400.
Graphic artists might head for printers with an A3 printing capability, such as the Canon BJC6500 (1440x720dpi, 9bwppm) for Bt16,350 from Data IT, or the HP1220C (2400dpi, 11bwppm) for Bt19,500 from IT City. Epson Stylus Photo 2000P (1440x720dpi) is an upper end printer, taking 470 seconds to print an A4 photo, or 850 seconds for an A3 photo. Available from IT City for Bt42,690.
All-in-one printers, scanners, copiers and faxes can be a cost-saving combination. The Stylus Scan 2500 scans and copies only (1440×720 dpi, 6ppmbw) and is available from CSC for Bt21,400. The HP Officejet G55 prints, scans, copies and faxes (600dpi, 11bwppm). It goes for Bt31,850 from IT City. Brother has two all-in-ones, the MFC7160 and MFC 9200. The former allows for single-page feeds only, while the latter features a flatbed, allowing books and magazines to be scanned and copied. They retail for Bt29,400 and Bt34,026 from CSC.
For a basic monochrome laser printer start with the Brother HL-1240 (600x600dpi, 12bwppm) for Bt15,500, or the finer resolution Epson EPL 5800 (1200 dpi, 10ppm) and HPLaserjet 2100 (1200dpi, 10ppm), both from IT City, Bt25,145 and Bt27,900 respectively.
As with inkjets, printing on A3 paper adds to the price. Try the Epson EPL 2010 (1200dpi class, 20 page/min A4 or 10 page/min A3) for Bt53,500 from CSC.
Color lasers are expensive, but the best colour lasers can print at near photo quality. Models falling within this group include the Brother HL2400C for Bt100,500 from Data IT (16 bwppm, 2400dpi), the HPColour Laser 4550 (2400dpi, 16bwppm) for Bt102,900 from IT City or the Epson Aculaser C8500 for Bt242,890 (9600x600dpi, 26bwppm) from CSC.