As great as it is to have everything digitized these days, there will still be times when you need to print something out for your small business. You can store all your files on your computer (hey, it requires much less space than a bunch of paper files in a filing cabinet) and you can email a document (instead of taking the time to deliver a hard copy to them), but printed material is still a necessity of the business world no matter how prevalent digital becomes.
The only problem? Maybe your small business has been trying to operate completely digitally for years now. And it isn’t working. You need to buy a printer.
You just don’t know exactly what kind of printer you want.
So, let’s break this down. When you’re choosing your printer, there are many reputable brands on the market — Canon, HP, Brother, Dell, Lexmark, and so on — but not all of them are as easily serviceable if something goes wrong. For example, Brother printers tend to be very difficult to service, and you’ll be forced to throw it out as soon as you start having problems. On the other hand, HP printers are easy for a professional to fix if something goes haywire.
Of course, these differences are usually reflected in the price of the printer. While a printer is on the less expensive side, it might need to be replaced sooner rather than later. On the other hand, a slightly more expensive printer might last you much longer, with only service fees along the way. Short-term and long-term pricing can also come into play with the cost of ink and/or toner.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you choose a printer:
Do you want a color printer, or just a black-and-white printer?
Color is nice to have, but unless you have a need for color documents, a black-and-white printer could serve you just as well. Why pay extra for color ink if you don’t need it?
How crisp and clear does your print job need to be?
Will your documents be used only internally? If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter if the print job isn’t the best you’ve ever seen. However, if you need to impress clients or the public, you may want a printer that does a much sharper job (especially if you’re printing graphics).
How much volume are you printing?
If you’re just printing out a page or two here and there, slow speed won’t be a huge issue. If you have lengthy documents you need to print out in bulk, then you want a much faster printer that can handle that kind of load without taking half your afternoon. Along those same lines, if you print very infrequently (once a month or less), you should opt for a laser printer because inkjets can dry out and clog.
Do you want copy and scanning capabilities?
A basic printer will just make hard copies of digital files from your computer, but if you also need to make digital files of documents you have in hard copies, then you may want copy and scan capabilities with your printer.
Inkjet vs. Laser — Which is Better?
These two types of printing each have their pros and cons. Here’s what you can expect from each one.
An inkjet printer is great not only for documents but also for photo-quality presentation materials (such as brochures, pamphlets, flyers, and so forth). Your images will be clear and the graphics will pop off the page. An inkjet printer is usually less expensive, but it could be more expensive in the long term because inkjet cartridges are expensive. Inkjet printers are not great for high-volume print jobs because they print so slowly. Plus they are much more expensive per page.
A laser printer is going to be more expensive initially, but because they are so durable, you can expect your laser printer to last you for many years. Laser toner might be more expensive per unit than ink cartridges, but they are considerably less expensive per page. Unfortunately, if you have to print on many different types of paper, a laser printer is not the ideal option — it can print only on standard printing paper and is unable to print on papers of many different sizes, textures, etc.