Choosing the right printer is not as simple as it first appears. Taking your time to research the right printer for your situation will save you money in the long run as well as countless one way arguments with your machine.

Where do you start; you head to the local computer shop only to find there are Inkjets, mono-lasers, all-in-one colour multi-functions, non-networkable inkjets, portable printers and that’s even before you start to look at the ppm (pages per minute), fpt (first print out time), & even the number of pages per ink cartridge.

Most printers sell below manufacturing cost- why do they do this? There must be a catch? Of course there is – ink cartridges. Toner cartridges are right up there in cost with liquid gold and Dom Perignon.

Make sure you find out how many printed pages each cartridge will do, and importantly, the percentage of ink used per page. Having a cartridge guaranteed for 1,000 pages at 7% as opposed to 700 pages at 9% will greatly affect your costs.

This might not be so important for home users, but come end of year reporting time and that $100 machine will be costing you more than your car to keep in the office.

These days with faxes being used less and less, every office needs a scanner. All in one multi-functions are a great space saving solution. For the most part they print good quality black & white, very passable colour, scan well and send faxes easily. Keep in mind the vast majority scan slightly smaller than A4- this might be fine for contracts, business cards etc but if you need to scan things that are exactly A4 they may miss the mark. Always look at the full tech sheets for exact measurements. Another good way to is to make sure the cover on the all-in-one is removable so that when you get larger sized pages you can still use scan them in properly.

If you are a typical small business then you might be printing reports, accounts, invoices, documents, and pdfs. In these situations using a mono-laser printer can be a good option. Mono-lasers only print black, thereby only having one cartridge. This can save you hundreds of dollars every few months, The limitations of mono-lasers are the fact that when you need to print colour you will need to pop off to the local printer.

If your office has the room I would advise having a mono-laser for all the large scale standard printing jobs needed alongside an all-in-one colour printer for times when colour printing/ scanning is necessary. One that prints double sided would be even better.

If space is at a premium and you really need to print colour regularly then a colour laser would be a good option. There is a bewildering amount of laser printers out there. Colour lasers range in price from $250- $4,000. Whether it’s the CDN 5670 or the CDN 5678, the differences can be negligible in appearance- but appearances can be deceptive. The Laser printer on special for $600 can be a great investment but you need to realise that inserting a black, magenta, yellow, blue and drum cartridge might not give you much change from $1,000.

Now you can see why checking the printed page range is so important.

If you are in graphics or photography you probably need a better quality printer. These machines can get mighty expensive- and in my opinion probably not necessary. If you are a big design house then it will be worth the investment, but a small business owner- think twice.

What you see on the screen is never what you see when you print out. It’s important to be able to print a reasonably good output in the office but it will never be as good as the professional print shops. If you, like me, design business cards and logos it is far cheaper to send the file to a professional printer and get some colour mock ups printed. Only then can you tell the ultimate quality.- and its going to be cheaper for you in the long run.

Setting up a wireless printer now will future proof your office for a few more years. How many more devices do we have now than three years ago. iphones, iPads, Androids, eReaders – they have come out of nowhere to be everywhere in under 24 months. Who knows where the next few years will take us. One thing is sure connectivity is vital.

If you have a business where printing is very time driven (such as a retail outlet), keeping an eye out for the first print out time will be vital. Leaving your client waiting 30 seconds before their invoice print out is not professional enough.

A rough guide to what a small business may need:

Cost of cartridges
First Print Out Time
Wireless – Networkable
Scanning Surface Size
Double Sided Printing for reports
Pages per minute
Low Energy Consumption
Estimated number of Pages per cartridge
  • If you print a lot make sure the printer handles double sided printing.
  • Is the printer you choose wireless- if its not make sure it can be upgraded.
  • What is the Energy Rating of your printer- whether or not you’re an environmentalist is not important; power costs are significant.
  • Always look at the pages per cartridge as well as the % of the paper that the ink has been tested on.
  • Find out the exact dimensions of the scanning surface
Resources - 28 Mar 2011 - by Rob Jennings

About Rob Jennings

When he found himself embroiled in a conversation with someone talking about their ‘customer-centric core competencies’ he realised it was time to create a Web Design Agency that was less about self promoting buzz-words and more about people and giving them the tools to understand the web.

The idea behind We Push Buttons was to create an environment where business owners can learn about building their organisation, whether it be with an outstanding website, SEO or any other marketing ideas. Coming from the art industry and online retail background he knows first hand the needs of growing a business in a tough environment.