Printer features and characteristics
Compatibility: Some printers can handle both Windows and Mac
operating systems. Before you even begin your search,
you'll have to make sure that it is compatible with your
computer setup. Plus, you'll need to check if your computer has a
serial, parallel (PC compatibles only), USB, or network interface — the
connection that allows signals to be sent from the computer to the printer and
back. Check for compatibility of printer's software, which must be installed on your computer.
Resolution and output Quality: A printer's resolution predominately determines its print quality. Resolution
refers to the number of dots per inch that appear on the page--usually
represented as a horizontal and vertical measurement (e.g. 600 x 300 dpi).
Depending on the technology of printing, a printer's resolution should be interpreted differently. All color
printers create different colors by mixing cyan, magenta, and yellow in various
combinations. One way to mix colors is called dithering. In this process, dots
of cyan, magenta and yellow are placed close together to create the effect of a
given color. Dithering creates illusion of a full color spectrum and produces a halftoned image. In contrast, continuous tone printing lays dots with
varying amounts of cyan, magenta, and yellow on top of one another to form a dot
of the appropriate color. It can create
very good-looking output at much lower resolutions. In fact, most continuous
tone printers print at just 300 dpi. For edge
enhancement technology the space between dots on the edges of text, lines,
and solid areas will be filled in. This can have the same visual effect as
doubling the resolution. Most
printer vendors implement their own techniques for smoothing curves and
enhancing resolutions through software algorithms. Keep in mind that although some printers go as high as 1200 x 1200 dpi,
you're not likely to notice any difference in quality with common print jobs
once you go above 600 x 600 dpi resolution.
In dot matrix models, resolution refers to the number of characters per inch (cpi), 10, 12, or 15 cpi
are the most common resolutions for these printers.
Monthly duty cycle: The number of pages a printer can produce in a
month without driving up repair costs.
Printer Speed: The speed depends on
the technology of printing, the size of the
document, quality of the paper used, and the
configuration of the PC. Printers also have a speed rating, indicated by the
number of pages per minute (ppm). The higher the number, the faster the printer.
Actual speed may be different based on the amount of graphics on each
page. Because color images need more ink, they take longer to print than black and
white images. If a
printer is particularly slow its speed is measured in minutes per page (mpp).
Max Paper Width: This is the widest piece of paper that can be
fed into the printer. Although most printers can print on paper 8.5" wide, some
allows to use even wider paper for posters and other printouts.
Zoom Copy range: The zoom feature allows you to enlarge and reduce
copies. This is useful when you need
only part of a piece of paper or when
you’re going from one size paper to another.
Paper and ink capacity: Check out the capacities for the consumables and
replaced parts your printer uses. Then you'll know how often you'll need to change ink or toner
cartridges or add paper. Keep in mind, that color printers have a different cartridge for each color
and the cartridges will rarely run out at the same time.
Paper handling: The Printer has to accommodate all of the paper sizes
and types you'll be using. If you need to print on heavy papers, make sure the
printer is designed to handle the heaviest paper you use. The same for
transparencies, card stock, and special glossy photo paper. Consider whether you
need duplexing capabilities (the ability to print on both sides of each page). In addition to standard 8.5-by-11-inch
paper, you'll probably want to print envelopes from time to time.
If you'll be switching between different kinds of papers on a regular basis,
consider getting a printer with multiple paper drawers, preferably one that
supports the ability to select the right paper size or type for each of your
print jobs automatically. Multiple output trays, collators, and automatic
staplers are also worth considering for an office environment. Laser printers generally cannot
handle the larger, "Super A" pages to produce a full bleed, although most
thermal wax and dye sublimation models offer this feature. Far fewer printers are capable of printing on 11x17 inch, ledger-sized
sheets. Similarly for ledger bleeds, you will need a printer capable of printing
on the slightly larger "Super B" paper. Many models are also equipped to print on rolls of glossy paper or
transparency film. These are often found with dye sublimation and thermal wax
Intelligent ink-management system features four separate ink tanks -
one for each color. When one color runs out, you replace just that tank rather
than the entire cartridge, helping you eliminate ink waste. The Canon Think Tank
System also features a unique low-ink sensor that alerts you with an on-screen
message when ink levels are low. So you can drop in a new tank before running
out of ink unexpectedly in the middle of your print job.
Sound Emission: The less the better. Best printers have noise
level less than 40dB. Dot matrix printers can be quite noisy, so you may want to consider
purchasing an optional stand or acoustical cover to lessen the sound.
Energy Star labeled printers can cut a
printer's electricity use by over 65%. These printers automatically power down to less than
10 to 100 watts, depending on the number of pages per minute produced and
printer type (i.e., standard-sized, color, large/wide-format, and impact). This
automatic "power-down" feature cuts the printer's electricity use. Using the
power management feature means your printer will produce less heat. This
contributes to a cooler and more comfortable work space, and reduces
air-conditioning costs. By generating less heat, your printer may last longer
and be more reliable.