This post was originally published in the April, 2017 edition of the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.
It used to be quite an investment to buy a new printer to go with your new computer setup. But printers have dropped tremendously in price and become disposable items with the replacement ink sometimes costing more than the printer itself.
Gone are the days of the slow dot matrix printers. Today, we get to choose between inkjet and laser printers. Laser printers are higher quality, but unless you are a professional business, an inkjet will fulfill all of your daily needs, including printing photos for personal use.
I like the all-in-one printers that include printer, scanner and copier options in one device. I also like the document feeder as opposed to only having a flatbed to lay down an image or document on for scanning, copying or faxing.
The faxing function is not one I truly worry about, but it is generally included if there is a scanning option.
If you really need to fax, and it is rare that you do these days, you can use an online service. I use faxZERO.com and it is a simple service. You scan in your own document and then the service faxes it for you; no need to use a separate phone line or have a traditional phone line for faxing at all. That specific service is free for faxes up to three pages plus a cover sheet and only $1.99 for faxes that are larger than that.
Personally, I have always been fond of Hewlett Packard printers. My recent go-to printer for clients has been a sub-$100 all-in-one inkjet, the HP Officejet 4650. It is a basic printer with a monochrome screen, but being well under $100, it is definitely a disposable that will at least last a couple of years.
The ink, for a two-pack of black and color, is about half the price of the printer, but that still isn’t much money. The printer also works with both Mac and Windows PCs, so it is an easy choice for most people.
The printer is also capable of a wireless connection with your computer, so there is no need for wires between the printer and your computer. Additionally, it can also print wirelessly from your Android or Apple mobile devices, which is a nice little bonus.
If you haven’t printed from your mobile devices like your smartphone or tablet, it is a nice treat to not have to open up your laptop or boot up your desktop just to quickly print out a PDF receipt or email.
If you are in the market for a printer, think about how you will use it and how often you realistically print and then consider an inexpensive option.
Paul Burnstein is a tech handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found at gadgetguymn.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.