In the office as well as at home, the printer belongs to the classic office utensils and is often used. Depending on the type, they can be used for printing text, pictures and graphics. In order to offer the right printer for every need, different types of devices have been established in recent years. Here you can read about which ones they are, what you need to pay attention to when buying them and which quality features are distinguished.

What types of printers are there?

Depending on what you mainly use your printer for, there are different types of devices. They differ in features, functions and extras. Today, a distinction is mainly made between these types of printers:

  • Colour laser printers: The colour laser printers have generous toners, which enable fast colour printing. Of course, they can also be used only for printing documents and are therefore often part of normal office equipment. In total, these models include four image drums for black, cyan, yellow and magenta.
  • Laser printer black and white: The laser printer for black and white is one of the classic offers for the office. It works at a very high print speed, which is why it is particularly popular in offices and also offers high print quality. Compared to the models that work with ink, the laser printers achieve significantly lower consumption costs.
  • Inkjet printers: Inkjet printers are the classics for home use. They are inexpensive to buy and easy to use. In terms of speed, they lag far behind laser printers, as the cartridge moves and prints line by line with the print head. They are offered with an ink cartridge for black and white and four-colour ink tanks.
  • Multifunction printers: If a printer in the office is not enough and you need other devices such as a scanner and fax, multifunction printers are a good choice. They usually have four functions and can print, copy, scan and fax. The devices are ideal for small workplaces in particular, as they take up very little space.
  • Photo printers: A very good resolution and excellent colour intensity make photo printers the perfect choice for all those who like to print their photos themselves. The photo printers are much more compact than classic printers. They can also handle thicker photo paper without any problems. Many photo printers can be easily connected to mobile devices, making photo printing easy.
  • Label printers: Also known as label printers, label printers are mainly used in companies and offices. They are used to print various label formats and provide significant time savings. Depending on the model, they print black and white or in colour.

Which printer is best suited for whom?

There are many areas where printers are indispensable today. Which printer is best suited for the different areas of application depends on the requirements:

  • If you're looking for a practical solution for your home that saves space but still gives you everything you need, multifunction printers are ideal. With them you can scan, print, fax and usually also copy very conveniently.
  • If you mainly print documents and also need larger quantities, laser printers are ideal. They have low printing costs and work twice as fast as an inkjet printer.
  • Ink-jet printers are inexpensive to purchase and versatile. With them you can print pictures at home without any problems. Despite the low printing speed and comparatively high costs, inkjet printers are ideal for private use.

If you want to print photos mainly by yourself, a good photo printer is ideal. It is designed for this area of application and offers a significantly higher print quality.

Buying guide: What you should pay attention to when buying a printer

HP, Epson, Canon, Brother and Co: The choice of printer brands is huge. Of course, every manufacturer tries to provide his series with special extras and features. However, this is exactly what makes the choice more difficult for you as a user. There are different criteria that you should consider when making your purchase decision.

Area of application

The first point to consider when buying a printer is the application area. That is:

  • Where do you use the printer?
  • What do you print?
  • Do you print mainly in black and white or colour?
  • How much stress is the printer subjected to?

The application area is decisive for the choice of the printer type. For example, inkjet printers are not suitable for office applications because of the significantly lower printing speed. You should also consider in advance what exactly you expect and which functions you want to use.

Printer type

The sooner you decide on a printer type, the more clearly you narrow down the choice and the easier it will be for you to decide on a model in the end. Keep your applications in mind when choosing a printer. If you mainly print text documents and sometimes need to print large quantities, laser printers are ideal. Although the purchase price is a little higher, they benefit from low operating costs.

If you also need the printer to print images once in a while, but can do very well with individual printouts, inkjet printers are usually sufficient. They are cheap to buy, but have one weakness: the operating costs are comparatively high due to the ink cartridges. The slow printing speed is hardly noticeable with single printouts.

For all other areas there are special printers.

Operating and printing costs

Operating costs are one of the points that often only come into focus when purchasing a printer after the purchase decision. But in fact, printers offer very different cost advantages and of course also disadvantages. While the equipment purchase is still manageable, the toner and ink are later on a significant factor. Don't be fooled by the pure costs for toner and ink, but always take a look at the capacities of the individual units. In this way you can print significantly more with a toner than with an ink cartridge.

Resolution

If you have looked at the description of a printer before, you will have come across the dpi specification. The abbreviation dpi stands for dots per inch and defines the resolution of the individual device. One inch is 2.54 cm. The dpi specification is made up of two numbers that define the horizontal and vertical resolution of the print files.

The different types and models of printers differ greatly, especially in terms of resolution. Laser printers have an average resolution of 600x600 dpi. This resolution is also completely sufficient for text documents. If you want to print generous graphics with the laser printer, you should switch to 1200 x 1200 dpi.

Inkjet printers usually work with a much higher resolution, as they are also designed to print images. The standard here is 5760 x 1440 dpi. Be careful with models that have an outstandingly high dpi number. Usually this results from a computer calculation.

Quality

The print quality is mainly influenced by the following factors:

  • Resolution
  • Printer paper
  • Colour settings

A high-quality printout therefore depends not only on the dpi number but also on external factors. Especially the paper can have an enormous influence on the result. Thus, one should inform oneself in advance which paper thickness and surface the material used may have. With an inkjet printer, for example, a less smooth surface is recommended, as the ink will not adhere or be able to penetrate properly.

With paper thickness, on the other hand, a printer often offers the possibility of adjusting it individually. If you want to print invitation cards on thicker paper, this should not be a problem. Nevertheless, it should be considered that the paper thickness is also limited to a maximum with each printer. It is therefore recommended to always follow the recommendations of the manufacturer.

Depending on the paper, the colour setting should also always be adjusted accordingly. Depending on the printer, this can be done either by test print and manual adjustment or by automatic adjustment by the program itself. However, an automated device is usually very expensive and is more suitable for professional use. It should also not be disregarded that the colour representation on the screen can always deviate from the one on the print despite the appropriate settings.

Print speed

Especially if you use the printer frequently, you should always take a look at the printing speed. Inkjet printers are significantly slower than laser printers due to the way they work:

  • An inkjet printer takes four to nine seconds to print one sheet.
  • With a laser printer, you make a printout in 2.4 to 5 seconds, about half the time.

Additional features

If you not only want to print, but also use other functions, multifunction printers are ideal. You can use fax and scanner, for example. This is not limited to inkjet printers. Especially the Laserjet laser printers from HP can also fax.

These functional extras save you the purchase of additional devices. Another attractive extra is the ADF, the automatic document feeder. It is a great help especially for devices with integrated copiers, because a stack of documents is fed in automatically one by one.

Print types

When looking for a suitable printer, it is worth taking a look at the different types of printing a model offers. are possible:

  • Duplex printing: This function prints on both sides of a sheet. Duplex printing is not only particularly sustainable, but also saves a lot of time in everyday office life.
  • CD printing: Especially with inkjet printers, CD printing has become a special feature in recent years. This does not only mean the printing of labels. There are also the first models that can print the motifs directly onto the CD.
  • Different print formats: If you do not only want to produce A4 documents but also want to use other print formats, you have to compare the models accordingly. For large formats you will definitely need an A3 printer.

Functional extras

In recent years, manufacturers have come up with a number of ideas to set themselves apart from the competition, and many models today entice with functional extras. For example, there is the "Canon Facebook App Print" function, which allows you to print directly from Facebook on your smartphone. There are also models that can be integrated into the Google Cloud and can therefore be accessed on the move. For this purpose the models are equipped with Google Cloud Print.

Connection options

Another important criterion for purchase is the connection possibilities. Can you network a printer with other devices via USB or Bluetooth? Keep an eye on your personal needs here again. The USB port is required for the uncomplicated connection of the printer to the PC. If there is a network connection, integration into the WLAN network of the house is possible so that several users can work with one device.

Bluetooth has become standard on more and more printers and is particularly popular when it comes to printing documents or pictures from a smartphone. For some time now, the NFC function has been available in printers. This is mainly used in commercial applications and makes it easier for employees to access the printer quickly.

Wireless printing with Wi-Fi, Airprint and WLAN

More and more users now attach great importance to the fact that they can print wirelessly. In everyday life, this creates above all a significantly higher level of convenience, because the printer does not have to be connected to the device via a cable. A distinction is made here between three wireless connection options:

  • WLAN: If printers are WLAN-capable, they can be integrated into your WLAN network in a few simple steps. They can then be controlled from various terminal devices. The print jobs are sent via the WLAN network.
  • Airprint: In order to use the printer wirelessly in combination with Apple devices, you must make sure that your device is Airprint-capable. The printer is also networked with other devices via WLAN so that you can print easily and simply. No special drivers need to be installed.
  • Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi-capable printers are suitable for WLAN networks that have a special certificate. Today, Wi-Fi is one of the most widely used WLAN technologies in the world. One of the reasons for this is the high security standard.

Accessories for the printer: What you really need

When your printer is shipped, it usually comes with a number of accessories that promise to make your printer more convenient and functional. In fact, the printer is one of those devices that require only a few accessories for use. The most important printer accessories are of course ink cartridges and toner. Usually, each print is delivered with starting material, so that you can start the first print immediately after connecting it.

However, the cartridges and toner supplied have a catch: they are not completely filled. Usually you can only print up to 100 pages with them. After that you will need new cartridges or toner. If you want to print a lot directly, you should order these consumables together with the printer.

Most printers are not supplied with paper. Only a few manufacturers make an exception to this rule and if they do, it is usually paper of this brand to encourage you to buy permanently. Nowadays, printers are usually only delivered with a power cable.

A USB cable is only very rarely included in the offer and is therefore one of the most important accessories. Always adjust the length of the USB cable to your personal needs so that you can ensure a smooth connection.