Printer is an output peripheral device that produces hard copy of electronic data. This post will discuss what is a Printer, it’s types and interfaces available, Printer Buying Guide, best Printers of 2021, advantages and disadvantages.
What is a Printer
Printer is a hardware component and an output device that displays information stored in the computer on a physical medium such as paper. It is quite easy to use and helps the user in taking hard copies of the information that they want.
Fig. 1 – Introduction to Printers
Apart from offices, they are commonly found in every household. Whether you need it for your child’s homework or project work or if you want to print a copy of your ticket, Printer at home comes handy. Choosing the right one is essential based on user personas. User may be a student, home user, graphic designer or a business user.
Print Resolution becomes an important factor while buying or selecting. Print Resolution is called as ‘Pixel Density’ or simply the level of detail in a printed copy of an image. Higher the Resolution, better is the image. Dots per Inch (DPI) is the unit used to measure Print Resolution.
For Example, a 4″ x 6″ print requires the image resolution to be 640 x 480 pixels minimum. Similarly, for a 5″ x 7″ print, the image resolution should be 1024 x 768 pixels. 300 DPI is the best Resolution for posters, flyers and brochures.
Fig. 2 – Image Resolution (a) 300 DPI (b) 75 DPI
Computer Printer Interface
Printer Interface helps in the communication between the Printer and the computer. The most common types of Interfaces to access a Printer include:
- Small Computer System Interface (SCSI)
- Universal Serial Bus (USB)
- Wireless (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth)
Classification of Printer
They are broadly classified in to two types:
- Impact Printers
- Non-Impact Printers
They use the same mechanism as that of a Typewriter. The ink ribbon of Impact type comes in direct contact with the paper. The mechanism includes Print head with row of pins that prints pattern of dots in the form of images or characters. The other mechanism of Impact type includes print hammer that also produce a pattern of dots. some of the Impact Printers are:
- Dot Matrix Printers
- Daisy Wheel Printers
- Line Printers
Dot Matrix Printers
These are noisy and are not suitable for quiet environment. It prints one character at a time and the speed varies from 200 to 1000 or more characters per minute. It consists of print-head in which small pins are arranged in rows and columns, resembling a matrix. These pins strike against printing element or ink ribbon to produce print on paper.
Fig. 3 – Dot Matrix Printer
Daisy Wheel Printers
These resemble Typewriter and the Print wheel has characters that are arranged along the circumference of a circle. The characters arranged resembles the petals of Daisy flower and hence the name. Daisy Wheel is moved back and forth across a page and rotates with the help of print mechanism. This movement causes the appropriate letters to print onto the paper as the electric hammer strikes the character.
It is the fastest of all the Impact Printers. Complete line of characters gets printed at a time. They are typically used with mainframe computers.
Fig. 4 – (a) Line Printer (b) Daisy– Wheel Printer
The printing element of these type of Printers does not come in direct contact with the paper. These are the most widely used for home and office use. The printing mechanism either uses a laser beam or sprays electrically charged drops of ink onto the paper through cartridges. Some of the examples of the Non-Impact Printers include:
- Inkjet Printers
- Laser Printers
In these type of Printers, liquid ink is sprayed onto the paper through tiny nozzles. The ink is present in the refillable cartridges which includes print head and array of tiny nozzles. Cartridge is moved across the page by Printer Arm and the text or image is re-created on the paper. They are inexpensive and different types of Inkjet Printers include:
- All-in-One or Multifunction Printers
- Photo Inkjet Printers
- Single-Function Inkjet Printers
Fig. 5 – Inkjet Printer
They are reserved for office environments that depend on printing many text documents. They are expensive than Inkjet type. Instead of cartridge, Toner is used, which consists of tiny particles of plastic rather than liquid ink. The Toner Cartridge is dry and hence there is no smudging unlike Inkjet type.
You can consider buying this if your printing volume is high. Most of the models available in the market offer 600 dots-per-inch ( dpi ) as the standard Resolution. In high-end models, the resolution is up to 2400 DPI.
Different types include:
- Color Laser Printers
- Monochrome Laser Printers
Fig. 6 – Laser Printer
Printer Buying Guide – Factors to Consider While Buying Best Printer
We have considered each factor and included the most important ones for our Printer Buying Guide. The factors to be considered while investing in a good Printer are:
- Capacity and Speed
Capacity and Speed
Before purchasing, you should check for the speed and capacity. It will help in deciding whether the type of printer you have chosen is suitable for the nature of work you need it for. You can look into the specifications for the exact speed or how many pages will it print per minute (ppm) or per month (Duty Cycle).
Printers are available both in color and Monochrome. Monochrome Printers simply means Black and White Printer or it prints only in one color. If you want to use it only for printing documents without pictures or images then choosing Monochrome Printers could save you money. But if you are a photographer or artist or a home user who is interested in printing colorful images, then choosing a color printer becomes necessary.
Quality of a print is an important factor to be considered and it is determined by the printer resolution and the type of print head used. High quality printing is extremely important for marketing and other business branding companies. High quality flyer attracts more customers and poor quality might affect your business negatively.
The most important but least considered factor (in general) is Reliability of your printer. Reliable Printers should work consistently without any complaints for a longer period of time. Here online user reviews and consumer analyses reports become an important source to check for reliability. Unless you have a lot of extra money to neglect the life of your printer, our Printer Buying Guide suggests you to keep it the most important selection criteria while selecting the best printer for you.
Fig. 7 – (a) Laser Toner Cartridge (b) Inkjet Cartridge
Since Inkjet and Laser Printers are widely used, we will concentrate on these two types.
Advantages of Inkjet Printer include:
- Image quality is extremely high.
- Image color is exceptionally good with bright and vivid colors.
- Initial cost is low.
- Size is compact.
- Reliability is high.
Advantages of Laser Printer include:
- It offers high printing speed.
- Printing quality is high.
- Expensive than Inkjet Printers.
- Suitable for bulk printing.
Disadvantages of Inkjet and Laser Printers are as follows: –
Disadvantages of Inkjet Printer are:
- Printing speed is lower than Laser.
- Print head (Ink nozzles) tends to block if not used regularly.
- Maintenance is high as ink cartridges are expensive.
- Ink smudging might occur.
Disadvantages of Laser Printer are:
- Initial investment is high.
- Color Toner is expensive.
- Emits Toner dust which might cause health hazards in the long run.
- Causes environmental pollution.
Best Printers of 2021
We have tried to list few models based on user reviews available online and our Printer Buying Guide. The list is as follows: –
- Epson EcoTank Pro ET- 16650 – Best for small offices.
- Canon Pixma G6020 – Ideal for Home offices.
- Canon Pixma G7020 – Ideal for Home setup.
- HP Officejet Pro 9015 – Best for business use.
- HP Sprocket Portable Printers– Ideal for printing photos from Phones gallery or Social media profiles.