Choosing A Printer: Which Type Is Best

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: Choosing A Printer: Which Type Is Best |

The 4 most popular types of printers include the following: Impact, Dot-matrix, Laser and LED

Impact– these printers work like typewriters, both use an ink ribbon and an impact to make a print on the paper. The two major types of impact printers are daisy wheel and dot matrix. Impact printers can print on multipart forms (like carbonless receipts).

Daisy wheel printers work with a spinning character wheel. These printers are loud and slow, but they have some advantages. They are inexpensive and the print quality is good (Letter Quality or LQ). They might be hard to find though because they are not being made anymore.

Dot-Matrix printers work with a row of pins that are triggered in patterns that form characters as the printhead moves across the paper. The image quality is not as good as the daisy wheel. Modern dot-matrix printers are labeled Near Letter Quality or NLQ. They are quieter than daisy wheel printers due to the plastic dust cover. They are also faster then daisy wheel printers.

Note: Most impact printers have an option to adjust how close the printhead rests from the ribbon. If your printing is too light, adjust it closer to the ribbon. Too dark or smearing? Move it back.

Inkjet– these page printers spray ink on the page to form characters. The most popular modern form of the ink-jet is called the Bubble Jet Printer. The printhead of the Bubble jet printer moves back and forth across the paper and sprays bubbles of ink onto the page to form characters. Bubble Jets are inexpensive, simple and high quality. They require multiple ink cartridges, one for each of the CMYK colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black).

Electrophotgraphic (EP) Laser Printers – These are the most popular top-end printers. They use a combination of static electric charges, laser light and toner to print. They are referred to as a page printer because they receive print instructions one page at a time, rather than one line at a time. When someone refers to a laser printer they are referring to the Electrophotgraphic (EP) Laser Printer, but there is a similar printer called the Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Printer which has some advantages.

Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Printers offer several advantages over laser printers. They are much cheaper because they use LED instead of lasers. The printer is smaller, and they don’t carry the risks associated with lasers (such as eye damage). However, their resolution has not caught up with laser printers yet. The toner system it utilizes is more efficient, but messier due to its slight static charge.

It is possible to upgrade your printer. Each manufacturer, with the documentation for each printer, includes a list of all the asccessories, options, and upgrades available for that printer. They could include:

Memory– the larger the memory the larger a print job it can handle (increases buffer size),

Hard drives– hard drives can be added to many printers. These hard drives can be used to store many fonts used during the print process and are also used to store the large document files while it is being processed for printing,

Print server with a network card interface– the card you install in your printer for network connections must be proprietary, or in other words made by the same manufacturer as the printer, it allows a network connection without a host network computer, it speeds up the printing jobs, it often comes with management software so anyone on the network can check the status of their print jobs, as well as toner levels.

Trays and Feeders– adding more paper trays means that users don’t have to refill paper as much, it also means that different kinds of paper can be used at the same time (stationary, envelopes). An envelope feeder is another attachment that makes envelope printing run smoother.

Finishers– this can fold, staple, hole punch, sort or collate documents

Scanners, Fax Modems and Copiers– these can be added or attached to some printers. However, it would be preferable to purchase a multifunction printer that is already a printer, copier, scanner and fax machine in one- rather then adding them on later.

Have fun shopping for a printer!


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3 Responses to “Choosing A Printer: Which Type Is Best”

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[…] For help in what type of printer, or what type of printer upgrades to buy click here. […]

What would you recommend for a personal home printer that will be required to print occasional photos and a few documents a week? Also what is the approximate price difference, on average, between a laser and inkjet printer – and can you recommend any specific brands?

Based on your needs I would recommend an ink jet printer for you. To compare prices between laser and inkjet printers I suggest you look at this site: – When you find one you like (click on the little circles to read the reviews) take that information into your local electronics store and see if they will match that price. Also, I recommend HP. I would not buy a Samsung or Brother.

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