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Digital Printer Buying Guide

A comprehensive digital printer guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy a new digital printer.


Getting Started

Digital printers are useful for a wide variety of tasks, including printing web pages, brochures to advertise your home business, creating custom greeting cards for friends and family, and sharing your digital camera photographs with others. You can find the best printer for all of your printing needs at Abt Electronics.

Types

Ink Jet Printer

Inkjets use droplets of ink to form letters, graphics, and photos. Some have one cartridge that holds the cyan (greenish-blue), magenta, and yellow inks, plus a second one for black. Others have a separate cartridge for each color. For photos, many inkjets have additional cartridges that contain lighter cyan and magenta inks, or gray ink, which can give a smoother look in light areas of a photo.

Most inkjet printers output black-and-white text at 3 to 13 pages per minute but are typically slower with color photos and documents. Ink jet printers have ink cartridges that can be refilled as they go out. Newer ink jet printers come with more inj jet cartridges that will allow you to fill them individually as they run out. This allows you to conserve ink and never throw away ink that hasn't been used.

Laser Printer

These work much like plain-paper copiers, forming images by transferring toner (powdered ink) to paper passing over an electrically charged drum. The process yields sharp black-and-white text. Laser printers usually outrun inkjets, cranking out black-and-white text at a rate of 12 to 20 ppm. Black-and-white lasers generally cost about as much as midpriced inkjets, but they're less expensive to operate. These printers are known for their quick-output and are typically found in office spaces that require multiple computers to be connected.

All-in-one Printers

You can also get printers with scanning, copying, and sometimes fax capability. Many all-in-ones cost no more and take up little more space than a plain printer. What's more, all-in-ones are actually getting less expensive and more versatile, making it one of the best printers on the market. Whether you choose an inkjet or a laser all-in-one, look for one with a flatbed design, so you can copy books, photos, and other items you can't, or don't want to, put through the slot on a sheet-fed model.

Features

USB port

The way a printer connects to a computer depends on what kind of connectivity it has. All printers have a USB port that lets them connect to Windows or Mac computers.

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or infrared wireless
Many printers have optional Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or infrared wireless connectivity. A printer with PictBridge can connect directly to a camera, and some models can print and download photos right from your camera's memory card.
Memory-card reader

This feature lets you print image files from a digital camera's memory card without using a computer. You can also transfer the files to a computer.

LCD Viewer

Many printers incorporate a built-in LCD screen for viewing and editing images from a memory card. A few printers have screens that are 4 inches or more in width, but most are smaller.

Ink Monitor

Most inkjet printers have an ink monitor to warn when you're running low, but accuracy varies.

Networking

Networking lets you print from any computer in either a wired or wireless home network.

Internet Connectivity

Some all-in-one printers can communicate directly with the Internet, running "apps" that enable you to print online content directly, or even send printing to your home from a remote computer.

Double-sided printing

For double-sided printing, you can print the odd-numbered pages of a document first, and then flip those pages over to print the even-numbered pages on a second pass. A few printers make this process easier by incorporating built-in duplexers for automatically printing on both sides.

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