How to Buy the Best Colour Printer for Home Use

Find out how to buy the best colour printer for home use with our guide, covering types of printers, desirable features and much more.

How to Buy the Best Colour Printer for Home Use

Thinking about buying a colour printer for home use? We’ll explain the main types of printers as well as the key things to look out for, including special features, print engine strength and print resolution. There are also a number of other factors to keep in mind if you’re looking for the best colour printer for home use. Let’s take a look at them.

Types of Printers

Over the last few years, printer technology has rapidly advanced, bringing around the development of plenty of new features. When shopping for a printer, it’s important to know what you intend to use it for, as this will have a big impact on the model you choose. Whether you’re looking to replace your current printer or are buying one for the first time, you’ve got two main options.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers propel small drops of ink onto the paper to create an image or text. They’re great all-round devices and can be found in a lot of homes. These printers are renowned for producing high-quality images and are also perfect for printing photographs. It doesn’t cost too much to replace cartridges, too, so buying an inkjet printer could be one of your cheaper options.

Inkjet pros:

  • Good for people on a budget
  • Good for photos and image-heavy documents
  • Refillable cartridges produce less waste
  • Easy to maintain
  • Can work on multiple varieties

Inkjet cons:

  • Ink is comparatively expensive, long-term
  • Prints can be water damaged
  • Cartridges need cleaning
  • Slower than laser
  • High volume printing is a challenge

Laser Printers

With a laser printer, a laser beam moves back and forth over a drum or negatively charged cylinder, producing text or images. Laser printers are ideal for printing a high volume of documents, so you’re more likely to find these in offices rather than homes. Be aware that replacing laser printer ink cartridges can be more expensive than replacing inkjet printer ink cartridges, but one ink cartridge can typically print around 1,400 pages before it needs to be replaced.

Laser pros:

  • Good for people who need to print at volume
  • Sharper text quality and fine line definition
  • Simple documents are cheaper to print, long-term
  • Often hold more paper

Laser cons:

  • Higher initial costs
  • Works on limited printing materials
  • Anything but simpler graphics is challenging
  • Tend to be bigger and heavier than inkjet

Key Features and Styles to Look For

Printer and smartphone

Once you’ve chosen your preferred printer type, you’ll need to consider what features or styles you want with it. Both inkjet and laser models are available with a range of helpful options, such as all-in-one printers, double-sided printing or wireless connectivity.

All-In-One Printers

In addition to printing, all-in-one printers also work as scanners or photocopiers. Some even have smart card readers and can connect directly to digital cameras, while others allow you to fax documents. This is particularly handy if you’re wanting to use the printer in your home office.

Wireless Printing

Most printers connect to your computer via a USB cable, whereas some newer models allow you to connect wirelessly through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or near-field communication (NFC). Near-field communication allows you to sync your printer with a smartphone or tablet, making the hook-up process even easier.

Regardless of how you connect, wireless printers offer lots of benefits, such as allowing multiple computers and devices to gain access and print documents. On top of that, you’re not restricted by a cable, so you can print from anywhere you’ve got connectivity.

When it comes to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth printers, smartphone users can wirelessly send images and documents – through Google Cloud Print (Android) or Apple AirPrint (iOS) – to the printer. We really love the convenience of wireless printing and consider it a must-have feature.

Double-Sided Printing

For environmentally and budget-conscious consumers, a printer with double-sided printing is a great choice. These models automatically flip the page to print on both sides of the paper. Not all printers offer this feature, though, so if this is important to you then it’s worth double checking whether your desired printer has it.

Print Quality & Speed

When you’re shopping for a printer, consider print quality and speed as these factors will greatly impact your printing experience. After all, you don’t want to purchase a printer only to discover that it can’t meet your needs.

Print Quality

You can measure print quality in DPI (or dots per inch). A higher DPI equates in clearer, more detailed images. Most printers produce decent images at 600 x 600 DPI as standard, which should suffice for most intended uses. However, if you do plan on using your printer to print professional photographs, you’ll probably want to choose a printer with a higher DPI.

Print Speed

Print speed is measured in pages per minute (PPM) for text, or images per minute (IPM) for pictures. Inkjet printers’ print speed can range from 13 to over 30 PPM while laser printers, on average, have a print speed of 20 PPM. When deciding the right print speed for you, consider how many documents you’ll want to print at one time. If you’re routinely printing very large documents, opt for one with a higher print speed.