Side by Side: Printers

Agriculture.com Staff 04/12/2006 @ 8:00am

With a wide array of features printers have to offer, know what to look for when you're shopping for this integral piece of equipment for your farm office.

When Linnea Kooistra began researching printers for her farm office, she made a list of features she was looking for. First of all, it had to be versatile.

"I need to have a fax and be able to scan," says Kooistra, Kooistra Farms, Woodstock, Illinois. "I also want a printer that can print in color as well as in black and white. I chose an all-in-one printer because it offers several pieces of equipment in one unit, and overall maintenance is easier."

Like Kooistra, you can compare your needs with the features of different printers before you decide to purchase.

Untitled Document • Capabilities. Printers range from portable to combinations. If you’re cramped for space, an all-in-one (multi-function) unit may be a good option. If you decide on a unit with multiple features, be sure to test the features most important to you.
• Ink-jet. These printers are less expensive but can cost more per printed page because of expensive inks.
• Laser. They often cost more up front, but supplies are cheaper.
• Speed. Speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm). Less expensive printers print about three to six black-and-white pages per minute. Color printing is even slower.
• Resolution. This term refers to the sharpness of images and text. It is measured in dots per inch (dpi). For most of your printing requirements, 600 dpi should be sufficient.
• Memory. Many printers come standard with a small amount of memory, which you can add to later.
• Operating system. Be sure your computer’s OS will support the type of printer you choose.
• Service/support. To ensure that you’ll be able to get service, software, support, and supplies in the future, a brand name printer may add to your confidence level.
• Supplies. Consider what supplies will cost. How much is an ink or toner cartridge? How long do they last?
• Warranty. If your printer is an integral part of your business, consider a brand that provides a loaner should your printer need repairs.
• Paper tray. Do you print a variety of documents? If so, be certain the paper tray can adapt to your needs.

Kooistra chose an all-in-one printer because her office space is limited. All-in-one printers typically use ink jet technology and combine four pieces of equipment in one: scanner, copier, fax, and printer. One nice feature not found on every model is a stand-alone fax machine. You can send and receive faxes without having the computer on.

A printer is an important part of your home office, so don't be afraid to take one for a test drive to see what it can do. Click on the chart to learn about some of the all-in-one (multifunction) printers that are available.

With a wide array of features printers have to offer, know what to look for when you're shopping for this integral piece of equipment for your farm office.

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