How to Buy a Printer Without Getting a Migraine: Home Printer Buying Guide

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The time has come. You can no longer avoid the inevitable. As a PC or laptop owner, the purchase of a printer has always been an event that you were trying to postpone as long as possible. For years, you avoided buying a printer by using the printer at your friend’s home, your job, your local university, and when you were in a real bind, your local library’s and the nearby Kinkos’.

But you can no longer avoid it. Your printing needs have increased, and now you must buy one and keep it in your home. It’s okay. I understand the turmoil you’re going through. Purchasing a printer is one of the more difficult tasks a PC or laptop owner has to go through. Purchasing a printer is so stressful, most people avoid it until the last possible second.

Just a quick note: apple owners do not have to go through this level of stress. All they have to do is wait for the Apple company to tell them what printer they need. They are quite lucky!

Here are a few important questions that all shoppers must look for when purchasing a printer.

  • Do you need the printer to fax, scan and copy, and print photos? The more your printer is capable of, the more expensive it will be. A regular printer will only print, and an all-in-one printer will be able to print, scan, copy, and fax.
  • How expensive is the ink? Not all printers use the same ink, and some inks are far more expensive than others. Just because you’re buying a cheap printer does not mean the ink will be cheap too.
  • How much do you have to print? The number of papers you print will influence the type of printer you buy. If you’re buying one for a home office or a small business, you will need a vastly different printer from a printer used by a medium-level company or a home printer. The same goes for if you need to print a few or many photos.
  • How good are you with new software? Do you need one that is easy to use, or do you have no problem looking over manuals and referencing online help sections? Just like not all printers are built the same, the software that allows these printers to operate can be designed specifically for different types of users. Some printers are built for easy one-button printing, while other printers come with a 300-page manual and a 1-800 number helpline. The printer you choose should be based on your level of expertise with electronics.
  • Are you using multiple devices or just one device? If you only have one device, your printer can be connected either through Wi-Fi or through a physical cable. But if you have multiple devices, unless you want dozens of cables running through your house, it is best to have a wifi-connected printer.

Once you have the answers to these questions, it is time to look for a printer. This is where the fun begins! First, let’s start with the printers that the computer manufacturers recommend for their devices.

Recommendations by the Manufacturer

The recommended printers listed by the manufacturer are the first printers you should look at when searching for a printer. When you search through this list, you will see that many of the printers recommended are of the same brand as the desktop or laptop if the manufacturer makes printers. However, if the manufacturer does not make printers, the company will still provide a list of compatible printers, and you can find that information on their website.

Now that you have gone over the recommended printers that are compatible with your device, you must decide between two types of printers, the inkjet printer, and a laser printer.

Inkjet vs. Laser printers

Inkjet printers and Laser Printers are not interchangeable. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses and is built for different purposes. Also, each printer has special printing capabilities for different printing jobs. Here is what to consider when choosing an inkjet or a laser printer.

Laser PrinterInkjet Printer
Laser Printers can handle a high volume of text documents and light graphic designs but they’re terrible for photos and artInkjet printers can print beautiful photos from the comfort of your home and can handle subtle color changes in art pieces with ease
The speed of a laser printer is unparalleled and easily leaves inkjet printer speed in the dustInkjet printers focus on quality, not quantity. These printers can handle Tech documents just fine, but are much faster at printing photos than Laser Printers
Unless something significant happens, Laser Printers have a good shelf life and need little maintenanceBecause of the amount of work an inkjet printer must do, they will break down more often
Laser Printers how much cheaper than inkjet printers and most of their ink is cheap as well.The price of a mid-range laser printer is the beginning price for an inkjet printer. And their ink can cost an arm and a leg.

If you need to print a lot of color photos and art and have no problem with troubleshooting software, then an inkjet printer is right for you. But if you just need to print text documents and your colored designs don’t require high-resolution prints, then choose the laser printer.

INK Features and Characteristics

After choosing between an inkjet and a laser printer, let’s focus on the 2nd most expensive aspect of a printer, the ink.

Even if you have your printer for more than five years, the cost of ink can easily overshadow the printer’s price. Depending on the type of ink a printer requires, a black or colored ink cartridge can range from $5 to $40. So be sure to select a printer and ink that are in your budget

While you are comparing the different ink prices, you must research if the ink is available year-round and has not experienced any shortages in the last few years. Some ink brands have a period in the year where the company doesn’t manufacture ink. This leads to shortages regularly. The owners of these printers know that shortages are coming, so they will stock up and purchase extra ink, causing the shortage to last longer.

Consider this: if you’re considering purchasing an all-in-one printer so you can scan art pieces or designs, you may want to purchase a stand-alone scanner. Unless you buy an extremely expensive all-in-one printer, the scanner’s quality in an all-in-one printer will not be as good as a stand-alone scanner. An all-in-one printer will affect the color of your design. It could wash it out and fade it, turn one color into a different color, or not detect the color at all.


This has been your guide on how to buy a printer without getting a migraine. After reading this article, you should be able to visit any online or brick-and-mortar retailer that sells printers and pick out the perfect one for you within an hour or so. If you visit a brick-and-mortar retailer to buy your printer, just save this article on your phone since you cannot print yet.

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