A home printer is indispensable, whether you need a book report, a bake sale flyer, a photograph or a special recipe.
Similarly, having a scanner to bring a physical object into the digital world can be just as important.
But selecting the right printer or scanner can be daunting, so it’s key to ask yourself a few basic questions before you make a choice. Let’s start with the printer.
If you’re like most home users, your printer will be a jack-of-all-trades. An inkjet printer uses color ink cartridges to produce final images. Most inkjets can handle text and images well, although results often vary depending on the quality of the paper. These printers are usually inexpensive, with many models starting at less than $50. But you can run out of ink quickly, and replacing the cartridges can cost more than the printer.
If you only need to print text, a laser printer may be a better purchase. Laser printers use toner, which is a powder fused to the paper during printing. And while toner can be more expensive than ink, it will generally need to be replaced less frequently. There are also color laser printers, but they are more expensive than an inkjet. Expect to pay about $100 for a black-and-white laser printer and about $200 for a color laser printer.
If you like to print your photos at home, some printers specialize in providing the best image quality. Some are inkjet, but if you’re willing to spend more, you can go with a dye sublimation printer, which will give you professional-quality prints.
Choosing a scanner may be easier. For often less than $100, a traditional flatbed scanner can handle most things a home user will need. Tasks might include text, images and optical character recognition, which transforms a scanned document into editable text. Pricier models can handle scanning slides and film, too. Portable scanner models, including handheld or wand scanners, allow you to capture documents on the go and can transfer information wirelessly.
Unless you’re doing very specific work, you don’t need to worry about resolution when buying a modern scanner or printer. They all do a good job with general tasks.
Some alternatives: If you need to save on desk space, a combination printer and scanner is a good choice because it also functions as a copier.
DEVICE OF THE MONTH
HP LaserJet Pro M281fdw
This all-in-one printer is ideal for a home office. It’s a color laser printer that can also scan, copy and fax. It outputs up to 22 pages per minute, and it can handle two-sided printing. You can print directly off a USB drive, or wirelessly from your iOS or Android device. It also comes with a touchscreen for setup and use.