The two dominant hard-copy technologies are inkjet
and laser printing. Color lasers offer higher speed
and lower cost per page for high-volume printing,
especially for sharp text and bright, solid colors.
Inkjets’ sprayed-on ink tends to bleed or wick into
the page (although coated inkjet or photo paper
yields much better results), and the multiple passes
of an inkjet printhead can produce a banding or
stripe effect in solid fills.
Inkjets boast superior quality for photo printing—
even though an inkjet’s highest resolution
setting, such as 4800 x 1200 dpi, often looks worse
than the combination of lower resolution with image
enhancement technology such as HP’s PhotoREt,
which uses a greater range of color and more precise
placement of dots (some as tiny as 1 or 2 picoliters).
With today’s low printer prices, costly ink and
toner cartridges are the ultimate in “razor-and-blade”
marketing. Look for inkjets that use four or more
colored cartridges. The classic quartet is CMYK;
some models, such as Canon’s Pixma iP5000, add
color-mixing options like light cyan and pigment- or
dye-based black. Simpler inkjets have black and tricolor
cartridges, the latter of which must be thrown
away even if two of its three hues have ink left.
Some lasers apply toner in a single pass. Others
are four-pass models with a carousel that finishes
monochrome pages quickly, but loops color pages
through the printer four times. This means significantly slower color printing.
SIDEBAR: Before you buy
options run the gamut
from multiple input
trays for different
types of media to
built-in duplex (or
If your life isn’t
limited to letter and
printers range from
11 x 17 inch-capable
lasers to inkjets that
accommodate up to 13
x 19 inch (or full-bleed
11 x 17), as well as specialized
for banners and signs.
2. A growing number
of both inkjet and
laser models have
morphed into multifunction,
peripherals topped by
built-in flatbed scanners,
serve as scanners,
copiers, and in some
cases fax machines
as well as printers.
Inkjet or laser? Duplex
printing or memorycard
slots? Just a
printer, or the extravalue
spending $250 or
printers let you do
in-house what used
to take a week’s wait
from a print shop.
Clockwise (from left):
Konica Minolta Magicolor 2400W; Canon
Pixma iP5200; Canon Pixma MP500; HP
Photosmart 3310; HP Photosmart 8250
Their scanners don’t
match the sharpness
of dedicated flatbeds,
but they’re convenient
savers of both office
space and money.
3. The term “photo
printer” can mean
either a small, dedicated
printer that has
slots to read digital
camera images for
borderless 4 x 6-inch
prints, or a generalpurpose
also has card slots and
up to 8 x 10 inches).
Both often provide a
small LCD screen to
preview, select, and
rotating, or minor
editing of images—
even with no PC connected
to the printer.
From top to bottom: Konica Minolta Magicolor 2400W; Canon Pixma iP5200; Canon Pixma MP500; HP Photosmart 3310; HP Photosmart 8250