Tips for Choosing a Good Windows Printer

I would be curious to know how many printers I have gone through over the years: various dot matrix, inkjets and lasers. Some, like the dot matrix ones, I picked up in good used condition when inkjets became more popular. Man, those old dot matrixes were slow and noisy! You still see the occasional one in use at the mechanics, or parts stores where they need copies of invoices and such.

And there was a time when laser printers were only used by large corporations, since they were the only ones that could afford them. How times have changed! Now, you can buy a small, efficient laser printer for home use for about the same price as a good inkjet printer.

In reality, there are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a Windows printer. Which is best for you depends on how it is to be used. For example, do you need to print in colour, or are mainly printing text? If you need colour, will you be printing digital photos or other high-def images?

Inkjet Printers: affordable and multi-functional

By far, inkjets are the most affordable printer to buy and you can often get what is called a Multi-function device that typically can print, scan, copy (photocopy) and even fax. Having a printer that can scan is very handy. You can scan documents and old photos into digital versions to facilitate organization. Here at home I have a Canon MX 452 multi-function device that can print/scan/copy and fax and it is available (or a similar model) for under $100. Now, I do not do a lot of printing here at home, but I have had it for just over a year and have only replaced the cartridges (1 black and 1 colour) just once. It might be good to mention at this point that cartridges can often be cheaper when purchased online. This is especially true if you can get good, re-manufactured or generic cartridges for your machine. Generic ones will often do a good job, but the colours may not be as vivid as a manufacturer’s cartridge.

One thing to look out for is the type of cartridge system the printer uses. Some models use one cartridge that contains all the coloured inks (like my Canon MX452); this is the least cost-effective setup as you are forced to throw away the cartridge once one of the colours runs out, even if the others have not.  Perhaps a better option is to look for an inkjet that has an individual cartridge for each colour, often cyan, yellow, magenta and black. With individual ink cartridges you only have to replace the colours you’ve used up.

Laser Printers: more affordable than ever!

There’s nothing like the printed page from a laser printer. If you need to print a resume, or any other document for distribution, archiving, etc, then getting a laser printer is the way to go. You can get a basic monochrome laser (like my Brother HL-2270DW) for about $150. My Brother laser is wireless (more about wireless connectivity later), so that increases the price; one without this feature can be had for closer to $100.

But what about toner cartridges? Are they not expensive? Again, I have had my Brother for over a year and I have yet to replace the toner. I looked online at the site where I normally purchase all my cartridges ( and I can get a ‘compatible’ cartridge for $29.99, or an official Brother one for under $40. That’s not bad!

Of course, you can get colour laser printers, and they start at just under $200.

Wi-Fi connectivity

If you have multiple users in your home, either on laptops, tablets or desktops, you may want to consider getting a printer (either an inkjet or laser) with wireless connectivity. This means that you can print without having to connect USB cables to your laptop or computer. Look for printers that also support mobile printing, such as Epson’s iPrint feature which allows wireless printing from devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Both of my home printers have wireless connectivity built-in and work great from either a laptop or my Windows tablet.

Final thoughts

So, decide what your printing requirements are before going out and buying the cheapest printer at your local big box store. Researching printers online as well as their cartridge replacement costs will save you time, money and frustration down the road. You may even want to consider purchasing an inkjet and a laser (with either one or both having Wi-Fi ability). This could be a cost-saver (on ink and toner) over time as well.

How about you? Do you like the printer you have? Please share your thoughts below.