Which new printer is best for you?

A printerAs with everything from televisions to cameras to computers, printer technology evolves and improves with every year. Printer manufacturers release new models every calendar year that offer new features, improved capabilities and, in some cases, fixes for problems that have plagued users in earlier models.

In 2012, printers are faster than ever before, providing crisp and clean images and text. Still, they manage to print more quickly and use less ink, making them so much more efficient. Other trends this year include larger formats and wireless capabilities. Here’s a closer look at some of the top printers of 2012, for all possible budgets and printing needs.

HP Envy 110 e-All-in-One

Want a printer that is environmentally friendly while also providing high-quality printing? Then this is your printer. The world’s only PVC-free printer, the Envy inkjet printer, is also Energy Star certified and offers green features like automatic two-sided printing and an ink cartridge recycling program.

In addition to the low environmental impact, the Envy offers quick and quiet printing and produces lab quality photo prints and crisp documents. And in addition to the wireless capabilities, the Envy has built in AirPrint capabilities, meaning you can print from your iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. Best of all, the Envy is affordable, just around $200.

Canon Pixma MX432

Are you working from home? Do you need an affordable machine that prints, scans and copies? Then the Canon Pixma MX432 might be a good option for you.

Costing about $100, this sleek machine does everything you need for a low price. While this inkjet has a slightly slower speed than some other comparable printers, it provides excellent photo printing and includes wireless and AirSoft capabilities for convenient printing on the go.

HP Officejet Pro 8500

If you need fast and high-quality printing plus the capability to scan, copy and fax, then this is the model for you. One of the most user-friendly printers on the market, it boasts a large LCD screen that allows you to set your preferences with just the touch of a button.

For an inexpensive all-in-one (this model runs just under $300) the HP Officejet prints quickly, with about 15 pages per minute in black and white, 11 pages per minute in color, both with professional-looking resolution and quality. The drawback to this model is that it does not have wireless capabilities, but you can scan directly to e-mail or print from a memory card.

Epson Artisan 835/Epson Artisan 1430

If you print lots of photos at home, then the Epson Artisan 835 is definitely a printer to consider. Unlike other inkjet printers that use four color ink cartridges plus a black cartridge, the Epson uses a six cartridge system.

The two extra ink colors, light magenta and light cyan, allow the Epson to print photos with a greater range and depth of colors, meaning that your snapshots look professionally printed. This printer is more than adequate in other areas as well, providing crisp black and white printing at nine pages per minute, plus scanning, faxing and copying capabilities. This printer costs around $300.

If you would rather have greater photo printing capabilities than multiple functions, consider the Epson Artisan 1430. This printer is geared toward the photographer, printing gallery-worthy prints up to 13” x 19”. With a price tag of less than $300, this printer is far more affordable than other wide format models, making it the ideal choice for amateur photographers or craft enthusiasts who want to print larger photos and documents.

The Artisan 1430 also includes wireless capabilities, plus Epson Connect, which allows you to print from your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.

Printers have come a long way from the slow and inefficient dot matrix models of the early days of home computing. The best model for you depends on how you plan to use it; if you plan to print mostly documents, look for a model that prints quickly and efficiently, while a photo printer should provide high-quality color prints.

If you take lots of photos or do work on a mobile device, choose a compatible printer that allows you to print directly from your device. Test a few models, compare the quality and make the right printer decision for you; if nothing else, there will plenty of new models to choose from next year.

The causes and how to fix lines on printouts

If you own a printer, chances are you’ll experience some sort of trouble with it at some point, if you haven’t already. One of the most common ailments plaguing printers is horizontal lines across the page – lines you didn’t ask to be there.

The good news is that there are several steps you can take to try to cure this problem before having to call in a professional or replace the printer entirely.

Basic Causes and Fixes

Fortunately, most fixes for horizontal lines fall into this category. It’s always a good idea to start with the simplest, easiest remedies before taking more drastic measures and risking further damage.

Ink level is low
This is one of the most common reasons unwanted lines appear on printouts. If your printer is running out of ink, simply replace or refill your ink cartridges following the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.

Often new printers come with ink cartridges that are either low on ink or have ink cartridges that have dried out from lack of use while sitting on the shelf. If you’ve just purchased a new printer, double check the cartridges that came with it.

Settings are incorrect
It can make a big difference in the quality of your printout if your settings are not correct. Check the following:A woman with a hammer about to hit a printer

  • Paper type – Make sure the paper type selected matches the paper you are actually using. Printing photos and the use of photo paper is especially affected by incorrect settings.
  • Print quality – Settings usually offer a choice between Draft, Normal and Best. Select the highest quality possible.
  • Color or black and white – Select “Color” printing even if you are printing a document that is only in black and white. While it may seem counterintuitive, some printers that have separate color and black and white cartridges use ink from both cartridges – even for black and white documents. Choosing the “Color” option will often fix horizontal lines appearing in black and white printouts.
  • Speed – Turning off high speed printing mode often eliminates unwanted lines.

Test, clean, and align
Part of good printer maintenance is periodically running your printer through a cycle of test, clean, and align – even when there aren’t problems. This helps keep the printer operating smoothly. It’s also a good basic step toward resolving problems with your printouts.

Troubleshoot
Most printers have a troubleshooting option. Go ahead and run your computer’s troubleshooting program for your printer. Windows users can reach this through the Control Panel, while Mac users go through System Preferences.

Read the manual
If you haven’t thrown out or misplaced your printer’s manual, it can actually be helpful to take a look through it and check for helpful hints. Manuals also usually have their own specific troubleshooting guides – as well as a tech support hotline.

Defective cartridge
Once in a while, an ink cartridge is simply defective. If the printer is working and you’ve tried everything else, you may just need to replace the cartridge.

Advanced Causes and Fixes

Unfortunately, there are times when the basic fixes just aren’t enough. These fixes take a bit more time and effort, but they can ultimately save you the expense and hassle of either having your printer repaired or purchasing a new one.

Clogged/dirty print head
If the horizontal lines on your printouts are black or in color and are not simply streaks where ink is missing, a clogged or dirty print head is a likely culprit. There are several methods of cleaning print heads, depending on the make and model of the printer. It’s always best to check with the printer’s manufacturer for the recommended method. However, there are some do’s and don’ts that apply regardless of printer brand:

  • DO unplug the printer and remove the ink cartridges before cleaning the print head.
  • DON’T use tap water to clean the print head. Most inks are water soluble, so purified water is effective and relatively safe to use for cleaning. However, tap water can contain minerals and other impurities that can damage the print head.
  • DO use distilled water to clean the print head.
  • DON’T use compressed air to blow out print heads or nozzles. These parts are delicate and can be damaged by compressed air.
  • DO consider cleaning the backside of the print head assembly if cleaning the print head alone does not resolve the problem.

Defective print head
If after cleaning the print head assembly there are still unwanted lines, the print head may be defective and should be replaced.

If All Else Fails

Sometimes there’s truly nothing to be done except to either take the printer in to be serviced or buy a new one altogether. If it comes to that after trying the above fixes, at least you’ll know you did everything possible first.

Selecting the most suitable printers

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There is now an extensive range of different printers on the sites of suppliers like Ryman, and this range of choice can sometimes make the selection of the best model seem a difficult task.

As with so many other tech purchases, the way to zero in on the right printers is to first start by establishing the detail of your regular needs.

With printers, this understandably amounts to the type and frequency of the intended usage. Both of these factors have a bearing on spec of suitable printers, which in turn influences both initial outlay and ongoing running costs. Here we look at relative benefits of the most common types of printers.

Laser printers were formerly an expensive option, for business rather than home use, but costs for this technology, as with so many things in the IT world, have dropped over the years.

Those looking to produce a large volume documents will be happy with the excellent print quality of text produced by laser printers. Ongoing running costs are also low, with the relatively expensive toner cartridges lasting a long time, and commonly averaging a running cost of about 1p per A4 sheet. In contrast, inkjet printers can cost as much as 5p per sheet.

However, laser printers designed for the home use market do not usually come with the auto-duplexing function, which allows the automatic printing of both sides of the paper, and so aspiring novelists on a budget should perhaps be aware of this fact. Colour laser printers are a bit more expensive and limited in the quality of colour image that can be produced – they are not really recommended for those looking for a home photograph printer.

A PrinterInkjet printers are still the most popular for home use. Many inkjet printers can produce excellent quality photo prints and other high definition images, in full colour. Standard or entry level inkjets will perform just this function, and can be picked up inexpensively, although as mentioned can become costly if a large volume of printing is required.

For home office use, many choose to spend a little more on an integrated unit. All-in-one inkjet printers can scan, copy and print, and often fax. These kinds of inkjet printers will understandably cost more initially, but will have similar running costs as more basic models. One point to note with the integrated, all-in-one inkjet is the size of the unit, which is usually considerably larger than the standard type, and can eat up limited desk space.

While cheaper than laser printer toner cartridges, fresh ink cartridges or refills for inkjets will be required more frequently. This can get expensive, especially if a lot of high definition colour images are printed. Producing draft quality prints when definition is not an issue can go some way to reducing ongoing usage costs, and this is particularly viable when printing text.

Why do printer cartridges have chips?

Why Do Ink Cartridges Have Chips?Many of you reading this blog will have a printer next to you as you read this and you will also have probably bought an ink cartridge at some point. But have you ever wondered why a lot of modern printer cartridges have chips?

Well first of all let’s have a look into what types of cartridges have smart chips. There are two types of cartridges: Ink Tanks and Ink Cartridges.

Ink tanks are those that just there to hold the ink, they don’t usually have any circuitry, they just plug into your printer and the ink gets fed to a print-head. Ink cartridges usually have a print-head built in and are sort of the ‘all-in-one’ of the printer world.

It is the printer cartridges that have print-heads built in that usually have chips or circuitry on them. They do so for a number of reasons…

Printer Cartridge Smart ChipPrimarily in this type of cartridge they are used so that the printer can communicate with the built in print-head and are necessary for the printer to work. As well as this they communicate other things to the printer such as ink levels.

This is were a lot of people run into trouble, it can be very frustrating when your printer starts telling you that the ink levels are low but in fact you know that there’s still some juice left in there! This is due to the fact that the cartridge doesn’t actually know how much ink is in the cartridge, it just counts down how many pages you have printed.

Another way the chip is used is to, in some cases, stop the cartridge being re-filled by third party companies. Some manufacturers just simply don’t like people re-using their cartridges as this usually means a loss for them, so once one of their cartridges runs out of ink, the cartridge will remember that it has no ink in even if it has been re-filled.

So that little chip on the bottom of your cartridge does a lot really… both good and bad. If you wish to learn more about printers and ink have a look at the blog of the firm I work for, which can be found on our printer cartridge site.