Printing buying guide
There’s a printer that can bring your pictures, files and ideas to life quickly and easily.
Printing technology has developed considerably in recent years, so if you want to upgrade an older model or you’re getting started in home printing, you might be amazed at the exciting new features on modern printers.
We’ve created this guide to help you learn more about the most important things to consider when buying a printer, and to help you find the one that best meets your needs.
Type of printer
There are several different types of printers to suit different needs, uses and people. Whether you’re a student, business user, photographer, or simply need to print the odd ticket or family photo, we have a printer that will work for you.
What are inkjet printers?
From mobile printing to dealing with the occasional ream of school, college or university work, inkjet printers are ideal for everyday home use.
Typically, inkjet printers deliver better photographs than laser printers, with a number of high quality inkjets making the most of everything from smartphone snaps to high quality DSLR photography. Generally, a full set of replacement ink cartridges are cheaper than laser toner too, making them perfect for home and photographic use.
What are laser printers?
Laser printers are designed for more frequent use and are suitable for offices or homes that regularly print in large amounts. Perfect for black and white documents and high speed batch printing, laser printers are built for demanding use.
While toner cartridges cost more than their inkjet counterparts, their page yield is higher (typically over 1400 pages). So while the initial purchase and toner price may seem high, the cost-per-page can work out cheaper over time.
What are all in one printers?
Combining a scanner, copier and printer, all-in-one printers provide everything you need for comprehensive home printing. They are available in both inkjet and laser varieties, letting you benefit from home scanning and copying whatever your ink preference.
Some even feature an integrated fax machine, which makes them the ideal printing solution for busy homes and small offices.
Many all-in-ones with fax machines also feature dual and large capacity paper trays, making it easy to switch between high quality photo paper and everyday A4 and A3.
What are 3D printers?
3D printers are gradually becoming more accessible for home use, and offer an exciting entry into rapid prototyping and small scale manufacturing. Whatever you can design, you can create, so whether you want to test-fit parts before expensive machining or simply fancy knocking up a unique phone case, 3D printers make complex manufacturing easy.
I am a student, what printer should I buy?
I am a business user, what printer should I buy?
I want to print professional looking photos, what printer should I buy?
Wireless printing enables you to print documents from your computer, without the need to connect your PC and printer with a cable. As a result, you'll be able to print from anywhere in your home, allowing the entire family to share a single printer, so you’ll save money and reduce clutter.
Can I print from my Android device?
Can I print from my iOS device?
It is important to consider ink when purchasing a printer, as often a cheaper printer requires more expensive ink and vice-versa. There are also a handful of different ways to top up your printer with ink that can make printing easier and save you money.
What is HP Instant Ink?
HP Instant Ink is an instant ink replacement service which is automatically ordered by your printer, and delivered to your door. This service is available on all eligible HP printers, and all you need to do is enroll on a fixed monthly fee plan which determines a pre-defined number of pages per month. Ink is automatically posted to your address whenever it’s required, with the monthly payment inclusive of postage and recycling.
Instant Ink can help you save money and ensures you always have ink when you need it.
What is Epson EcoTank?
Epson EcoTank printers feature unique ink tanks that can be refilled and topped-up as necessary using cost-effective ink bottles. The bottles provide up to 6500 prints each, and can help you reduce printing costs by up to 65% - ideal for offices and busy homes. For most people, that's two year’s worth of ink.
The top-up bottles contain genuine Epson ink that has been designed to work perfectly with the EcoTank printers, so you can rely on the best quality results regardless of how often you use it.
Inkjet vs laser
Inkjet printers use ink cartridges which are usually cheaper to replace than their laser counterparts, although the page yield is lower. If you aren’t anticipating heavy use or you predominately print photographs or high colour images, an inkjet printer will provide exceptional images without breaking the bank when new ink is needed.
While laser toner cartridges are more costly than those of an inkjet printer, they can offer a greater yield along with vastly improved print speeds. If you find yourself regularly printing in large quantities, a laser or office spec inkjet printer is worth considering.
Block vs individual ink
Inkjet printers either feature individual inks or block inks. Printers with individual inks have an individual cartridge for each colour, typically single cartridges for black, cyan, magenta and yellow. They’re great if your regularly print photos or documents with single colour letter heads, as you can replace the most used colours when you need to. Some high-end photo printers also have additional cartridges for grey, or photo-specific blacks, which enables them to deliver more natural colours with deeper contrast.
Block ink combines the three main colours into a single unit. They tend to be cheaper than buying each ink separately, so a printer with block inks is a great choice if you don’t print that often.
Multipack and combination ink packs
XL & XXL ink packs
Extra-large Ink or Toner cartridges offer greater value for money by giving you a high page yield (more pages from a single cartridge), which reduces the cost to print per page.
Page yield is a way to measure the cost of printing each page. This is calculated using industry standard testing guidelines.
While the approximate page yield can be a good guideline for determining general usage allowance, it’s important to be aware that page yield can vary depending on the types of pages you choose to print. For example, printing high definition photos will use more ink than basic text documents.
Wireless printers connect to your PC or Mac using your home WiFi network and can be accessed from anywhere in your house, meaning you don’t even have to be in the same room to print.
Several computers and mobile devices can use the same printer, which can be placed in the most convenient location for you and your household.
If you want to wirelessly print from a tablet or smartphone, you’ll need a printer that features AirPrint, Google Cloud Print or email printing. See below for more information.
WiFi Direct/Wireless Direct
Apple AirPrint allows you to print directly from Apple iOS products and comes built in to iPhones from the 3GS and up, 3rd generation iPods onwards and all iPads.
Look for Apple AirPrint as a highlighted feature within our range to ensure you can print from your favourite Apple device.
Google Cloud print
Google Cloud Print is included on all Android devices and lets you print wirelessly from your tablet or smartphone. Simply create or log into a Gmail/Google account to get started.
Look for Cloud Print as a highlighted feature to ensure you’ll be able to print from your Android device.
Near field communication (NFC) is a relatively new feature to printers. Often included on tablets and smartphones, it allows two devices to connect simply by touching together, making syncing a printer with another NFC device effortless.
Look for NFC as a highlighted feature on our range of wireless printers.
Email printing is a feature available on selected HP printers and provides wireless printing from any email capable device. Each printer has a unique, customisable email address and once connected to your home WiFi, prints any images or text documents it receives.
Most manufacturers have their own version of email printing. Look out for ‘email printing’ as a highlighted feature within our printing range.
Print quality DPI
DPI stands for dots per inch and is a basic measure of print quality. A printer with a higher DPI delivers clear, detailed pictures although other factors such as ink play a part in overall print quality.
If you’re looking for vibrant, lifelike photographs, a good quality inkjet printer provides enhanced colour reproduction and the glossy, developed-photo look that makes for a fantastic printed image.
The most commonly printed page size is A4 and the vast majority of our printers print in this format. Many printers also print smaller, so whether you want the familiar 6 x 4 developed-photo size or specialist envelope sizes, most accept a wide range of photo and document paper.
For larger prints, we stock a range of A3 printers that print in various sizes up to A3. Some are no bigger than A4 printers, making them ideal for small offices or homes where space is at a premium.
Double sided print
An automatic document feeder (ADF) allows you to scan or copy multiple documents simultaneously, without having to manually insert individual pages.
They can be found on scanners and all-in-one printers and are usually located on top of the scanner or within the main paper tray.