What follows are some general principles, considerations and criteria to consider prior to making a purchase - as opposed to recommendations on specific technology.
At the end I ask you for your recommendations as to specific machines you use and are happy with. You'll see what I use in this blog.
What do you need it for?
Sit down and write out a list of what you want your machine to do.
- What are your priorities in terms of functions? Are all functions - scanning, printing copying of equal importance - or is one more important than another. For example I do very little copying but at times in the past I've used the scanner as much as I've printed
- Is space an issue? Does it need to be an "all in one" scanner/printer/copier? Or do you have the space for separate devices? There's no question that one device is easier to house - but this tends to come at the cost of performance which fall short of the best that is available in terms of the different functions
- standalone scanners tend to deliver better performance than scanners bundled into printers
- photo printers provide much better colour printing compared to 'normal' printers
- all devices have become better designed and tend to occupy a smaller footprint over time.
- What quality are you aiming for? Is the printer for personal or professional use? (i.e. do you aim to sell anything using images printed from your machine?)
- What quality does the black and white printing need to deliver? A machine which is excellent at printing text is not the same as a printer which delivers good quality black and white photos. They are totally different outputs and need totally different printers with completely different printer inks
- Does colour printing need to give you good quality photos? Colour printing quality varies enormously - from photos to party invites. Some printers are designed to print photos - while others just print in colour - but not to the same standard as a photo printer. If you want photo quality colour printing you have to be buy a photo printer.
- Is the cost of ink tolerable? The cost of ink is never reasonable - but you can decide whether or not ink costs are excessive. Look at how much ink costs relative to the number of sheets it will print. I discovered when deciding what my next printer would be that very cheap printers are often associated with more expensive inks - so beware!
- Consider the paper that a printer needs to use. Printers are very fussy about the different types of surfaces and weights (gsm) of paper stock that they will use. Many a person has totally screwed their printer by attempting to use the wrong type of paper stock which just gets stuck in the printer and refuses to come out! So first define what sort of paper stock you want to print on. If you want to print on high quality fine art paper designed for inkjets then you need to check what weight they will take.
- Are standalone scanners better than those bundled with printers. They generally are if they are a decent scanner - and very often have additional functionality (eg scan film). However you need to ask yourself whether you can justify the extra cost for the difference in functionality. For example being able to upgrade from A4 to A3 size is a big thing for a lot of artists - however A3 printers in the past have either been expensive or not performed well. The first A3 printer which gets ace reviews from everyone will sell well!
After considering all the above, this is the machine I currently use which I got last year.