Choosing the Right Computer, Part 4:
The Printer

[Ed. Note: See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series for more information.]

No monitor – no matter how well calibrated – can let you see exactly what your designs look like. In order to do that, you need a good printer.

If you currently have a printer that works well, you don’t have to rush out today and buy one of the ones recommended by our five graphic-design experts. But when the time comes to replace yours, the following is a good starting place for making your decision:

Lori Haller:
Since I provide Acrobat PDF files for client approval 99% of the time, I really don’t send color print outs to my clients any more for proofing. I just use a simple HP LasertJet2300n black and white printer so I can print out for checking font sizes and keeping special emails in folders for future reference. I have a color laser printer also, but as technology has changed, it really is not used very often.

Roger Parker:
Avoid cheap inkjet printers. Their supply costs quickly mount. My best printer is a laser printer with duplex (two-sided) capability. Automatically printing on both sides of a single sheet of paper is a major advantage, cuts paper and storage costs by 50%.

I’ve had a variety of color output devices and find a color laser really great for proofing and preparing audience handouts for presentations, newsletters, etc.

Dennis Rome:
My primary printer is an HP LaserJet – a fast one. I also have an HP DeskJet color printer on my desktop backup PC that is shared across my home office wireless network for easy access.

Mike Klassen:
HP Deskjet 5650 (inkjet). Mine will automatically turn the paper over to print on the back, which saves paper. I also like to buy printers at Costco, because they normally sell the ink cartridges far cheaper than most other places.

Kammy Thurman:
I have a b/w laser printer that I use for letters and basic design drafts. I have an inkjet for color work (mainly to cross-check colors I’m using in designs). We’re researching large professional printers – and we’ve about settled on an Epson, because we want to be able to run archival-quality photo prints up to 16” x 24”. We will also be using it to produce marketing materials for my business and my husband’s photography business.

When you’re ready to buy a printer, do not let price be your sole deciding factor. A slow printer may make the work flow difficult for you. Automatic duplex (two-sided) printing may make it easier.

Check to see how much inkjet or laser supplies cost. A more expensive printer that uses less expensive supplies may make up for the difference in cost in less than a year.

Be sure to know what you want to use the printer for. For instance, if you never plan on printing photos with it, you may wish to avoid printers classified as “photo printers.” But if you want to print photos on your new printer in addition to your graphic work, the photo print feature could be a plus.

One last bit of advice: Ask friends and associates what printer they use and what they like … and dislike … about them.

Choosing a good printer is just one of many decisions you’ll have to make when setting up your business. If you want to learn more about how to do it with a minimum of hassle and stress, check out AWAI’s New Graphic Design Biz-In-A-Box Program.

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Published: September 22, 2005

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