how do I choose a printer?

  bilboboggins2 17:31 20 Sep 2014

Hello everyone one,

I'm in a bit of trouble. I'm moving away for college in about a week, and I realised, despite all my meticulous lists and planning, I've overlooked something fairly massive. A printer. I've done some looking around, and have found a couple of printers that look okay and are within my budget (around about £100), but the problem is that I really don't know what I need. I see some printers that print in colour, but beyond that, I'm not sure what differentiates them. So I wonder if anyone can recommend any brand or specific make of printer to me? Some information on what I need it for: I'm doing a Games Art course, so I will be printing everything from greyscale thumbnails and roughs and WIPs to many (hopefully) colourful and lively final illustrations. The course has a digital hand-in option at the end, but there will be a lot of traditional work, too. I personally find it easiest to observe my work in a sketchbook format, and as such I often print out digital work and stick it into my book alongside sketches and handwritten text and mix it all in together. That way it's easier to piece together a coherent narrative for an entire project VS jigsawing together pieces of traditional work in front of me with digital files on a computer. What I'm getting at here, is that the images will be printed on 70-90gsm printer paper, Pritt-sticked into a sketchbook and sometimes scribbled on. The printer doesn't need to be producing massively high-quality prints on any kind of regular basis. But, you know, they are still gonna be colour images mostly, as opposed to word docs. I want to get a decent range of values displaying nicely, as the images I'll be printing often have values going from almost-black to almost-white.

It needs to print as close to what I have on my screen as possible. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but so many printers I've used oversaturate colours, bugger up the contrast, lose detail in the blacks, etc... I need something with fairly customisable settings, I think. As it is, I have my monitor set up to display as close to true colour as I can get it without spending £100 on one of those spider-bots that you stick to your screen to calibrate it.

To be honest I don't know much about the topic, so if anyone can explain what I'm looking for, or link me to an article, or just generally give me some advice on how to get decent prints, that'd be equally as helpful. I understand that laser-jets are generally cheaper on ink?

Thanks a bunch guys.

I'd like to apologise in advance if this isn't the right place to post this.

  john bunyan 20:41 20 Sep 2014

I think it is worth getting an all - in - one scanner / printer. Only from my own personal experience I think fro print quality - photos in particular - Canon has an edge, but are a bit dearer than some. Although , again, more expensive, I prefer to use the Canon inks. However my grand daughter at 19 has just completed her first year at UCL and I bought her a Brother all in one and she uses inks from Cartridge world. Have a look at both ranges. Canon has a separate print head - useful in the unlikely event of clotting. As a single recommend have a look here at a Canon from John Lewis . You may not need wireless printing so have a look at others in the Canon range. Others swear by other makes, but this is a start.

Canon J Lewis

  bilboboggins2 23:21 20 Sep 2014

Thanks, I'll check that out.

  HondaMan 11:16 21 Sep 2014

I use both Canon and Epson inkjets and an Oki colour laser.

For running costs the laser is cheapest and a small colour laser can be had for about your price. However, a Canon multi-function would probably suit you better. I find the Canon, mine's an IP8500 which has 3 paper feed paths to be the best all-rounder. It is no lo9nger available, but its replacement is and I believe has a scanner as well.

You probably do not need a fax as most things these days can be sent via email.

  spuds 12:53 21 Sep 2014

You appear to mention that you are seeking 'true' colour on the end product, and taking this in mind, you must select a printer that the manufacturer states that their cartridges will do this deed. Some cartridges come with very fancy titles of perfection, and this is something that you may need to research.

On the printer side, I have a number of different branded printer's, mainly four-in-ones. The reason for this, is on the basis that when things seem to be going wrong, a new replacement is usually the cheapest and best option, going on the price of printer's nowadays.

The manufacturer's make most of their money, from their own brand cartridges, which in some cases can nearly amount to the cost of a printer, if a full set is purchased. Which is another thing to look for, whether the printer as 4 or less cartridges, which could lead to capacity problems and frequent replacements.

My own need are limited now, and I use compatibles, ciss or self-fill systems, which brings costs down considerably. Ebay or Amazon will usually confirm if ciss or self-fills are available for a particular model of printer. compatibles are also available from the same sources.

My last printer purchase was a Brother DCP-135C all-in-one, which I find is a remarkable product and cost saver. This product is now discontinued, but a new number model is available, which contains the same internals to that of the DCP-135C.

What I would suggest, is to go to somewhere like PC World/Currys, have a look, talk to a 'technical' assistant, outlining your requirements. Check prices on the internet, then go from there.

One further thing perhaps worth a mention. In the case of the Brother purchase, I found a card inside the box, that gave a further two years warranty for 'free' on top of the 12 months suggested, just by registering the product. That little surprise bundle came via Rymans, delivered next day, for the pricely sum of either £39.99 or £49.99 (forget which now).

  wee eddie 14:04 21 Sep 2014

Coming at this from another angle:

Your University will, almost certainly, have Scanners and Printers available for Student Use.

Buy a Couple of USB Sticks and use the College ones for a month or so.

Listen to those around you as they curse, or praise, their purchases. Find out the most reliable local Suppliers, if it goes wrong they will be just around the corner - not close to your home. College Rooms tend to be tiny and Multi-function Printer/Scanner's are bulky, and their Scanners not of the highest resolution. So separates may make more sense and much lighter to move when your accommodation changes.

Buy a Printer with separate coloured Ink Tanks and the possibility of a mega Black Ink Tank.

  john bunyan 16:01 21 Sep 2014

If you are near a Cartridge World shop they sell a few multi purpose printers, including Canon and Brother. I think you would get better advice there as printing etc is their "bread and butter" whereas Currys, PC World etc do not have the same depth of knowledge. Also, Cartridge World offer good ink compatibles (a little dearer than mail order but worth it.

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