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When buying a printer, make sure you check out the following specifications. 

Types of Printers

The 1st aspect that you have to consider is the purpose of buying a printer.  Is it for home use or are you going to use it in the office?  Do you need high quality or very high-quality print-outs?  The following table might help you to decide on the type of printer that suits you: 

Types of Printer


Typical Use

Ink-Jet Printer

It sprays droplets of ink at high-speed onto the surface of the paper.  It is the most popular printer today.  [Uses Ink Cartridge]


  • It produces high-quality output.  It is inexpensive.

Internal and External Communications, Advertising works

Laser Printer

It uses photocopying technology.  Mainly for office use where quality is quality matters.  [Uses Laser Toners]


  • It produces very high-quality output. 
  • It is extremely quiet
  • It is also the fastest.


  • It is more expensive than ink-jet printers.

External Communications,

Desktop Publishing (e.g. Microsoft Publisher)

Dot Matrix Printer

It uses pins on the print head to produce output.  [Uses Dot Matrix Ribbon]


  • Output quality is inconsistent after the 1st round of ribbon usage. (You may reuse until it fades) 
  • It is also quite noisy.
  • It produces only black output.

Internal Communications, Receipts, Invoices

Thermal Printer

It uses heat to produce text and images on heat-sensitive paper.  It is mostly used by art and design professionals.


  • It produces very high-quality output.

Art and Design works

Although laser toners are more costly than ink cartridges, toners can be used longer.

Speed and Quality of Printers

Speed of printer is determined by PPM (Page Per Minute).  Obviously, the higher the PPM of a printer, the faster or more pages it can print.  (E.g. 17 ppm)

The quality of print-outs depends on DPI (Dot Per Inch) of the printer.  The higher the DPI of a printer, the better the quality of output.  Its simply because it packs more dots into an inch.  (E.g. 4800x1200 dpi)

While those are true hardware architectures, you can also tweak the speed and quality of output via software configurations.

Other Considerations

  • All-in-one / 4 in 1 / 3 in 1 Printer:  It is a multi-functional printer that consists of printer, scanner, and copier.  Some printers also have fax features.
  • Portable Printer
  • Canon BCI-6 ink Printer:  It is an individual-color-cartridge printer, which consists of CMY, Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Black
    (A standard color printer uses uses a single cartridge that houses all 3 colors: CMY - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow)
  • Borderless Printer:  It lets you print until the edge of the paper.