What to look for in a home printer – step-by-step guide

It can be hard to know what to look for in a home printer, especially when there are so many different types available, and each person may have different needs and requirements to fulfil. Sometimes you don’t even know what it is you need in a printer! Fear not though, as in this article I breakdown the key criteria that you need to look for when purchasing a home printer.

There are so many factors to consider when purchasing a printer that can be mind boggling. For instance, did you know that the type of printer you choose could put your printing bills through the roof? That’s not efficient business or use of limited student budgets.

With this guide, I share with you exactly what you need to know. By the end of this easy to follow guide, you will know exactly what your needs and desires are in terms of printing, scanning and photocopying. I also share plenty of tips on how to purchase the best printer without falling into the trap that many manufacturers set.

Want to know what that trap is?

More importantly, do you want to know how to avoid it? Read on to uncover the essentials guide to purchasing a home printer.

What to look for in a home printer - XPS Printer

Printer uses

The uses of a printer can fall into a number of categories:

  • Printing
  • Printing photos
  • Scanning
  • Photocopying

For most of you reading this article, the printing functionality will be an essential choice. Others may also need a scanner and/or a photocopying capability. If it is your first time purchasing a printer, you may be unsure of whether you need all of the functions or just some of them.

The same may apply to people who have an uncertain future ahead of them. For instance, if you are starting a college course or will be working from home, it would be wise to invest in a multifunctional printer to cover all your needs.

For people who need printing only:

Invest in an inkjet or laser printer to cater for your printing needs. Over the next few sections, you can narrow down which one suits you best.

For people who may need printing, scanning and photocopying:

Consider a multifunctional printer which can cater to all of these needs. It’s also much more space efficient and cost effective the purchase an all-in-one printer compared with buying three individual pieces of hardware.

Printing type

  • Printing black and white documents
  • Printing black and white and color documents
  • Printing photos
What to look for in a home printer - Woman printing at photocopier

Types of ink

The type of printer that you choose primarily based on the amount of printing you intend to complete at what you plan to print.

Printers generally come in two types of ink format: inkjet and laser.


Inkjet printers consume the majority of the market because they can print virtually anything. From word documents to PowerPoint charts to glossy photos, the color inkjet printer is an all-rounder that will cater to most home workers, students and general household needs.

There are 3 main types of ink cartridges:

Two ink cartridges: One black cartridge and color cartridge

Four ink cartridges: One black cartridge, one cyan cartridge, one magenta and one yellow cartridge

Inkwells: Refillable inkwells are topped up by yourself instead of purchasing new cartridges


Laser printers are synonymous with printing monochrome (i.e., black and white) at faster speeds than an inkjet printer. This often makes them a popular choice for offices that print in black and white.

Monochrome laser printers are usually affordably priced. In addition, the cost of laser toner is generally cheaper than the cost of color inkjet. This would be particularly important for offices which print frequently in black and white and desire to keep the costs down.

Laser printers are also available in color, but they generally cost much more per page to print then a color inkjet printer.

So, which printer ink suits me best?

If you are someone who is working at home or in an office or you are studying at home, and you anticipate that you will regularly print black and white documents, a laser printer may be the choice for you.

However, if color printing is something that you feel your need, a color inkjet printer is probably your best option.

Two ink cartridges may suffice if you tend to print documents which have primarily text and a small number of images.

Regular users may find that for cartridge for ink cartridges or the inkwell provide adequate quality further routine printing.

For professional grade quality, laser printers offer a higher quality printout in color compared to ink cartridges.

Did you know? Laser print cartridges can print about 20,000 pages before they need to be replaced, whereas ink cartridges can print around 2,500 pages.

What to look for in a home printer - Ink cartridges in printer

Printer Connection

With advances in Wi-Fi and cloud printing now becoming more readily available, the requirement to connect true a physical cable simply to print objects is becoming a thing of the past.


Nowadays, most modern printers offer multiple means of connecting to a printer; the benefits of this are endless when you think about the fact that you can store a printer anywhere in the house as opposed to next year laptop. It also means a more efficient work environment as you don’t have to keep connecting cables or sending content from your phone or tablet to your email address just to print it off your computer.

I personally love the fact that I don’t have to risk falling over cables or have to walk to the printer every single time I print something. My efficiency levels have since gone through the roof; however, my fitness tracker doesn’t look as impressive – RIP higher steps count…

USB: Printers will generally still have this option. I for one, am personally delighted because sometimes the Wi-Fi may be down (it typically goes down when you have a project due), and it’s good to have a redundancy option. It can also save on the requirement to download software so that you can print through Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi: Most printers are now equipped with Wi-Fi connection; this requires you to connect the printer to the Wi-Fi during setup and then download some software onto your device to allow printing to commence. This means that you can print directly from almost any device, whether it’s your phone, laptop or tablet. Additionally, this comes in useful when there are multiple people or devices using the printer.

Tip: Ensure that your printer is located within the Wi-Fi range so that there is a strong connection.

Cloud Printing: This allows you to print wirelessly from most devices by routing jobs between your device and sending them to an internet connected printer.

NFC: NFC (Near-Field Communication) allows you to connect between your device and your printer simply by touching the device off a specific location on the printer to connect.

What to look for in a home printer - Wifi signal on black background

Cost of printer

So, if you’re a student or someone who doesn’t plan to spend a huge amount on a printer, you’re probably thinking of opting for the cheapest printer available, right?

Don’t become a victim to the printer marketing trap!

The price of a printer will be the most significant upfront costs that you will encounter. For that reason, you may be tempted to opt for a budget price printer instead of something slightly more upmarket.

However, budget printers and more expensive ink or toners go hand in hand, so don’t be surprised if you end up spending more in the long run on ink or toner because you skimped on the cost of a printer. The cost of ink section below will provide advice and tips on how to avoid this pitfall.

As for the different types of printers, you may be surprised that multifunctional printers are not extortionately expensive.

Surprisingly, when I went to complete a cost comparison of printers, the most popular result was the all-in-one inkjet printer. I had to refine my search to find the cost of unit that only prints.

An inkjet printer Can be purchased for as little as $30 but the cost are typically around $100 mark for a good quality piece of kit. Comparatively, an all-in-one inkjet printer is surprisingly similar in price with one of the top-rated units costing $130 to $150 and upwards. There are all-in-one inkjet printers as cheap as approximately $50, but these may cause you to fall into the price trap mentioned above and may not be as good quality.

According to Amazon, the best rated multifunctional monochrome laser printer range at the price of approximately $200. In comparison, a monochrome laser printer comes in at $120.

It may be somewhat surprising to see that the price difference between a printer and an all-in-one printer are relatively similar. If you are sitting on the fence and unsure of which type you need, it may be worth investing a little bit more to have some added comfort and functionality of a copier and scanner.

Printer typePrice
Inkjet printer$
Inkjet all-in-one printer$$
Laser monochrome printer$$
Laser all-in-one printer$$$

In summary, inkjet printers are generally cheaper to purchase than laser printers. Additionally, the price comparison between all-in-one printers and single function printers is relatively small.

What to look for in a home printer - Person using mastercard at laptop

Cost of ink

Besides the cost of the printer itself, your next consideration is the long-term costs of the ink, and this is where particular attention should be paid in terms of overall cost. Often, you’ll find that budget price printers typically have the most expensive ink. That is, after all, how they make a profit. This can ultimately be more expensive in the long run than if you opted for a slightly more expensive printer which has cheaper ink.

There are some simple tips that you can follow to avoid this trap:

  • Research and compare the cost of ink cartridges and toners for other printers
  • Determine if third party ink can be used in the printer or if it will affect the warranty
  • Identify the places that sell your ink or toner and determine if they sell it cheaper in bulk

In general, inkjet is typically less expensive to replace then their laser counterparts. However, bear in mind that if you engage in a significant amount of printing, the page yield by an inkjet printer is much lower than that of a laser printer.

Laser printers can print approximately 88% more pages per cartridge compared to an inkjet cartridge.

Did you know? Printing in color can cost as much as 10 – 15 cents per page, whereas printing in black and white can cost as little as 5 cents per page.

What to look for in a home printer - Black printer on table

Print quality

If professional quality printing output is required, a laser printer is going to offer the best quality. However, bear in mind that they are more expensive to buy and yield higher running costs.

For the likes of working at home, students and general home use, an inkjet printer should be more than sufficient. However, the quality of each inkjet printer can vary depending on several factors.

Fortunately, there’s a way to measure that.

Dots per inch (DPI) identifies the number of dots of ink but the printer can print on a square inch of paper.

In simple terms, it is a measurement which indicates how accurately a printer can replicate the pixels of the image.

Essentially, the greater the number of dots per inch, the finer the print quality. Inkjet printers can range from anywhere between 600 x 600 to 4800 x 4800 DPI.

For text output, a resolution ranging between 300 – 600 DPI should be sufficient.

What to look for in a home printer - Colour graphs on sheet

Print speed

This can be important criteria, especially in busy offices and places where printing a large number of documents occurs. Additionally, patience is on your short side, it may be consideration that you value. Older printers were typically exceptionally slow and would test the patience of the saint. Thankfully, the speed of more modern printers is now much faster.

So, if you are the owner of an old printer and you invest in a new printer, you will notice a pleasant increase in the rate that pages are spit out.

Pages per minute (PPM)
is a measurement to determine how fast a printer can print pages.

An average black and white printer tends to print around 15 to 20 pages per minute. Color is generally slower and averages approximately 10 to 15 pages per minute.

Did you know? The specifications of most printers are now tested by an international standard which has established a standardized approach to determining the procedures for calculating the spec of printers, e.g., pages per minute and dots per inch.

So, instead of manufacturers reporting outrageously good claims about printer speeds and quality, it is now determined by a standard instead. Now you can rest assured that the data you receive is more accurate.

What to look for in a home printer - Printer buttons


I hope you enjoyed this article. What do you look for in a printer? Would you prefer an inkjet or a laser printer? Please leave your comments and questions below.

Now that you have learned about printers, why not make your life a bit easier and discover the Essential work at home gadgets – 5 must have items! Can you guess what they are?

Some people are afraid to invest in equipment and gadgets to make their life easier and more efficient. If you’re someone who wants to advance in the world, this article is a must read.

So, regardless of whether you’re a student, working at home or simply performing activities in the office or routine household activities, after reading this article, you’ll start to wonder how you managed throughout these gadgets before!

What to look for in a home printer - Man photocopying paper




With years of both professional and first-hand experience in office equipment and work settings, I now want to help you avoid making mistakes that countless others do. Whether you're studying or working from home, this site will help you create the ultimate haven for working safely, comfortably and productively in!

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