Which Printer to buy?

It all depends on your required end result - the printed document.

Printers are essential; not only for business, but also for home computer users, students and teachers.

One can choose from many commercial brands, but there are only a few different printer types on the market.
The most popular are dot matrix, inkjet and laser printers.
To further complicate things, there are also all-in-ones (multifunction printers, or MFPs), which print, scan, copy and fax (PSCF) and, finally, portable printers, which are usually inkjets.

Printing shops often have "large format" inkjet printers available for printing very large posters and banners, or "wraps", which can even cover cars, or an entire multi-story building.

Duplex Printers provide automatic printing on both sides of the paper, saving time and reducing paper usage.
Each of these have their pros and cons, or advantages and disadvantages.

Individual required outcomes will determine which type of printer is right for the job.

Printers, like most other mechanical devices, function best if maintained and serviced regularly.
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Dot Matrix (Impact) Printers

Mostly used in businesses like pharmacies, packaging operations etc. for printing individualised labels for medication, as well as invoices, labels and receipts, when high quality text or graphics are not needed.

They normally use a Black carbon based ribbon casette and are quite inexpensive to operate.
Multiple copies are possible with multipart paper.

Can be slow and noisy.
Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers form characters and images by pumping extremely tiny droplets of ink through nozzles in a print head.

Normally, the black cartridge is accompanied by either a combined colour cartridge (tri-colour) or a number of completely separate, individual colour cartridges.
Most inkjets print images quickly and relatively inexpensively as opposed to laser.

Inkjet cartridges range in price from around R80 to R400, depending on their volume.
Laser Printers

Laser printers use toner in a similar fashion to copy machines.
Mono (Black-and-White) laser printers can produce 12 to 30-odd pages per minute and can print thousands of pages from a single toner cartridge, costing from around R650 to R1200, and beyond.

Laser printers represent a great choice for those who want to print a lot of black text, but they're a little less effective at colour printing as opposed to inkjet printers.
They're also far more expensive, both in initial cost, as well as on a "per cartridge" basis.
All-In-One Printers - MFP
(Multi Function Printers)

Combining the functionality of printer, scanner, copier and sometimes a fax, into one device, all-in-one printers don't cost that much more than other printers, but they do tend to be bulky.
If you have a small/home office, an all-in-one printer may be a great device to invest in, even if you're pressed for space.
Consider separate machines for each function only if you have the space and if you are very dependent on your electronic peripherals.

These MFPs come in both inkjet and laser models, and the choice depends largely on the volume and nature of usage.

Fax, copy and print functions make use of the same cartridge source.
An all-in-one printer may not be your best choice, as many multi-functional machines will not operate at all if any one function is out of commission, even, say, one empty cartridge.
Also, many don't multi-task, so one can't send a fax whilst printing a document.

MFP maintenance costs are naturally higher that those of a single function machine, and they generally use more electricity.

Portable (Inkjet) Printers

Extremely small and slimlined, these are also referred to as personal or mobile printers.
Portable printers can fit into a briefcase and are a great option for those needing to print "on the go."

Most of these are able to run on a removable battery and can even print images via a USB flash drive (without a computer).


Solid Ink Printers

Still not all that common, these machines make use of a wax-like substance, which is melted and dispersed over the paper, or other material in use.
Sometimes called "Phaser", there are several disadvantages in the time wasted between tasks, ie. reaching the ideal temperature, even when wanting to move the machine from one place to another.
Considerations When Choosing a Printer:

How many pages per week/month? Output/volume; which materials?
What speed is required? Is heavy-duty equipment required?
Quality needed? Resolution of Photo quality?
Location of printer? How much space is available?
Is noise a factor? Multiple/carbon copies required?        
Cost of ink or toner? Number of cartridges?
How much does it cost per page? How is that number measured?
Photo quality inks are more expensive!