So, you’re looking for a new wireless printer but aren’t quite sure which one you should buy. Perfect. You’ve come to the right place. There are many wireless printers out there, and each has its own pros and cons. We’ll go over everything you need to know about the different types of wireless printers on the market so that you can choose the right one for you. We’ll also look at some of the features you should keep an eye out for when shopping for a new wireless printer.
Inkjet or Laser?
There are two main types of wireless printers—inkjet and laser—and each type can then be divided into several categories. The two types are inkjet wireless printers and laser wireless printers , and which one will work best for you ultimately comes down to what you need to print and how often you need to print it. Let’s look at the differences between the two so that you can determine which type you need.
Inkjet Wireless Printers
Inkjet printers are the most common. There’s a good reason why so many people choose to buy them; they can print almost anything from basic documents to professional glossy photos and everything in between. Inkjet printers use ink cartridges to apply ink to wet paper, which dries rapidly as your file prints. Without a doubt, inkjet printers can print better quality colours than laser printers. So, if you plan to be printing pie charts or high-quality photos, then you should definitely choose a colour inkjet wireless over a laser printer.
Laser Wireless Printers
On the other hand, laser wireless printers use toner instead of ink cartridges. The toner is bonded directly to the paper, which makes laser printers, in general, a much more efficient option for those printing large volumes. Laser printers also typically print faster than their inkjet counterparts, and the toner lasts much longer than an inkjet ink cartridge, which means that you’ll be able to print up to 20,000 pages with a toner refill. In contrast, inkjet ink cartridges generally need to be replaced after only 2,500 pages; that’s quite a dramatic difference.
So, if you want to print high-quality colour photos and don’t mind spending much more money on ink, then go with an inkjet wireless printer. But if you are buying for an office, are primarily printing documents in black and white, and don’t feel like buying ink every other day then a laser wireless printer is your best bet.
Compact, Portable, or Desktop?
Once you decide which type of wireless printer to buy, your next consideration should be which size printer you need. There are a few different sizes commonly available, including compact, portable, and desktop wireless printers.
Compact Wireless Printers
With the exception of portable wireless printers, compact printers are typically the smallest printers available. For this reason, compact wireless printers are well suited for home offices, or anywhere else where space is at a premium. Compact printers come in all shapes and sizes, with premium models being available for those who have a bigger budget and lower-quality options for those who only need to print basic documents or have less money to spend on a printer.
Portable Wireless Printers
Portable wireless printers are designed to be moved from place to place easily, and as such, they are generally the smallest and lightest printers on the market.
Despite their small size, portable wireless printers can produce incredibly crisp, sharp colours and are by no means lesser printers than their larger, more cumbersome counterparts, but they do come with a steeper price tag.
Desktop Wireless Printers
The largest non-commercial printers are desktop wireless printers, which are best suited to large home offices, large private offices, or those with large desks that can spare the space for a printer. As with compact printers, desktop wireless printers are available with different levels of quality and different features depending on your needs and budget.
So, now that you know which type of printer you need and you’ve decided which size printer you want to buy, you can start comparing the features of different models to determine which features you need in your new wireless printer. One of the most important considerations for many people is the speed at which the printer can print photos and documents.
If you don’t print often, or don’t print a large volume, then an inkjet printer will work just fine. But for office applications or those who print a lot of paperwork, a laser printer is the better choice as laser printers print much faster than colour inkjets. That said, inkjet printers have come a long way, and the higher-end models are now able to print at speeds approaching a mid-grade laser printer.
Network and Wireless Connectivity
Let’s face it, the best feature of any wireless printer is that it’s wireless, and so network and connectivity options are of primary importance. Different models feature various network and connectivity features, with the most common options being Wi-Fi or LAN-based.
Most wireless printers will work over any Wi-Fi network but double-check to make sure that the printer works with intranet and in LAN environments if that’s something you need. These days, many models also support Bluetooth, so keep an eye out for that as well.
So How Does a Wireless Printer Work?
The premise is fairly simple; basically, a wireless printer does the exact same thing as the older wired printers do—they print things. The difference is that wireless printers receive the files to be printed over a Wi-Fi or local network rather than via a physical cable running from your device to the printer, which means no more tripping over wires or worrying about damaged cables.
Apple Airprint is a new technology that’s available with most iOS and OS X devices. The major benefit of Airprint is that it allows you to print directly from your iPhone or another compatible Apple device without the need to download any additional software or install and constantly update device drivers.
Airprint is relatively easy to use and has been integrated into most of the good wireless printers on the market today. All you need to do is ensure that the printer you want to print to is running on the same Wi-Fi network as your Apple device, and you should be good to go.
So, if you have an Apple device, then check to make sure that the wireless printer you’re considering features Apple Airprint compatibility, as it’s a really nice feature to have.
It used to be the case that printers more or less only printed documents, but these days there are all-in-one models that can do much more than just print words. If you both print and scan more than a few times a week or routinely need to scan both sides of a document, having an all-in-one is probably worth the cost. But if you don’t scan much, you can look for a cheap print-only machine and a good scanning app. So, before you make the investment, be sure that the printer features additional settings such as scanning and printing colour photos.
Being able to scan a document to your computer or another device is a very nice feature to have in a wireless printer. You may need to upload a physical document so that you can send it to someone, or you may need to edit a physical document before reprinting it. In these cases, having a high-resolution scanner on hand is an invaluable asset for any student or business professional.
Sometimes you don’t need to print, but instead, you need to copy a document that you already have in hand. In days gone by, you would need a copy machine such as a Xerox to do this, but nowadays, many all-in-one printers can copy documents, and some can even copy colour photos, which is a nice feature to have in any home office.
You might think that faxing documents is a relic from the ’80s, but the truth is that millions of documents still get faxed every day for business purposes. For this reason, it’s always a nice feature to have, especially if you are working remotely and need to send physical documents to your colleagues, clients, or co-workers.
As is generally the case in life, more is better than less, and the same is true when it comes to features in a wireless printer—try to select one that can do the most for you because you never know when you might need a certain feature.
Photo Printers and Instant Photo Printers
If you are somebody who takes a lot of photos, and you need the highest possible quality, then you may want to consider a photo printer or even an instant photo printer. These are printers that have been designed specifically for printing photos and generally offer the highest quality, but they can be very expensive.
A great alternative is to find an all-in-one printer that features colour photo or instant photo printing capability. These days, many of the best brands such as Epson, Canon, and HP offer all-in-one printers that can print beautiful photos with vivid colour. Many of these printers are less expensive than photo printers, plus, some of them can scan, fax, and photocopy, making them a versatile choice and a great-value option to consider.
What Will It Really Cost?
There are wireless printers on the market to suit most budgets, but aside from the actual cost of purchasing the printer, you should also factor in the cost of ink or toner, which does add up quite quickly over time.
Colour inkjet printers are the most expensive in terms of buying ink. Ink cartridges can easily cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year, depending on how often you print and how quickly you go through them.
Conversely, toner for laser wireless printers lasts much longer, almost 10x longer than ink cartridges, and so for that reason, laser printers will cost you significantly less over time when you factor in the cost of operating the printer.
Another cost to consider is the printer’s power consumption, but unless you are running a print shop, odds are that the printer won’t make a significant dent in your electricity bill. That said, be sure to check the energy efficiency of your printer just in case, and if you will be using it all day every day, then try to find a printer that’s rated well for energy efficiency.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Printers are much better than they used to be; they print faster and with much higher quality than the older printers of yesteryear. That said, there are many types, styles, and features available, so it’s important to consider your needs and choose your new wireless printer accordingly.
As a general rule of thumb, those looking to print high-quality colour photos should choose an inkjet, and people who need to print a lot of black and white documents should choose a laser wireless printer. When in doubt, choose an all-in-one wireless printer that offers additional functions and features such as scanning, photocopying, and printing colour photos—these printers do the most for you and can often be found with a price tag that won’t break the bank.
At the end of the day, one thing is certain: no matter which wireless printer you choose, you’ll be happy to have those cumbersome wires out of your life for good.