4) Printer speed, and the ability to take the pace
Everyone wants a printer that provides good quality for a wide range of documents, but there are other features to consider, too.
Creatives may need to print many different types of documents – from hi-res illustrations to invoices, so it’s important that they choose a fast, reliable printer that can cope with a heavy workload. This is one area where you get what you pay for – cheaper printers in the sub-£100 category tend to be slower, and aimed at home users who only need to print the occasional document or photo.
A £150-£300 printer is good if you want to use it to help run your business, but if you want something to create saleable gallery prints or produce concept drawings or site mock-ups to wow your clients, look to spend between £300 and £700 for an A3+ model.
It’s also worth looking out for other useful features, such as high-capacity paper trays capable of holding hundreds of sheets of paper, or an automatic document feeder that can handle scanning and copying work while you go and do something more important. Double-sided printing is also handy.
Just remember that the speeds quoted by manufacturers aren’t always ‘real world’ printing speeds. If a printer claims to turn out 30 pages per minute, you’ll probably find that you only get that speed using a low-quality ‘draft’ mode in perfect conditions. Actual printing speeds for high-quality printing may be less than half the manufacturer’s quoted figure – consult reputable reviews websites such as Digital Arts for true real-world figures.
Business users will want a robust printer with high-speed and paper capacity.
5) How do I look?
A key factor to finding the right number of is the number of inks used to print photographs and artwork. Canon and Epson is a favourite with many photographers thanks to their use of eight-10 separate inks in many of their Pixma Pro and Stylus Photo range of printers (respectively), as these really do produce excellent results for photo printing.
It’s also worth thinking about the bundled software that comes with your printer. Some printers come with plug-ins for Photoshop to help you ensure that what comes out of your printer is an exact match for what you’ve spent so long creating on screen.
Other printers offer some intriguing possibilities. We’ve even seen one new printer from Kodak that lets you print 3D photos and includes its own 3D glasses.
Printers that use five or even six coloured inks can produce excellent photo prints.