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Cheap Printers Best Buy Printers for Home and Office

Updated on October 6, 2010

Best Buy Printers - Budget Printers Buying Guide

When it comes to top budget printers there are plenty of options. However, sorting out which home office printers are cheap printers with poor print quality that won't last versus value printers that provide good print quality with long lasting build quality can be pretty difficult.

At first, finding the best printer seems like a matter of just looking over the printer information sheets to compare printer specs. Unfortunately, the manufacturer specifications aren't much help. Printer companies have figured out all manner of ways to game the system and the specs they report are often far from the reality of how their printers will actually be used.

For example, printer specifications Pages Per Minute, or PPM are reported based upon printing only black and white (even for color printers), in draft mode, for very little text and no graphics, on each page. In other words, that 40 PPM is probably nowhere close to how many pages per minute will really print when you are using it to print those annual reports.

Other printer specs are likewise skewed. DPI has virtually nothing to do with quality anymore. Duty Cycle or Intended Usage or Printed Pages per Month are not a standard measurement and vary greatly across manufacturers. One printer maker may claim its printer is Heavy Duty and can print 25,000 pages per month, while another printer company would consider the same amount of pages to be Medium Duty. Comparing the raw numbers is no help either since there is no standard about what the average amount of printing should be each month.

Will printing 5,000 pages per month mean the printer will most likely fail after 3 years, 4 years, even just 1 year, or does printing 10,000 pages each month mean the printer will likely last 10 years? Either way, it is easy to either spend too much money buying a printer than can handle way more than you need or to buy what sounds like a solid printer on paper only to burn it out quickly.

Cheap Printers for Home Office

Whether it is for personal use at home or for a small business in a home office, getting a cheap but reliable printer with high print quality is one of the smartest moves to reduce expenses and increase productivity. But, since printer specs comparisons are virtually worthless, how can one find cheap reliable quality printers?

It is no secret that HP makes some of the best cheap printers on the market for both personal and business use. HP printers have good prices as well because the business model for the company relies on making its profit on selling toner and ink. This is why they go out of their way to warn buyers against using generic inks and toners even if third-party toners and inks are just as high quality.

Unfortunately, brand name HP toner can be very expensive. Which brings up a very important point to consider when comparing printer prices online or in stores: always factor in the cost of toner and ink when buying a printer. Not only that, but HP has abandoned several printers that are not very old. There will be no Windows 7 print drivers for HP LaserJet 1012 printers released by the company.

Best Cheap Printers

How to find cheap printers?

The best way to find top cheap printers is to search online at numerous retailers. Although the printer specifications are often skewed, actual printer functions and features cannot be faked. Therefore, smart shoppers will compare actual features instead of things like print speed and print quality numbers.

Look for things like duplex printing, also called duplexing, which is when a printer can automatically print both front and back of the paper. Beware of asterisks or those little footnote numbers. Often times reading the fine print will show that the printer can't actually duplex print at all, but instead it will allow for "manual duplex printing" which is when the printer prints all of the fronts first, then the user picks up the paper, turns it over and then re-feeds it back into the printer to print the back.

This is obviously much slower and less desirable than real duplex printing. In fact, this isn't a feature at all because every printer can do this via the software on the computer either as a Windows system (or Mac System) default, or in the program itself, like Microsoft Word.

Another useful feature for use on a wireless home network or small business network is for the printer to have a network connectivity option. The best option is to have built-in wireless networking that will attach to your wireless network. Be sure to match up wireless standards so that you buy a 802.11g compatible printer for your 802.11g home wireless network or an 802.11n wireless printer for your 802.11n wireless small business network. (802.11n is faster than 802.11g which is faster than 802.11b. The faster standard devices will work on slower networks, although the reverse may not be true.)

By focusing on comparison shopping printer features instead of specifications you stand a much better chance of making a good printer buying decision.


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