If you’re heading out to university this fall, chances are you’ve got a long list of things to pack. While you’re doing your going-away shopping, don’t forget to buy a printer.
Many universities have printers for students to use, sometimes for free and other times for a nominal fee, on campus. But it’s still extremely useful to have your own printer. Often the communal printer isn’t on the same floor as your dorm room—and you could find yourself running up and down several flights of stairs to reprint your document after discovering the printer is out of paper, you made a minor formatting mistake, or someone else took your paper by mistake. In addition, it can be tough to get access to printers during finals week when nearly everyone on campus is printing out a fifteen-page term paper.
Here are a few tips for finding the best printer to take with you to college.
Look for low long-term costs. As a college student, it’s likely you won’t have a lot of money—and when you do have it, you can think of other things you’d rather spend it on than a lot of expensive printer ink. So even if it means larger up-front costs, look for a brand of printer that offers relatively low-cost printer cartridges. This way, you can afford to keep your printer running once its first round of ink cartridges runs out.
Look for versatile printing capability. You’re likely to print out a lot of black-and-white text documents while you’re in school. But what if your professor assigns you a paper with a graphics component? What if you have to take pictures as part of your project?
There are certain majors that will almost definitely need good colour printing capabilities—photography and graphic design majors, for example. But no matter your major, your professors may hand you assignments you’re not expecting. So choose a printer that’s versatile enough to handle it.
Look for fast printing capability. You may have to run off some long papers during your time at school, so choose a printer that prints out pages quickly. Laser printers tend to print faster than the typical Inkjet, and they cost less in terms of cartridges as well—although they do cost more up front. Still, if you know you’ll be printing a lot of long papers and speed is a concern to you, they might be worth the cost.
Look for quiet operation. Chances are you’ll be doing a few all-nighters—and you might need to print a paper or project at four in the morning. Choose a printer that won’t wake your roommate—or the whole dorm—when it’s printing. A loud printer can make quite a racket, and those dorm walls can be thin—so don’t be “that guy” with the loud printer. If you choose a quieter printer, it’s likely you’ll be more popular with everyone who lives on your floor.
Look for a machine that will fit in your room. The average dorm room isn’t that large—and your desk isn’t likely to have room for a big, bulky all-in-one printer. Choose a printer that’s small enough to fit in the space you have without taking it over, and you’re more likely to have room for everything in your study space. Bear in mind that you’ll need room for consumables too, like printer paper and extra cartridges.
Look for reliability. The last thing you want when your paper is due in fifteen minutes is to have a paper jam. Read reviews on any printer you buy and make sure it’s easy to use and won’t break at inopportune times.
Choosing a printer for university is like choosing a printer for work or home—simply take into account where you’ll be keeping the printer, the type of jobs you plan to be using it for, your budget, and other environmental factors. There are plenty of cheap Inkjets out there, but many of the cheapest models have the most expensive ink—so check ink prices before you buy. In addition, look for a printer that’s small enough to fit, prints quickly and quietly, and is reliable enough to depend on, and you should have the ideal printer for any university student.