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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.

college-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.

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Purchasing a Brand New Printer

by Rich on August 27, 2009

Those purchasing a brand new printer will more than likely be offered an extended warranty option. This will be available at an additional cost, but the salesperson will explain how it will save money in the long run should the printer malfunction. But for a small technological appliance like a printer, is an extended warranty really worth the added cost?
2 year warranty
First, determine what kind of warranty the manufacturer offers for no additional charge. Many warranties are a year long, or may extend further than that and only cover certain aspects of the product. Be sure the return policy or warranty at least covers a few months, long enough to determine if the product is not defective. You may assume that a defective product is easily exchangeable, but do not count on it.

Determine what your consumer protection is. For instance, if you purchase your printer with a credit card, the credit card company may offer some protection. If something is defective or breaks under certain circumstances in a specific period of time, they may cover the costs of a replacement printer. Before shopping for your printer, know what your warranty options are outside of the printer company and retail store.Printer

On your own, research the average life span of the printers you are considering purchasing. If taken care of, many printers will last more than five years with little trouble. If you do not print often, it may last even longer. Often, multifunctional printers have more problems than single function printers, so take that into consideration when making your decision.

Next, crunch a few numbers. Consider the total cost of the printer and its inkjet cartridges. Chances are, a replacement will cost about the same or cheaper, provided your printing needs remain the same and technology continues to develop. This means if you spend an equivalent amount on an extended warranty, you could have gotten a whole new printer for the same cost. For example, if you purchase an extended warranty for £140, and in one year your printer breaks, it can be fixed or replaced at no additional charge. You have essentially paid the full price of the replacement via the extended warranty. Furthermore, it limits your options. By purchasing the warranty, or pre-purchasing your replacement printer, you have locked yourself into band loyalty. Probably not the best option if you find yourself unhappy with your brand choice.Colour Printer

If an extended warranty is available for a very reasonable charge, maybe £10 or £15, it may be worth it. This way, if something goes wrong after a few months, you are in good shape and can get a replacement for only the cost of that warranty. If you approach the warranty and cost of the computer as one item, and you consider it the cost of a new printer, it may well be worth the cost. Would you consider the initial cost of your new printer plus the warranty fee a good price for a new printer a year from now? It may seem like a bargain. Even if you find you want a different brand, you have only lost a few dollars and it bought a few months or a few years worth of peace of mind.

In the long run, decide on a budget and stick to it. Before shopping, take things like warranties into account and determine what your ultimate price will be including the printer, multifunctional features, and the warranty.

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