What to look for when buying an inkjet printer

 HP Deskjet D1010

Inkjet Printer Buyer's Guide

Inkjet printers all include black and color printing capabilities and are great for the individual user with low to moderate printing needs.

Things to consider:

  • Functionality
  • Work Load
  • Cost of ownership
  • Speed
  • Media support
  • Duplexing
  • Print Resolution
  • Dimensions
  • Connection


Basic inkjet printers provide the capability to print documents in black and white as well as in color. Certain models also include scanning and copying functionality, generally at an increased price. If you require this capability, consider a multifunction inkjet printer. Our guide to multifunction printers can be of help.

Work Load

How many pages do you plan on printing in a week? Would you use your inkjet in an office environment? Do you need the highest quality print possible and on what types of media? If you plan on printing more than 400 pages a month (~15 a weekday), sharing the printer with more than 3 people, and prefer clean crisp laser quality copies, you may want to consider getting a laser printer. Check out the buyers guide on laser printers to get an idea of the various types of specifications.

Cost of ownership

One major way to save money on cartridges is to look at the capacity, as high capacity cartridges are also available for many inkjet printer models. Buying cartridges in bulk may also save you money in the long run. 


Inkjet printers have ample printing speed for most students needs.  If faster speeds are a requirement, then consider purchasing a laser printer.

Media support

All inkjet printers hold the basic types of paper formats including letter, legal, and standard envelope sizes. If you plan on printing out on a special paper format it may be best to check with the manufacturer’s information to determine whether or not the printer will be able to work with that size of media.  Your needs may also require printing on DVDs/CDs. Added functionality to meet these needs will generally mean considering a printer that is both physically larger, as well as more expensive.


Duplexing is the ability to print on both sides of the paper automatically. Duplexing can help you reduce paper consumption. It is not standard on all printing models.

Print Resolution

Print resolution refers to the quality of the print or dots per inch (dpi). In general, HP printers are known for their high-quality text output, while brands such as Epson brand printers are thought to produce higher quality photo prints.


Some printers load the media from the top, while others load the media in a bottom tray.  If you have space considerations it is important to consider where the printer will be placed and if it will have enough room to load the media. 


Almost no printers come with the proper cables included anymore. Make sure you buy the appropriate length and type of cable to reach your printer. Most connect via USB, but some printers may also have an ethernet port or wireless card to connect to a network. A print server may come in handy if you have multiple computers that need to print to a specific printer.  If you know that you need to use your printer on a network, we recommend buying a printer with that capability built-in rather than trying to add functionality later.

What You Get With Higher Models

As you increase the price of the inkjet printer, you are usually getting a faster printing speed. You can also get better color images. There are two main ways that the color in inkjet printers is separated: either into three individual colors or into five individual colors (occasionally you will find the color separated into seven different colors). This color separation increases the cost of the printer but leads to truer color (color images that more closely represent the actual color of the object).

Have any further questions? Contact the DoIT Showroom at (608)265-7469 or email techstore@doit.wisc.edu.


Keywords:personal departmental HP Epson Hewlett Packard InkJet Printer   Doc ID:3103
Owner:Joseph C.Group:DoIT Tech Store
Created:2004-07-29 18:00 CSTUpdated:2018-10-26 12:06 CST
Sites:DoIT Tech Store
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