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Choosing a Photo Inkjet Printer

August 11th 2005

Canon HP Epson Brother Printers How to Choose a good Photo quality Inkjet Printer

Epson with CD / DVD Tray

Ink Jet printers have come a long way in the past decade.  Not only has the resolution increased, but so has functionality.  Many inkjet printers can print crystal clear color images on photo quality paper and even directly to DVD and CD media. 

The prices have dropped drastically also.  The other day I saw an ad in a Wal-Mart circular posting prices as low as $39.  Sure there are better quality printers out there, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get acceptable or even superb quality prints.  There are a few things you need to look for before you buy, and we will evaluate those things here.

One of the primary factors most people look at is price.  Typically Epson and Lexmark are the lowest price.  Brother and Hewlett Packard (HP) are slightly more expensive.  But is price the only determining factor?  Not by a long shot. 


The cost of replacing ink cartridges should also be considered.  What good is a $39 printer if the replacement cartridges cost double the competition?  From what I have seen Epson offers the lowest price replacement cartridges.  In fact some of the generic replacements can cost as little as $3 each. 

I have heard some people advocating refilling the old cartridge.  Personally, I think this is a bad idea, especially with the new low cost generics cartridges.  In most cases the refills require you to poke a needle through the used cartridge to inject the fresh ink.  Even if the hole is resealed the ink may leak out.  This can ruin the printer.

Since the big money is made in selling the cartridges and not the printer, HP and some others have designed proprietary ink cartridges that are unavailable in the generic market.  Some of these cartridges cost $30 or more.  In my opinion, this rules out HP as a good choice for printers.

The paper the image is printed on is more important than the Dots per Inch (DPI) resolution.  We are considering “ink” jet printers here, right?  The ink will soak and bleed into normal paper causing the image to be blurred.  So if you spend $400 on a top of the line inkjet printer and use common paper, the prints are still going to look fuzzy. 

Recently I printed a picture of one of my dad’s orchids on an 8 ˝ by 11 inch glossy paper.  I used an Epson printer that cost me around $100.  I used a 6 mega pixel Canon EOS camera to take the shot.  The picture fooled everyone that I showed it too.  No one could believe the image was printed on my inkjet printer. 

There are some competing color laser jet printers on the market right now; some even under a $1000.  They separate the toner cartridges according to color.  The toner cartridges will last longer than ink cartridges, but the cost is more.  Color bleeding is less of a factor than with inkjets because you are dealing with a toner, not ink.


You will definitely want to look for a printer that separates the ink cartridges.  I once owned an Epson that had integrated all the colors into one cartridge.  Sure the cartridges were inexpensive, but I had to replace the whole thing just because I ran out of one color.  Also, the inkwells were smaller and held less ink.  That mean the cartridge had to be replaced more frequently. 

Nowadays, most inkjet printers will come with five color cartages and a single black one.  This color separation will give you superb quality prints, assuming you use the coated glossy paper. 

Many of the newer printers will include CD and DVD trays.  This will allow you to print directly onto a CD or DVD.  So it you burn a music CD or DVD movie you don’t need to mess with labels.  It will definitely give you a more appealing final product.  I recommend businesses use this method for finishing their presentation DVD’s.  Hub-less DVD’s permit printing to the center ring of the DVD.  The printers will include special software that makes this printing a snap.

Various printer manufacturers will offer a wide format option.  This means you can print directly onto 11 X 17 inch paper, as compared to the standard 8 ˝ by 11 format.  You could produce your own magazines right at home.  Corel Draw and Quark Express are some great software programs you can be use for the layout.  The wide format may also provide you a better sales presentation than just stuffing 8 ˝ by 11 papers into a folder. 

There are many specialty paper companies that sell the larger 11 X 17 inch format paper.  You might want to experiment with a thin (light weight) paper for the inner pages and a thick (heavy weight) paper for the cover, similar to a magazine.  Always get the glossy paper for best results.

When using the large format paper to make a magazine, experiment with paper to determine what page will line up with the other.  For instance, page two may be on opposite side of the paper from page one but on the same side as page six.  It all depends how many pages you have and if you have a table of contents.  Experiment with it on smaller pieces first to determine where to put the pages.

After you have determined the layout and printed the booklet or magazine use a “long reach” style stapler.  They are inexpensive and you will need it to staple the center of the magazine.

To sum it up: my personal favorite printer is the Epson. The last 4 printers I have purchased have been Epson.  The inexpensive generic cartridges last just as long as the more expensive Epson Brand cartridges and the print quality has been great.   

If you have any comments or corrections please email me.

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

  Printer Products

Keywords and misspellings:  canon lexmart hewlet packard pinter pinters 

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:45 PM