Print, Copy, Scan, Fax

8 mod­els of laser and inkjet print­ers tested

Consumer Voice - - Front Page -

There are over a dozen com­pa­nies man­u­fac­tur­ing over a hun­dred vari­a­tions of por­ta­ble or in­di­vid­ual print­ers that can print pa­pers of var­i­ous sizes in sec­onds, at the click of a com­mand from your com­puter. Some even print di­rectly from dig­i­tal cam­eras or smart­phones and many have done away with those clumsy wires, in­stead con­nect­ing via lo­cal wi-fi net­works. These print­ers, which have the po­ten­tial to turn Guten­berg in his grave, are the taken-for-granted ma­chines of this age. The ques­tion is not about the prin­ter’s ba­sic func­tion­al­ity or even about the qual­ity of print – most brands have raised the bar – but about the ad­di­tional fea­tures like in­te­gra­tion of scan­ner, pho­to­copier, fax ma­chine and tele­phone in these com­pact print­ing de­vices. Here is a test re­port by In­ter­na­tional Con­sumer Re­search and Test­ing (ICRT) on eight mod­els of laser and inkjet print­ers from four pop­u­lar brands.

Imag­ine how Guten­berg would have felt when his mov­able type-print­ing press started to work. He was no doubt the first person in the world to feel the smell of the ‘printed’ pa­per. That was over 560 years ago and most likely no­body then would have been able to envision the im­pli­ca­tions of this new tech­nol­ogy. With­out ex­ag­ger­at­ing, the change in print­ing tech­nolo­gies has been phe­nom­e­nal. To­day one can print any in­for­ma­tion in­stan­ta­neously through an inkjet or a laser prin­ter.

Print­ers and Their Tech­nol­ogy

Print­ers can be clas­si­fied by the tech­nol­ogy they em­ploy. The choice of print tech­nol­ogy has a great ef­fect on the cost of the prin­ter and the cost of op­er­a­tion, speed, qual­ity and per­ma­nence of doc­u­ments, as well as the noise they make. Some tech­nolo­gies even al­low print­ing on el­e­ments other than pa­per. For ex­am­ple, there are print­ers that al­low la­belling on com­pact discs (CDs and DVDs), trans­paren­cies, car­bon pa­pers and even fab­rics.

A sec­ond as­pect of prin­ter tech­nol­ogy that is of­ten for­got­ten is re­sis­tance to al­ter­ation: liq­uid ink, such as from an inkjet head or fab­ric rib­bon, be­comes ab­sorbed by the pa­per fi­bres, so doc­u­ments printed with liq­uid ink are more dif­fi­cult to al­ter than doc­u­ments printed with toner or solid inks, which do not pen­e­trate below the pa­per sur­face. Cheques can be printed with liq­uid ink or on spe­cial cheque pa­per with toner an­chor­age so that al­ter­ations may be de­tected. The ma­chine-read­able lower por­tion of a cheque must be printed us­ing MICR toner or ink. Banks and other clear­ing houses em­ploy au­to­ma­tion equip­ment that re­lies on the mag­netic flux from these spe­cially printed char­ac­ters to func­tion prop­erly.

Prin­ter Types – Dif­fer­ence in Tech­nol­ogy

Laser print­ers

Laser print­ers or toner-based print­ers are backed by the elec­tro­static dig­i­tal print­ing process that rapidly pro­duces high-qual­ity text and graph­ics by pass­ing a laser beam over a charged drum to de­fine a dif­fer­en­tially charged image. The drum then se­lec­tively col­lects charged toner and trans­fers the image to pa­per, which is then heated to per­ma­nently fix the image. To sim­plify, it uses a toner or a drum full of pow­dered ink that gets printed on pa­per through a laser beam.

Inkjet print­ers

Inkjet print­ers op­er­ate by pro­pel­ling vari­ably sized droplets of liq­uid ink onto al­most any sized page. Inkjet print­ing cre­ates a dig­i­tal image by pro­pel­ling droplets of ink onto pa­per, plas­tic, or other sub­strates. Inkjet print­ers are the most com­monly used type of prin­ter, and range from small in­ex­pen­sive con­sumer mod­els to very large pro­fes­sional ma­chines that can cost in lakhs.

The con­cept of inkjet print­ing orig­i­nated in the 19th cen­tury, and the tech­nol­ogy was first ex­ten­sively de­vel­oped in the early 1950s. Start­ing in the late 1970s, inkjet print­ers that could re­pro­duce dig­i­tal im­ages gen­er­ated by com­put­ers were de­vel­oped, mainly by Epson, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Canon.

In the world­wide con­sumer mar­ket, four man­u­fac­tur­ers ac­count for the ma­jor­ity of inkjet prin­ter sales: Canon, HP, Epson, and Lexmark.

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