Print, Copy, Scan, Fax
8 models of laser and inkjet printers tested
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 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 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.