Bringing the office environment home is full of new, unique challenges.
Thanks to lightning-fast internet speeds and advances in teleconferencing technology, more companies have been able to increase their talent pool to choose from professionals from all over the world. As more workers opt to work remotely, there are a few trade-offs.
- No more free coffee in the breakroom.
- No more obligatory commute to clear your head (if you're not screaming at your windshield).
- A trickier time nailing down work/life balance.
- No more access to the office copier or printer devices.
The last one of these perks is where were we shall aim our focus for this article. While being able to work in your pajamas may be pretty lovely, admit it — you miss not having access to a printer capable of printing off a copy of the phonebook at a moment's notice (though you definitely shouldn't be doing that). While you may have a home printer, it likely isn't considered "commercial quality" by any stretch of the imagination. It's time to shop for a reliable home office printer.
Know What You Want
Not a lot of people have as much experience shopping for printers as they once did. Either they don't use printers in their personal life, or the printer has spoiled them at work. For this purpose, it is essential to know what you're going to want in a printer.
Speed vs. Quality
The kind of printing you're going to do will likely dictate whether or not you're going to go with an inkjet or a laser printer.
- Inkjet = Slower, but higher image quality. Inkjet printers can deliver stunning, almost photographic image quality…if you're willing to wait a little bit longer. Yep, print speeds with inkjets can feel sluggish in comparison to their toner-based counterparts.
- Laser = faster, but lower image quality. printers are probably what you're used to if you've grown accustomed to your physical office's printer — fast, consistent, but…nothing really to write home about in terms of image quality.
Consistency & Cartridge Longevity
Though inkjet printers tend to deliver sharper images and more vibrant colors, the consistency of that quality may start to dwindle as you near the end of the cartridge's lifespan. Once the black ink has been largely used, many printers will begin mixing colored inks together to make black—often resulting in text-heavy documents with substandard quality. Laser printers, on the other hand, will often continue to deliver quality text-based images throughout the lifespan of the cartridge.
All-In-One Multifunction Devices (MFDs) vs. "Just" Printers
When most of us think of printers, we're mostly fixated on their ability to print consistently. Because of this, multifunction devices (MFDs), aka "all-in-one" printers aren't usually on our radar. Well, they should be. Sure, you may not make copies, scan, or fax documents nearly as often as you did ten years ago, but there will come a time when it will be beneficial to be able to do so without having to travel to the closest third-party printer spot. These additional features have become so cheap that you might as well turn your "home office printer" into a "home office multifunction device" and check off several equipment boxes in one fell swoop.
Artificially Deflated Device Costs
Another reason why you may consider an MFD over a printer is due to the value. It's no secret that many consumer-level MFD and printer prices are artificially low because their true cost is recouped by manufacturers by way of inflated cartridge prices. While this seems like a reason to steer clear of such devices, this actually means that the true price difference between a printer and an MFD may be even narrower than originally thought. Even if you don't print very many documents, it may be worth picking up an MFD when it comes time to purchase a new scanner or if you need a fax machine.
Connectivity — Hardwired vs. wifi
Most printers available these days support wifi printer connectivity. Still, sometimes it's nice to throw a USB cable into your laptop and print immediately without having to navigate through screens. So, which is best? Both. Wired connectivity is excellent for printing or uploading a scanned document to your laptop (especially if your home wifi is one the fritz), but wifi connectivity for printing documents from phones and tablets is also too attractive a feature to refuse. Even if you know you're going to mostly use wifi printing, a printer-to-USB cable is typically under $10.
Secure Your Wifi!
If you do opt for wifi printing in your home office, make sure to take the proper steps to ensure printer security. While this advice goes for wifi-enabled devices connected to your work computer, printers are among some of the favorite access points for cybersecurity threats.
Price of Consumables
While shopping for printers or multifunction devices for your home office, you may see a considerable price variation between models that seem to have similar functionality. Why is this model all-in-one MFD $100 cheaper than this other similar model? Well, just check out the price of the consumables — toner cartridges, ink cartridges, printheads, and paper. Those will also vary wildly. Why is this so?
Some printer manufacturers sell their printer models at a loss. "Well, that doesn't sound like a good business practice." Oh, they're making money — check out the price of the cartridge refills. The truth is that many people don't thoroughly research the "true cost" of the printer — the cost per image when all is said and done. While you may be saving money upfront, you may end up feeling like you're paying the printer off in installments with how pricey consumable refills can be. To avoid getting surprised with expensive consumables, do your research. Look up the model numbers of the cartridge replacements, see how much they cost, and how long users say they last. Once you start to put the pieces together, you'll better able to better compare prices.