1. Is it going to be the only printer in the home or office?
If yes, then you need the printer to be able to do multiple functions like print pictures, print text fast, and do it all effectively. But very few offices have one printer, and even some homes have more than one with the price of printers on the market. So it might not be a bad idea to buy two printers for your home with one for photo printing, and one for everything else.
2. Do you need a multifunction printer or not?
Nowadays you can buy printers that scan, copy and fax. Will you need your printer to perform any of those things? If you don't necessarily need the printer do any of those things, then it will not be a factor you need to consider. If not, your buying decision will be much more speedy.
3. What are you going to use the printer for?
If you have a need for one particular function in a printer, look for just that at first. For instance, if you want scanning capability, look for that first and then go for the printing part. This means what are you going to use the printer mainly for? Here are some common printer uses, usage levels and the type of printer that may be best suited for this usage:
* Light everyday home use: occasional printing , mainly text, maps for directions, a few photos here and there. (Basic entry level inkjet printer).
* Heavy home use (Or home office, light office): High number of pages, still mainly text or no photo images (no color needed then b/w laser printer, if color is needed a good fast inkjet printer, and if budget available than an entry level color laser).
* Home photo printing: Uses a few mainstream paper sizes, print family photos, cards, scrapbooking, but nothing in high volume (entry to medium level photo printer depending on the budget).
* Professional photo printing: High quality photo printing (high end photo printers).
* Printing marketing materials. Small businesses, real estate agents, etc. (color laser printers entry to high level).
* Heavy office use for mainly text: if black/white is enough (b/w fast laser printer).
* Heavy office use with also a lot of images and color: a lot of text with graphics, company newsletters, brochures, graphs and presentations. (a good high end color laser printer)
4. What is your budget?
You can start by coming up with a budget and then try to get the best printer that fits your needs in that budget. This can work several ways. Most likely, however, you will think of a number that looks great on paper. After a bit of research, you may find that you overestimated or underestimated the cost of a printer that fulfills all of your needs. Then, you’ll come up with a more accurate budget and go from there. Be sure to consider the cost of printer ink cartridges in your budget as well, as they will be a recurring expense.
5. What is the cost of printer ownership?
Find the supply cost of the printer before you buy it. Calculate the cost per page estimation - if the cartridge yield is 300 and the price of cartridge set is $30, then you will average 0.10 per page--and if you print about 200 pages a month you are looking at $20/month cost or more.
Things to keep in mind:
* Laser printers are less expensive per page (always) especially just black/white lasers as they are great for heavy printing.
* Off Brand Printer Cartridges. Not all of them are good. Some stores sell not-so-great quality off-brand or after market products but if the seller is reputable and has a guarantee then why not try it? Don't forget contrary to what printer manufacturers it is very very hard for a cartidge to damage a printer and using replacement generic cartridges and aftermarket products will not void your printer warranty (by law).
* Laser Printer Cartridges. Most of the time, if the model is popular enough, you can find good remanufactured cartridges. If you do this, buy remanufactured cartridges that have a new drum, as this will make a big difference. For less popular printer brands and models you may not be able to find cheaper cartridges so check before you buy.
* For inkjet printers, most HP, All Lexmark, Xerox and some Canon do not have compatible new generic brands but do have cheaper--but not by much--remanufactured cartridges. Most Epson, Brother, Some Canon, Oki and Xerox have good compatible affordable cartridges. You can forget Dell. Dell uses old technology (licensed from Lexmark) and inferior printers with expensive supplies that you can buy only from Dell.com directly. But if you already have one remember some cheaper remanufactured cartridges do exist for Dell printers.
6. Have you heard of the printer model before?
Usually, very few new printers have breakthrough technology and designs that can last. Try something that has been tested by the market--you can read reviews for it and supplies (not just original expensive printer supplies but also aftermarket or generic replacement cartridges) are and will be available. Same thing that happens with new Software releases (full of bugs), immature new Car models (lack of part, dealer repair issues, design problems) happens with new printer models.
7. What do professionals and customers think about it?
In this day and age, we spend a lot of time and money on our printers so it really is worth it to spend ample time on research. Some good printer review sources you can use include: Amazon , PC Magazine website, PCWorld Magazine Website and CNET reviews
8. What do your friends think about it?
Ask friends and family about their printers if you think they use one similar to yours. There is nothing like a good review from a close personal friend or relative to encourage you to make that purchase—if you trust their opinion, that is.
9. Have you thought about non-traditional brands?
Consider other brands besides the usual suspects like HP, Lexmark, Epson, Canon or Dell. A lot of new good printers are out there like Brother and Samsung. Even Kodak is coming out with new printers these days. Doing your research means digger deeper than the label.
10. Where will you buy it?
Many people opt to buy products online these days, which is great. But a major purchase like a printer gets tricky. Buy the printer from a local store and if you are going to use it a lot, and the printer is expensive it might worth it to get their store warranty. Don't try to save a few bucks ordering online. Printers are still delicate equipment and can get broken during shipment. Also, you might want to return the printer after you try it out and it’s much easier to walk into the store to do so.