Last week we discussed iPads and how some folks use them instead of, or as a replacement for, a laptop. I hope I gave you some ideas and tips that helped you get an idea of how they do that, what’s available, and what to look for.
My printer recently stopped working reliably. It would only print some of a line. I aligned and cleaned the print heads using the menus on the printer several times. That’s worked in the past, but well, this time it didn’t. I don’t do a lot of printing but there are times when I do need hardcopy so a printer is a must-have. Also, I prefer my printers to be able to scan documents, preferably with an Automatic Document Feeder (also known as an ADF). I prefer the ADF to be able to scan both sides of a page (known as auto duplex) and also be able to print on both sides of a page (also known as auto duplex). I want my printer to be able to print in color and I really don’t need a laser (laser printers produce print that won’t smear or smudge). Besides, laser printers that print in color usually cost a lot more than other printers and the cost of supplies (for example, toner) is usually quite a bit higher than supplies for other printers. So, I content myself with ink jet printers. Since I want a scanner, that puts me into what’s called an “all-in-one.” These types of printers also usually include a fax machine but, honestly, I never hook it up. I just use the printer and the scanner.
So, how did I select a new printer? I have my list of “must haves” and “don’t wants” so, what did I do? I did research. How? I asked friends what they had and how well they liked their printer. I did some searches using phrases like “best all-in-one printers for 2022” and “lowest cost all-in-ones 2022.” I went to cnet.com to look at their ratings and I went to rtings.com to look at their comparisons. I have a bias against HP printers that dates back about 20 years when we needed to download drivers for the printer. HP would only update its drivers for a year or two so, after a while, the printer would fall behind in features. I have no idea if that’s the case now but my bias persists so I do not consider HP printers. I looked at reviews and ratings for Canon, Brother and Epson, all brands that friends had and recommended. I wanted the price to be below $200 which knocked out all auto duplexing scanner all-in-ones.
All printer manufacturers talk about print speed and resolution. I don’t really pay attention to those specifications. Printers in the price range I’m looking at ($75-$200) all perform well enough for me; they’re fast enough and their resolution isn’t an issue since I don’t print photographs. Printing photographs is a whole other subject and one I don’t intend to cover. The same thing applies to the scanner part — all the scanners I’ve seen on these all-in-ones can scan at least at 300 dpi which is sufficient for everything I need (to learn more about DPI or Dots Per Inch, check out https://go.ttot.link/DPI, also read https://go.ttot.link/MoreDPI for a little more info and https://go.ttot.link/PhotoDPI for tips for scanning photographs).
Pretty quickly I eliminated Canon printers. They’re really known for photo printing and, like I said, I don’t print photos. That left me with Brother and Epson. My old all-in-one was an Epson and one of my good friends had just bought a new Epson so they were a strong contender. But I’ve read many good things about Brother and how they tend to have a lower cost-per-page than many other printers.
Cost per page is important! Really, it comes down to how much the ink costs. And, let’s face it, you’ll be buying ink for as long as you own the printer so I wanted to consider that cost along with the cost of the printer. The price for Epson ink is about the same as the cost for Brother ink. But, the Brother ink cartridges for the MFC-J4335DW print more pages than the Epson WF-3820 (rtings.com estimates the Brother will print 2,000 pages whereas the Epson will print 361 pages). Over the life of the printer you can expect to spend quite a bit less on supplies of ink with the Brother.
So, I bought the Brother. Even though it cost roughly $50 more than the Epson, I figure I’ll save that amount in ink costs over the next year or so. Installation was simple. I used the Brother Mobile Connect app which sent my WiFi setup to the printer (my WiFi password is over 25 characters long, using uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters so any assistance I can get is a big help).
I’m really pleased with my new Brother all-in-one. It prints quickly and it scans well (did I tell you that, without any add-ons, Chromebooks can operate a scanner wirelessly and save the scanned pages?).
That’s it for this week. Let me know what you’d like to discuss next week.
As always, my intent with these columns is to spark your curiosity, give you enough information to get started, and arm you with the necessary keywords (or buzzwords) so you’ll understand the basics and are equipped to search for more detailed information.
Please feel free to email me with questions, comments, suggestions, requests for future columns, whatever at tony@TonysTakeOnTech.com or just drop me a quick note and say hi! And don’t forget that I maintain links to the original columns with live, clickable links to all the references at https://go.ttot.link/TGColumns+Links or https://go.ttot.link/TGC+L – it should be updated shortly after this column appears online.
Tony Sumrall, a Hillsboro native whose parents ran the former Highland Lanes bowling alley, is a maker with both leadership and technical skills. He’s been in the computing arena since his graduation from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in systems analysis, working for and with companies ranging in size from five to hundreds of thousands of employees. He holds five patents and lives and thrives in Silicon Valley which feeds his love for all things tech.