Deciding which is the best inkjet printer for you can be a daunting task. Periodically, I have to revisit this question and it takes many hours of research and phone calls. I am passing on my experience here to make the process of finding the best inkjet printer for you a little easier.
First, why ink jet printers? Only inkjet printers will give you the color quality that you want for your printable greeting cards. Laser printers are OK for business graphics but not for printing pictures.
The good news is that you can buy a color inkjet printer that will do a good job for you for under $100.
When I first started this business, the best color printer in the inkjet family couldn't produce a picture without "the dots showing". The laser printers couldn't and still can't produce the colors.
Today, quality doesn't have to be an issue. Each of the top 3 manufacturers, Epson, HP and Canon, makes printers that are capable of producing outstanding pictures....no dots. Oh yes, they're there but you can't see them!
The technologies for delivering the ink to the paper are so different that the "dpi" (dots per inch) numbers can no longer be the basis for judging which is the best inkjet printer.
First, because of aggressive pricing, I don't look beyond the big three. Check out the main review sites, the other manufacturers don't feature when it comes to color printers.
Second, I don't consider commercial grade printers. As long as I can get the quality of print that I need, it makes more sense for me to replace my home grade inkjet printer more frequently. Commercial grade printers are very expensive, more complex to maintain and also subject to obsolescence with the rapid changes in technology.
· Number of colors. If you want to print art cards, don't consider a printer with less than 5 colors. The actual colors they use are not important, they all have different ways of mixing them during the printing process so that the colors come out right. But more colors give better tonal variations.
· Individual cartridges.This is a must to keep your ink cost under control. With a multicolor cartridge, you have to replace it when the first color runs out. That means that you're throwing away the remaining ink of the other colors. I think it's a pretty safe bet to say that all the best inkjet printers have individual cartridges now.
· Media size and type. Unless you have decided that you will only print on paper (more about that in the Paper section), you must be very careful to make sure your printer can handle card stock.
If you intend to print greeting cards regularly...and why not?... it's fun, you also need to be sure that you can put the cards in the auto tray. Feeding the printer one sheet at a time gets old very quickly!
If you have a photographer in the house, you might want to consider a wide format printer.
Remember that some of the best inkjet printers are photo dedicated and only handle 4"x 6" paper.
· Space. How much room do you have? Remember that some of these inkjet printers fold down to a neat package, which is good because it keeps the dust out, but when they are in use, they take up a lot more room.
· Weight. Do you have to set it up and put it away after each session?
· Wireless. Can you connect to the computer where you are working or is the printer remote?
It's not my place to give technical reviews. There are many experts out there who have already reviewed the best printers. Just be aware that they're not all impartial so it's a good idea to read several reviews about any particular printer. Also read a few buyers' reviews. No printer is perfect but you might pick up a good or bad feature that keeps getting mentioned.
Is installation easy?
Are the drivers compatible with the new OS that you want to install?
Shop for prices. Don't forget the manufacturers' sites. They sometimes have the best sales with free shipping.
You can often get Epson printers on a great deal either new or factory refurbished. The latter comes with a full warranty. When they discontinued the Stylus Photo R800 I scrambled to get one and ended up with a refurbished unit. It was every bit as good as the previous 3 new ones that I had owned.
Because of the constant flow of new models, there is no point in suggesting specific printers here. The best inkjet printer for you will depend on your individual needs. If you're only going to print a few cards for the holidays and birthdays, your needs will be different from the person who wants to start a home business. The main difference will be in the need for auto features and paper handling, you can still get a high quality print from a printer with less of those features.