This section is ONLY in draft form at this point. It will be growing and adding over the next few weeks. So please check our web site for the latest information in a few weeks. Thanks, Terry E. Mercer


bulletTips & Tricks
bulletPurchasing Options


bulletDot Matrix
bulletBubble Jet & Ink Jet
bulletHigh-end Specialty
bulletOther Printer


Tips & Tricks

Before you purchase a printer, or otherwise decide on spending money on anything that requires you to spend more money to keep it going, you need to think about and more completely learn about some basics. If a car gets 40 miles per gallon, is that better than another car struggling to get 8 miles per gallon? I guess that depends on the vehicle and what it is being used for, right? If you need to occasionally haul hay, gravel, furniture, or such, and you can choose between two vehicles that can both do the job... what other things will you consider?
Vehicle What most people actually consider.
Printer What ALL buyers should consider, but seldom do.
Purchase Price?
Purchase Price?
Will it haul the load I usually carry?
Will it print what I need? Black&White or Color? Is the quality acceptable?
Size & Space required
Amount of paper it can hold 
Gas Mileage
Cost per printed page
What are the odds of it breaking down? Who is going to work on it? How long will I be without a printer when it is being worked on?
What all can it print? Different paper sizes, types, envelopes, banners, iron on decals?
Will future operating systems likely support the printer?
If the vehicles cost about the same, haul the same, look about the same... then gas mileage, warranty, and flexibility are the things a logical person would consider next. What will it cost to operate, repair, and keep functional should be important. Most people are ignorant, especially when it comes to computer hardware, software, and printers. This is normal, and will require a little extra time and effort... or consulting a good technician.

Purchasing Options & Considerations

First, HP (Hewlett Packard) is often my printer of choice, simply because they have a good quality printer and great driver support on the internet. I have yet to see an HP printer that ran under Windows v3.x that doesn't have driver support under Windows95 or Windows98. You may have to buy them from HP or download them (for FREE) from the Internet, but they are available. In addition, nearly every printer uses the HP drivers as an alternative option for their brand of printers.
Canon, Epson, and Lexmark all make solid printers, and in a few cases are my preference. But there are certain things to consider before jumping that direction. ALL other printers are generally either limited or specialty printers. Tectronics (for color proofing), CalComp (plotters), and Fargo (dye sublimation and thermal wax transfers) are considered the best in their areas.  
Can the cartridges be purchased anywhere?
Are those cartridges used in more than one make or model of printer, or are they unique?
Does the company have a history of supporting future operating systems without major problems or costs?
What is the actual cost per printed page - black & white, and color (if available)?
Are there power saving features, so you don't get a large electrical bill... yet can leave it on and ready for use?
Will it give you the speed you need?
Does it have the quality you require?
Have you seen an actual print out from the printer(s) you are interested in? Files like YOU will be printing?

Dot Matrix Printers:
Positives: Very low cost per page (less than $0.005 - a half a cent, not counting paper costs). Uses the cheap tractor feed boxes of paper, and the average ribbon will last for 2000 to 5000 pages, and a cost of $2 to $10 each. This type of printer is exceptionally Perfect for multi-part forms. Invoices, checks, Purchase Orders, Packing Slips, Shipping reports, large accounting forms (green bar), etc. Most have either HP or Epson compatibility.
Negatives: These are very noisy!!! Not generally as fast as the Ink Jet or Laser printers, no where near the quality of the Ink Jet or Laser printers. Finding the ribbons locally may be very difficult and costly.
Procedures: Usually tractor feed... which requires a clear path, and a few minutes extra setup time.
Cautions: Very slow, unless you spend a lot of money for a multi-head high speed printer (600 lines per minute or better) which often costs quality.
Considerations: Unless you are printing multi-part forms, which require IMPACT printing, I would stay away from Dot Matrix printers. There are 9 pin, and 24 pin. The 24 pin will give you LQ (Letter Quality), with a lot of noise and multiple passes.
Quality Brands: HP and Epson set the standards. The Epson 500, 800, and 1000 series are very difficult to beat, and all support Windows95 and 98 platforms.
News Worthy: Ink Jets can now print banners, if this is important to you.

Bubble Jet & Ink Jet Printers:

Positives: Clear Crisp Print. Fast. Color capability is more likely.
Negatives: Can be a high cost per page.
Procedures: Uses standard typewriter and copying machine paper.
Cautions: I absolutely do not recommend the HP820 (reasons I may go into later). Never lift the cartridge out of an Epson Color Stylist, as you will instantly ruin it, even if it has never printed a page.
Considerations: These are all incredible printers in the value to cost formula.
Quality Brands: HP 722, 870, 890, 895, 1000, 1120, 2000 and the Copy Jet.
News Worthy: The HP 820 is terrible! Why HP still has it on the market is beyond me. The concept is great, and it was the start of something wonderful. It doesn't work well on networks, or more than one computer. A notebook computer can really "trash" it and then you get nothing but intermitted printing problems.

Laser Printers

Negatives: Black & White (shades of gray) only, unless you spend over $3,000 for color capability. Also, the replacement cartridges can be very expensive (from $49 to $500 each - depending on the type and number of pages that is expected.
Procedures: Installation is slightly more time consuming and difficult
Cautions: If there isn't a power saving feature, that 1500 watt fuser will cost you a lot.
Considerations: Does Microsoft ship Windows95 with drivers for YOUR printer shipping with it? The Lexmark 4019 and 4029 do, which makes those models very nice, expensive, and compatible.
Quality Brands: HP, Lexmark
News Worthy: Go with HIGH YIELD drums, and you can expect 15 to 25,000 pages of print before ever changing the cartridge. It helps justify the extremely low cost per page.

High-End Specialty Printers

Quality Brands:
News Worthy:

Other Devices:

I will add more information about the other printers as users request such information. There are so many different types, and over the years the information has just accumulated. Ask, and I will try to get you, and future versions of these documents, the answers.

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This site was last updated on 03/31/06