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
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
Printer What ALL buyers should consider,
but seldom do.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Positives: FAST, LOW COST PER PAGE
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
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,
Copyright 1998 T.E. Mercer, all rights reserved. This page was last updated 05 January 1999