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Best Printers for College Students in 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Do College Students Need Their Own Printers?

As students prepare to head for college, one piece of equipment they will be considering taking with them is a printer. This might not be completely necessary, since many colleges offer printing services in computer labs. However, many people will still prefer to have their own, for the flexibility of being able to print an assignment on the go.
So what should you look for when choosing a printer for college students?

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Printer for College

  • Footprint. College dorms are not known for their huge dimensions. You need something that will fit into cramped quarters.
  • Cost. Obviously students don't have wads of cash to spare.
  • Cost per Page. Depending on how much you will use it, the cost of operation (mainly of replacement ink cartridges) will be more important than the cost of the printer itself. Printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on earth (by volume).
  • Connectivity. Being able to connect to the printer through wi-fi is normally a big advantage, but do check that you will have wi-fi in your dorm, if not than make sure that the printer can be plugged in with a USB. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, then Airprint enabled printers will be very convenient.
  • Quality of printouts. This is particularly important if you are going to be printing a lot of colour graphics or photos.

Inkjet or Laser? All-In-One or Single Function?

Laser printers are bulkier and more expensive than inkjets, but might be the right choice if you only print text.
Laser printers are bulkier and more expensive than inkjets, but might be the right choice if you only print text.

One of the first things to decide is whether to buy an inkjet or a laser printer. To be honest, the choice for most people is going to be inkjet. They are generally cheaper and smaller, two of the important criteria that you will be considering.
However, if all you plan to do is produce black and white text, then a laser printer is worth considering. There are some affordable ones around now; they are not all huge machines for commercial use only.
Laser printers are much cheaper to run; the toner cartridge is much cheaper than replacement ink cartridges. They also print text much faster, and of better quality. However they will not be able to deal with your photos or graphics.
Another thing to consider is whether you want a multi-function printer (MFP) that will do double up as a scanner and a photocopier. All-in-one printers, as they are now called, are not significantly bigger or more expensive than devices that only print, and you will probably find the extra functions handy.
If you are on a tight budget, however, you will probably not get all-in-ones with automatic document feeders and multiple paper trays. These extras are important for small businesses that copy or scan a lot of pages on a daily basis, but not necessarily for a casual user.

Three Reasonable Printer Choices for College Students

Here are three printers that might work well for your college student: a Canon All-in-one that will make nice prints for a low initial cost, a Brother all-in-one that can fax and use cheaper third-party ink, and a Brother laser printer that will make large quantities of good black-and-white prints for the lowest long-term cost.

1. Canon PIXMA MG3220 All-In-One Printer

Canon PIXMA MG3220 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner and Copier
Canon PIXMA MG3220 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner and Copier
A very reasonably priced multifunction printer that produces high-quality colour pages. On the negative side, its printing speeds are rather slow, and its ink replacement costs are on the high side. Dimensions: 12 x 17.7 x 6" ; 12.1 pounds

Like most Canon printers, this entry-level PIXMA MG3220 is well designed and compact, and prints very high-quality colour photos. With a footprint of 12 x 17.7 inches it should have no problem fitting even in cramped student dormitories.
You can connect to the printer through a USB port; through Wi-Fi, which will probably be the preferred option for students; or through Airprint, allowing you to print directly from Apple devices without the need for drivers.
Being an all-in-one printer it can also double up as a scanner and photocopier. Finally it is a very reasonably priced printer. However, it is not a fast printer (9 black-and-white pages per minute, or 44 seconds for a 4x6 color photo).
Furthermore, all inkjet printers have very high ink replacement costs. Canon produces high tech cartridges which make it impossible to use cheaper substitutes.
What is more, the way the ink cartridges are sold makes it likely that you will have to buy replacements often. It takes 2 cartridges, black and colour; as soon as you run out of one of the colours, you must change the whole colour cartridge. Although this bundling is marketed by manufacturers as convenient, it increases your ink costs.
In summary, this is a nice colour printer, that will produce excellent quality photo prints for a low initial price, but that will be expensive to run in the long term. It is suited to people who need high quality prints, but who don't expect to print a high volume of colour pages.

2. Brother MFCJ425W: Printer, Scanner, Copier and Fax

Brother Printer MFCJ425W Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax
Brother Printer MFCJ425W Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax
Entry-level multifunction printer from Brother. Uses third-party ink cartridges for lower running costs. Connects over Wi-Fi, also Airprint enabled. Dimensions: 15.9 x 14.9 x 7.1 inches.

This entry-level multi function printer from Brother might be a little bit larger than the others, with dimensions of 15.9" x 14.9" x 7.1". But it will print good quality documents and nice photos. The printing speed is not bad, and the running costs are considerably less than for the Canon. Unlike the Canon this printer can be used with third-party inks, which could save you considerable money on cartridge replacements in the long run.
It can be connected to over the Wi-Fi network, supports AirPrint, and also supports printing directly from mobile devices using Google Cloud Print.
In summary this is a good printer, recommended for people who will be printing many colour pages and need to save on ink cartridge replacements. Also for people who might need to fax documents, a function many entry-level multi-function printers don't have.

3. A Laser Printer for Students: the Brother HL-2270DW

Brother HL-2270DW Compact Laser Printer with Wireless Networking and Duplex
Brother HL-2270DW Compact Laser Printer with Wireless Networking and Duplex
A compact and economical laser printer. Can connect to a computer through USB, Ethernet and WiFi. Will produce high quality text faster than an inkjet, and cost significantly less to run. However, it will not print your photos.
 
An inkjet printer is definitely more versatile, and a better choice for most people. But if you only ever pages of text in black and white, then you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run on inkjet cartridges, and produce better pages much faster with a laser printer.
Although more expensive than the inkjets above, the Brother HL-2270DW is very reasonably pieced for a laser printer. It is also compact, measuring 14.2 x 14.5 x 7.2 inches and weighing just a little over 15 pounds.
It doesn't come with many bells and whistles; about the only extra function that it does is automated duplexing. But it will print high quality text, and fast. This isn't a workhorse device; Brother advise that it should be used for no more than 10,000 pages monthly. But then you are hardly going to need to need that many

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