Printing Buying Guide

Bring your pictures and documents to life

Printing technology has advanced dramatically in the last few years, so if you're looking to replace an older model or are taking your first venture into home printing, you may be surprised at the innovative and timesaving features available on modern printers.

We've created this guide to help you learn more about the most important things to consider when buying a printer, and to help you find the one that best meets your needs.

Types of printer

From basic printers for occasional use around the house to complete solutions for small businesses, there's a printer that will work for you.

What are Inkjet printers?

Inkjet printers are ideal for home use; whether you're printing school work, tickets, photos or other documents.

Typically, inkjet printers produce higher quality photographs than laser printers. If you're a keen photographer or want to make a family album, a good quality inkjet printer makes the most of photos from DSLR and phone cameras alike.

Ink cartridges tend to be cheaper than laser toners too, so you won't have to fork out as much when it runs out of ink.

View all inkjet printers

What are Laser printers?

Laser printers are designed for frequent use and can cut printing times in offices and homes that regularly print significant amounts of pages. Suited to text documents and high speed batch printing, laser is the choice for demanding users.

While toner costs more than inkjet cartridges, you get more prints before they need replacing (typically over 1400 pages). So while the initial purchase price of a laser printer can seem higher, the cost-per-page can work out cheaper over time.

View all laser printers

What are All in one printers?

An all-in-one printer is the combination of a scanner, copier and printer in one convenient device. They're available in both inkjet and laser varieties, so you can benefit from the reduced footprint and convenience regardless of your ink preference.

Some all-in-ones have an integrated fax machine, which makes them the ideal printing solution for small or home offices.

What are 3D printers?

3D printers have been around for a while, but have recently become much more accessible and give you an exciting entry into rapid prototyping and small-scale manufacturing. Whatever you can design, you can create, so whether you want to test-fit parts before expensive machining or simply fancy designing a unique phone case, a 3D printer makes once complex manufacturing easy.

View all 3D printers

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What type of Printer is right for me?

There are different types of printers to suit different needs and uses. Whether you're a student, business user, photographer, or you just need to print an occasional train ticket or family photo, we have a printer for you.

I just want to print at home, what printer should I buy?

If you occasionally print university documents or family photos an inkjet printer is ideal as the initial cost is lower than a laser or photo printer. While you may not get as many pages before the ink needs replacing, you won’t be paying for ink, performance and features you don't need.

If you never print photos, look out for monochrome laser printers which are designed solely for text and black and white documents.

I am a business user, which printer should I buy?

There are a wide range of business printers in both inkjet and laser varieties.

A key thing to look out for when you're choosing an office printer is that the print speed is fast enough. Automatic document feeders (ADF) are an invaluable feature for busy offices as they allow you to scan and copy several documents at once, so you’re not wasting time standing feeding single sheets of paper into the scanner.

If you plan on printing regularly, check the monthly duty cycle, as this shows you the maximum number of prints that the manufacturer suggests are suitable.

I want to print professional looking photos, what printer should I buy?

Photo printers are made specifically for printing images, so will give you much higher quality photos than other printers - ideal for family albums or framing.

These printers use individual inks for each colour to ensure natural colour reproduction, so you're images appear just as they would if you'd had them printed at a photo lab.

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Wireless Printing

Wireless connectivity allows you to print from a computer, tablet or smartphone without the need to plug it in. You can print from any room in your home, which is great for families, as everyone can use the printer quickly and easily.

Can I print from my Android device?

Google Cloud Print allows you to print from any Android or Windows device. This means you can print from smartphones, tablets and computers without the need to download additional software or drivers. You can send documents or photos to print from wherever you are; whether you're at home or on the other side of the world.

Can I print from my iOS device?

AirPrint is exclusive to Apple devices and allows you to print directly from your iPhone, iPad, Mac or iPod Touch. Just tap the button on your device to print completely wirelessly.

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It is important to consider ink when looking for a printer, as often a cheaper printer requires more expensive ink and vice-versa.

There are also a few new ways to top up your printer with ink that can make printing easier and save you money.

What is HP Instant Ink?

Printers with Instant Ink automatically order new ink when it's needed, which is delivered to your door. This service is available on many HP printers - all you need to do is enroll on a fixed monthly plan which determines how many pages you can print per month. Ink is automatically posted to your address whenever it's required, with the monthly payment inclusive of postage and recycling. Instant Ink can help you save money and ensures you always have ink when you need it.

Find out more about HP Instant Ink

What is Epson EcoTank?

Epson EcoTank printers feature unique ink tanks that can be refilled and topped-up as necessary using cost-effective ink bottles. The bottles provide up to 6500 prints each and can help you to reduce printing costs by up to 65% - ideal for offices and busy homes. For most people, 6500 prints is enough for two years' worth of ink.

The top-up bottles contain genuine Epson ink that has been designed to work perfectly with the EcoTank printers, so you can rely on the best quality results regardless of how often you use it.

Find out more about Epson EcoTank

Inkjet vs Laser

Inkjet printers use ink cartridges. While they are usually cheaper to replace than laser toner, the page yield is lower. If you don’t usually print a lot, or you predominately print photographs or high colour images, an inkjet printer will provide great-quality prints without breaking the bank when new ink is needed.

While laser toner cartridges are more costly than those of an inkjet printer, they can offer a greater page yield along with vastly improved print speeds. If you find yourself regularly printing in large quantities, a laser or office spec inkjet printer is worth considering.

Block vs Individual Ink

Inkjet printers either feature individual inks or block inks. Printers with individual inks have an individual cartridge for each colour - typically single cartridges for black, cyan, magenta and yellow. They're great if your regularly print photos or documents with single colour letter heads, as you can replace the most used colours when you need to. Some high-end photo printers also have additional cartridges for grey, or photo-specific blacks, which enables them to deliver more natural colours with deeper contrast.

Block ink combines the three main colours into a single unit. They tend to be cheaper than buying each ink separately, so a printer with block inks is a great choice if you don't print that often.

Multipack and Combination Ink Packs

Ink can be bought either separately or as a combination pack. Including all the cartridges needed for a full top up, combination ink sets cost less than buying separately and offer great value for money.

View all multipack printer cartridges

View all single printer cartridges

XL & XXL Ink Packs

Extra-large ink or toner cartridges offer greater value for money by giving you a higher page yield (more pages from a single cartridge), which reduces the cost to print each page.

View all XL printer cartridges

Page Yield

While the approximate page yield can be a good guideline for determining general usage allowance, it's important to be aware that page yield can vary depending on the types of pages you choose to print. For example, printing high definition photos will use more ink than basic text documents.

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Jargon buster

Wireless printing | Wireless printers connect to your PC or Mac using your home WiFi network and can be accessed from anywhere in your house, meaning you don’t even have to be in the same room to print.

Several computers and mobile devices can use the same printer, which can be placed in the most convenient location for you and your household.

If you want to wirelessly print from a tablet or smartphone, you’ll need a printer that features AirPrint, Google Cloud Print or email printing. See below for more information.

Wi-Fi Direct/Wireless Direct | WiFi Direct provides a wireless connection between a printer and device, even if no WiFi signal is present - perfect for homes and offices without a wireless network or in an office as a backup should the network go down.

Apple Airprint | Apple AirPrint allows you to print directly from Apple iOS products and comes built in to iPhones from the 3GS and up, 3rd generation iPods onwards and all iPads.

Look for Apple AirPrint as a highlighted feature within our range to ensure you can print from your favourite Apple device.

Google Cloud print | Google Cloud Print is included on all Android devices and lets you print wirelessly from your tablet or smartphone. Simply create or log into a Gmail/Google account to get started.

Look for Cloud Print as a highlighted feature to ensure you’ll be able to print from your Android device.

NFC | Near field communication (NFC) is a relatively new feature to printers. Often included on tablets and smartphones, it allows two devices to connect simply by touching together, making syncing a printer with another NFC device effortless.

Look for NFC as a highlighted feature on our range of wireless printers.

Email printing | Email printing is a feature available on selected HP printers and provides wireless printing from any email capable device. Each printer has a unique, customisable email address and once connected to your home WiFi, prints any images or text documents it receives.

Most manufacturers have their own version of email printing. Look out for ‘email printing’ as a highlighted feature within our printing range.

Print quality DPI | DPI stands for dots per inch and is a basic measure of print quality. A printer with a higher DPI delivers clear, detailed pictures although other factors such as ink play a part in overall print quality.

If you’re looking for vibrant, lifelike photographs, a good quality inkjet printer provides enhanced colour reproduction and the glossy, developed-photo look that makes for a fantastic printed image.

Print speed | We highlight print rate on all of our printers. Measured in pages per minute (PPM) for text and images per minute (IPM) for photographs, you should consider print speed if you regularly print in large amounts.

Monochrome printer | Monochrome printers exclusively print black and white documents. Monochrome laser printers feature higher print speeds over everyday inkjet printers.

Paper size | The most commonly printed page size is A4 and the vast majority of our printers print in this format. Many printers also print smaller, so whether you want the familiar 6 x 4 developed-photo size or specialist envelope sizes, most accept a wide range of photo and document paper.

For larger prints, we stock a range of A3 printers that print in various sizes up to A3. Some are no bigger than A4 printers, making them ideal for small offices or homes where space is at a premium.

Double sided print | Auto duplex is a handy feature that gives you the choice to automatically print on both sides of the paper, helping you look after the environment while saving money in the process.

ADF Feeder | An automatic document feeder (ADF) allows you to scan or copy multiple documents simultaneously, without having to manually insert individual pages.

They can be found on scanners and all-in-one printers and are usually located on top of the scanner or within the main paper tray.

Memory card slot | Many printers feature a memory card slot. This makes is possible to print directly from an SD or memory card without the need to connect to a PC. Simply pop the card in and use the printer’s screen to select the documents you need.

Pictbridge | PictBridge makes printing from your digital camera easy. Simply connect your camera via USB cable to print photos directly, without having to remove your SD card or connect to a computer.

OCR | OCR stands for optical character recognition and is a feature found on a number of scanners and all-in-one printers. OCR allows a scanned document to be converted into a word processing document that can be edited on a PC or tablet. While this usually only applies to printed text documents, some models feature handwriting recognition too.

HP Instant Ink | HP Instant Ink is an instant ink replacement service - ordered by your printer, delivered to your door.

Epson Ecotank | Epson EcoTank printers feature unique ink tanks that can be refilled and topped-up as necessary using cost-effective ink bottles.