Tuesday, June 02, 2009

TechTeach, issue Seven

Today, we’ll take a look at printers. Names to look at are: Epson, HP, Canon, Brother, Lexmark are all pretty good now.

I know most of you, if not all, have a printer. It’s probably an ink-jet, and connects via USB to your computer. Most all printers can print on photo paper and even on fabric. Basic models will only have two tanks (one for black and another for red/blue/yellow) for ink. I strongly suggest having four tanks (one each for black, red, blue, and yellow). A few high-end printers have six tanks; they include a light red and a light blue for photos. These tanks tend to be smaller and cost less.

Look for a printer that does both full-sized paper, like 8.5 by 11, and photo paper, like 4 by 6, Then you can print out pictures using both less paper and less ink.

Here’s a nice feature: the ability to print without turning on the computer. Many Epsons and HP printers do that. You just insert your memory card into the appropriate slot and the printer will, depending on what you have, print out a proof sheet of the pictures with bubble dots under the pictures for you fill in with what pictures you want printed, like the old ScanTron test strips. Or, if you get a fancy printer with a small LCD screen, you can scroll through the files on the memory card and pick the ones you want. You might even be able to do some editing of the picture before you print. Some offer the ability to rotate, crop, and even add borders to your picture. And you can find some printers with small touchscreens to navigate the memory card and functions.

I don’t believe the resolution of the printer is very important anymore. Anything that does photo-quality printing will make a fine text printer also. You can also get a laser (they run around 99-140) if you find you are doing more black and white text than photos. Color lasers are still a bit pricey. But, lasers offer better price per page for text printing.

Something else you need to be aware if you use special paper that is sided, like the fabric with the sticky back or photo-paper, is how it goes into the printer. With Epsons and printer that feed from the back, the paper goes side up. With HPs and printers that feed from the bottom, you want to put the printed side down, as the paper will make a U-turn so the underside will become the top. If you are unsure, it’s always a good idea to mark a piece of plain paper with TOP or BOTTOM and print on that to see what side it’s printing on.

To save some ink, you can also print in economy mode. Printing will be lighter, but you can use that mode for test prints and things you just want to get out on paper. And you can use plain copier paper for printing. I usually buy paper by the case.

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