Top Printers for College Studentsby Ken Burnside
Advancing technology and promises of paperless offices notwithstanding, college students still turn in papers in hard copy. A printer is an essential piece of gear in any dorm room or college apartment. Small dorm rooms put a premium on small printers. Choosing printers that can handle abuse or be inexpensively replaced are also important considerations for college students.
Small Laser Printers
Laser printers have become remarkably small -- the Dell B1160 and B1160W is 7 inches by 8.5 inches by 13 inches. The B1160W model has wireless connectivity, which is handy if you don't want to drag cables all over the place. It has a 150-sheet paper tray, which is sufficient for most college print jobs, and its print speed is about seven pages per minute. It is a monochrome laser, so it's mostly good for term papers. PC Magazine rates it as adequate for black and white graphics. The primary advantage of this printer is reliability and low cost of operation -- toner cartridges are much cheaper than inkjet cartridges. Similar laser printers include the HP 1102W and the Samsung ML-2165W.
Multifunction Inkjet Printers
Multifunction printers combine a scanner, a copier and sometimes a fax machine into one device and are usually in a price range suitable for college students. Inkjet printers work on the razor-blade business model: Sell the printer at as low a price as possible and make up the money by selling consumables. The Epson Expression 410 All-in-One printer is no exception. It has a scanner bed, good text output for an inkjet printer and a low commercial price. It has text print speeds of about six pages per minute and is small enough to be dorm room friendly. It comes with both USB and Wi-Fi options, and it can print color presentations. This isn't the right printer if your college plans involve printing lots of papers, but it's more than good enough for mixed color and black and white printouts. It can print the occasional photo, but the cost per page in ink makes that a luxury. Comparable printers from other manufacturers include the Brother Printer MFCJ450DW and the Canon PIXMA MX922.
Single-Function Inkjet Printers
Hewlett-Packard refreshes its budget, single-function DeskJet printer line regularly. The current model is the Deskjet 2540, and it is a low-cost printer that -- for an inkjet -- has inexpensive consumables. Beyond the standard USB and nearly standard Wi-Fi connectivity, it handles direct connections from Mac OS AirPrint as well as iOS and Android printing. Print quality is respectable for text at six to seven pages per minute, and while its limited color-ink reservoir means it's not great for printing photos, on its highest quality setting, it's adequate for them. Controls are positively Spartan, with no touch-screen interface. No other manufacturer still makes single-function inkjet printers, and it's unlikely that this category will exist for much longer.
A photo printer or art printer may be a worthwhile investment for a college student who is going into graphic design or fine arts as a degree program. The Epson Stylus line is Epson's high-end photo printer brand, and while it's expensive, it produces high-quality images. It also functions as a scanner and copier and prints straight text at six pages per minute. Its consumables costs are high. Opt for the high-capacity ink cartridges to print large-volume photo projects. The Samsung SPP-2040 and Canon SELPHY CP910 are comparable photo printers.
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