Understanding printer and photocopier specs - Part 2

In this article, we’ll continue to give you more pointers and info relating to the printing world. We’ll consider what you need to look for before choosing a new printer, like the testing you should conduct to check print quality.

Though you don't hear the terms used a lot anymore, it helps to know an important technological distinction between inkjet and laser printers in order to judge whether you need to care about processor and memory specs.

Inkjets and laser printers - the differences

Inkjets are line printers and lasers are page printers. With line printers, the computer composes the page in its memory, streaming it to the printer in small packets.  That means it generally doesn't matter how fast the printer processor is, or how much memory it has.

Alternatively, page printers need to hold an entire page in memory, so it images the whole thing at once. That means more printer memory allows it to buffer more pages.

Generally, for typical jobs, you won't see a great difference in speed. Text documents don't take up much memory, although if you often print large images or big graphics files, especially at higher resolutions, more printer memory can make a difference.

Paper handling

The typical paper-handling specs on a printer include everything from the standard and optional input/ output-tray capacity, to the size and thickness of various types of paper.  As a general rule, all inkjets and personal laser printers print on standard paper, accept envelopes, and have input and output trays that hold at least 100 sheets, except for portable and snapshot models.  Many models also have advanced paper-handling features, like the facility to print on both sides, (known as 'duplexing'), tabloid-size printing, along with auto document feeders for faxing and copying.

Printers move paper in a variety of paths with names like "L-shaped" or "U-shaped." You will note that those letters have bends in them. If your intention is to work with relatively stiff materials, (like card), then you need a printer that has a straight-through paper path, which usually runs from back to front.

These are not particularly convenient however, as you often need to have extra clearance at the back of the printer as well as the front.  Also, you can usually only feed a single page at a time, but they do avoid you bending the material in question.

Judging print quality

An essential rule when purchasing or renting a new printer is to ensure you have a printing demo before you pay!  Otherwise, there's no foolproof way to tell exactly how text and images will appear. While there are many retail stores who let you print demonstration pages to get a feel for the output quality, unfortunately they often do a miserable job of maintaining the demo units.   Consequently, the prints that you see may end up not reflecting the true quality of the units you are testing, that is, if you can the print at all! 

However, if youaresomehow able to see output samples, this is what you should look for…

For printers featuring card slots, you might want to come prepared armed with an SD card with your own photos on it and see if they'll let you print a couple.


Most demo pages include rows of text at varying sizes, which show up any different types of flaws.  With the smallest font sizes, individual letters should be fully formed with no breaks. They must also be legible and shouldn't 'bleed' into one another.  Medium-size fonts should be crisp with no 'fuzzy' edges, while the largest fonts, especially when in 'bold' type, should not be a muddy bluish or brownish tone, but be filled in with a solid, even black.  Look also at the tops and bottoms of characters.  If you see a pattern of dots incorrectly aligned from one row to the next, forming jagged outlines, or they are slightly offset, this usually indicates mis-registration of the print head.

You should also see well-defined openings in the letterforms.  If you don't, that's usually a sign of the printer laying down too much ink.  Remember that on plain, what the Americans call, '20-pound paper', inkjet printers will usually display some wicking, as the ink bleeds along the paper fibres. Watch also for 'satellite', or ink spray, which will appear as random dots of ink in what should be empty space.

  • Paragon Comment

There are some excellent and very important tips here, which will stand you in good stead when buying or renting your new printer.  A little knowledge will enable you to be better informed, when choosing a product to fulfil all your requirements. 

Contact us and speak to one of Paragon's experienced technicians, who know all about print quality and the pros and cons of the printing technology of today.  We can offer you a photocopier leasing or printer rental service that is second to none.  Our testimonials speak for themselves…

'We have found paragon to be a committed and reliable company and would recommend them for your document solutions.'

We are a company who don't seek to pull the wool over your eyes. We aim to match/beat any price you are given. No longer is it good enough to just be the 'quickest' or the 'cheapest'. Today, to survive you have to be the best. This means delivering the best quality, at the best price, on time.

Why not try us for photocopier leasing?  You won't regret your choice!


Well, if you are not thoroughly versed in photocopier and printer 'tech speak' and 'know how' by now, then you had best call us.  With just a little knowledge and with the help of a reputable supplier like Paragon, you won't go far wrong when buying or renting your new printing equipment.

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