About to bite the bullet and buy a new printer? Anthony Hill, Head of Technology at Geeks2U, is here to help. His expert advice will help you navigate the baffling world of cables and cartridges, making all the difficult decisions easy to help you choose the best printer, whether you need a home office printer or one for your small business.

Firstly, Do I Really Need a Printer?

In a digital world, where invoices and receipts are often sent out electronically, a printer might seem like a relic from another, less-efficient time. But Anthony suggests you may be surprised by just how necessary and useful having a business or home office printer on hand truly is. “I don’t think we can go entirely paperless, as much as we try,” he says. “There’s always something that needs to be printed out. A printer of some description is still an essential device for most businesses.”

What’s Best: An Inkjet or Laser Printer?

Discover if an inkjet or laser printer is the best option for your home office or small business

Great question! There are benefits for both but it really depends on the type of printing you’re planning on doing. “For your general business use where you want to print documents and higher volumes, laser printers are usually more economical,” says Anthony. “Laser printers use a powder-based ink and their toner cartridges tend to last a lot longer and can print a lot more pages for the same volume.” But what if you need to print photos? “Inkjet printers are great for when you want to print high quality photos on special photo paper,” he says. “That really isn’t going to work as well on a laser printer.”

What’s a Multifunction Printer and Do I Need One?

A multifunction printer does what it says on the tin – it’s part printer, part scanner and part fax machine, rolled into one super-useful machine. They can be a real game-changer in a home office, saving you time, space and money while offering increased functionality. “They’re very common these days and can be very handy,” says Anthony. “If you had a document you wanted to scan or some old printed photos to put up electronically, it can do that. And just making a copy of a document? It works as a photocopier as well.” Keep in mind that a multifunction printer may be a little larger than a stand-alone printer, and may be more expensive at the outset too.

SEE ALSO: Let the Geek Guide You: Tech Essentials for Your Home Office

Can You Get Wireless Printers?

Wireless printers make it easy to connect to devices in your home office or small business

You certainly can and they’re a practical solution if you need to print from multiple devices or computers, especially at your place of business. “You can get a printer that doesn't need to be directly plugged in to your router,” says Anthony. “These days, most of us are connecting to our home networks via WiFi with all sorts of devices – phones to laptops to music devices. Printers are just the same.” The added bonus? Any device connected to your local network can press ‘Print’. Note, though, wireless printers, in spite of their name, still need to be plugged into a power point.

What Are the Best Printer Brands?

“HP, Canon, Epson and Brother are probably the four major brands that we deal with,” says Anthony. If you’re looking for an excellent printer that produces high quality print-outs, one of these brands would be a top choice. Epson and Canon are seen as the leaders in inkjet printers while HP and Brother dominate laser printing. For an in-depth comparison of various printer models, check out the Officeworks Printers Buying Guide.

I’m On a Budget. How Can I Keep Costs Down?

The best printer for your home office or small business will meet your needs – and budget

These days you can pick up a printer by a reputable brand for under $50. But the cost of ink or toner cartridges is a huge factor as you’ll need to replace these often, especially if your printouts are piling up. Loosely speaking, a toner cartridge will last seven times longer than an ink cartridge and ink cartridges need to be replaced every 200 pages or so, depending on “page coverage” or how much text and how many images are on each page. Anthony recommends looking for more economical options when replacing your ink or toner: “With laser printers you can get higher volume or long-life cartridges, so you can get a lot more pages out of them. Similarly, with inkjet printers, you can get extra-large ink cartridges which allow them to print a lot more pages.” Continuous ink printers are new to the market and contain refillable ink tanks or high capacity ink cartridges, with the aim of being replaced once every two years or so.

I Don’t Have Much Space. Which Printer Should I Choose?

Here’s the good news: “Like most technology these days, printers are getting smaller and smaller. Some can sit on a small cupboard or the edge of a desk and not take up much room at all,” says Anthony. If you’re looking to print mostly photos, Canon makes a compact photo printer that takes up hardly any room at all. Most brands, including Brother and Epson, also make compact printer models, with smaller footprints designed to save you space. Or, you can also purchase wide format printers for printing posters, maps and blueprints, which helps prove that there’s a printer out there that’s best for your business or home office needs, whatever those may be.

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