Best Home Small Business Printer

Color Printer

Best Home Small Business Printer

Best Home Small Business Printer – where do I find one? The problem these days is that there are too many choices.

While a color laser printer used to be out of reach for home and small businesses they can be had for a reasonable price these days.

The initial cost of the Best Home Small Business Printer is just the beginning.

Keeping them in ink or toner can be expensive.

Bells and Whistles for Best Home Small Business Printer

Adding to the confusion of finding the Best Home Small Business Printer is all the bells and whistles that are available.

  • WiFi
  • FAX
  • ADF (Automatic Document Feeder)
  • Ethernet
  • print-shop-quality color prints
  • laser-sharp black and color text
  • high-speed prints
  • multiple paper trays
  • monthly duty cycle (pages/month)
  •  auto 2-sided print/copy/scan/fax.

Wireless Printers

Wireless printers allows printing from tablets (e.g., iPad) and

smartphones (e.g., iPhone). Not all printers make this easy.

Some printers may require mobile devices to print to the cloud (Internet).

While this can be useful we want our Best Home Small Business Printer to connect directly to.

Some may require you to print to their cloud or allow popular clouds like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.

Printing to the cloud may not be a concern if you have high-speed Internet but it might be a problem if you depend on a cellular data plan to upload the files.

There are also security concerns for uploading sensitive documents to the cloud.

Downs Consulting recommends a wireless printer that doesn’t require printing to the cloud. We prefer our Best Home Small Business Printer to print directly via WiFi.

Printing to the cloud is a nice feature but we don’t want all our print jobs to go through it.

Wi-Fi

Wireless setup sounds nice. In theory you setup your Best Home Small Business Printer anywhere you have

Wireless Connection

power and WiFi reception and you are “good to go”.

The printer forums are littered with complaints about printers connected or rather not connected via WiFi.

It’s common for WiFi to drop the connections. It’s similar to mobile phone connections.

Dropping a connection in the middle of a big print job could cause problems. Maybe you would have to start all over again after waiting minutes for it to enter the print queue.

The reality is that WiFi is not as dependable as an Ethernet connection.

Our advice is to use a wired connection if at all possible. This requires an Ethernet connections which some models may not have.

Ethernet

This is our preferred method of connecting our printer. We

can still use WiFi to connect to our mobile devices.

Downs Consulting recommends a networked printer that is not tied to a computer.

Many printers limit their functions if connected via USB.

Some printers may not have this capability.

Footprint and Noise

A noisy printer right next to you in a small office is no small intrusion on

your space.

Likewise, a huge printer is not going to very welcome either.

While there are plenty of small printers they tend to skimp on some features.

A small printer may be better for a Home user that doesn’t need all the “bells and whistles”.

When we settled on our Best Home Small Business Printer we still had to convince our office that we had room for it.

Printer Maintenance Costs – Ink & Toner

A major concern is operating costs. It’s common to see the ink/toner

replacement cost more than the printer.

Printers often come with starter

supplies that don’t last as long as the standard capacity.

Usually, you can find high-yield supplies that are a better buy in the long run.

It also saves on the aggravation of running to the store for supplies.

Some printers may refuse to work at all if one of their cartridges are low. This is particularly frustrating if you don’t need that cartridge for the job you have queued up.

New Color Inkjet printers can be up to 50% cheaper to operate than a color laser.

Review Sites

Review sites are a good place to start looking for available features, costs,

and buyer or editor opinions.

Preferably the  site has lost of reviews so the overall score can’t be skewed one way or another by a few one-sided reviews.

If there are not many reviews you may not get an accurate assessment.

Likewise, the site should not have a vested interest in the sale of the product and reviewers should be able to post sincere remarks.

A lack of disparaging or complimentary remarks could be a sign of bias.

 

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is a great resource for buying appliances like this but you need a subscription to see their reviews online. They compile statistics on the main categories including maintenance cost, print quality, photo quality, and speed.

You can usually get a free trial for online or magazines. The magazines come with a buyers guide and is a good resource in itself.

The Consumer Reports interactive video below offers some good advice.  You can click on the sections you are most interested in.

Other Review Sites

Some websites like PC Magazine have editor and user reviews.

Amazon has good prices and user reviews.

Bad Reviews

No printer is perfect in every way and we found bad reviews on the best-rated ones.

Some bad reviews may have been from lemons or simply technical errors. Some may have had issues with their networks. Some may have been malicious.

Laser Printers

Since some inkjet printers are cheaper to run than a color laser we would

not recommend a color laser as a Best Home Small Business Printer.

If you are only concerned about printing text then you may want to consider buying a monochrome laser printer.

Text quality has long been the domain of the laser printer but even here  inkjet printers are competitive with text print quality and speed.

Inkjet Printers

For us, all roads point to a Multi-Function inkjet printer which is somewhat disappointing.

Just when the costs of color laser have become affordable, inkjet

Inkjet printer – Downs Consulting

technology has become competitive in all respects.

 

We shouldn’t complain since keeping up with multiple toners for the color laser is not a task we would want.

Inkjet ink itself is expensive enough.

Compromises for the Best Home Small Business Printer

 

If you find a printer that is perfect in every way then it is likely a budget breaker.

Consequently, you have to decide what’s the most important features you need and what you can do without.

Our Best Home Small Business Printer requirements:

  1. Network connection  using our LAN (local area )
  2. Print laser-sharp text
  3. Print color and text
  4. FAX
  5. Scan
  6. Low Cost
  7. Reasonable speed
  8. Reasonable maintenance costs – Save on ink or toner
  9. Multiple Paper Trays

Nice to have features

  1. ADF – Automatic Document Feeder
  2. Automatic 2-sided print/copy/scan/fax
  3. Easy printing from tablets and smartphones – Android, Apple & Windows products
  4. Fast print speeds
  5. Stunning graphics and images

Local Printing Using Remote Desktop

Trouble Local Printing Using Remote Desktop?

Windows 7 sometimes has issues with printing to a local printer using a Remote Desktop Connection (RDC).

The 1st step is to verify that printers are checked on the Local Resources tab of the Remote Desktop Connection. It is checked by default.

Local Printing Using Remote Desktop – Install the Same Driver

Local Resources – RDC

If you have the same printer model  at home as one at the office then Windows may be confused. It’s best if you install the same printer driver for office & home. The best bet is to check the manufacturer’s website for a driver that fits all of the Operating  Systems involved.

Example:

Scenario – Home & Office both have Gestetner P7325N printers. Office Print Server is 2003 Standard while the connecting remote PC & the Office PC is Windows 7.

Gestetner P7325N – Manufacturer Drivers

Common driver for most Operating Systems – PCL Mini Driver 2.16

32 bit Operating System/64 bit Operating System

32 bit & 64 bit machines may also complicate the process. If necessary install the driver 32 bit O/S on a 32 bit machine & the 64 bit driver on a 64 bit machine. Share both printers & PCs can then choose a matching printer.

You can ascertain if your PC is 64 bit by right clicking “My Computer” and selecting properties. In the System section you will see “64-bit Operating System” or something similar if it’s 64-bit. 32-bit Operating Systems may just list the Operating System without denoting it as 32-bit.

Add Printer Wizard

Also check to see if you can add a local printer on the remote PC.

Run the Add Printer Wizard for “Local Printer” & find any printer that has the PC Name attached to it. It may not look remotely like the printer you are searching for but there probably won’t be a lot of choices.

 

Multiple Networks – Combining

Need to combine multiple networks?

Network – Router – Windows 8 – Mac – Printers

Combining Multiple Networks

Combining Multiple Networks

Combining Multiple Networks can be tricky. Perhaps you had everything on the same network and replaced or introduced new hardware.

 

Let’s say that you have a small network with printers, PCs, Macs, connected via a switch to your Internet Service Provider’s,  (ISP‘s) router/modem. This is not the best network design but it’s common for home and small offices. For the most part this network will work OK but you lose some security & versatility by using the ISP provided router/modem.

If our router/modem fails in the above scenario you will typically call your ISP to provide another router/modem. Since they are not likely to configure the router/modem you may end up with a new network. Let’s say that they switched you from the LAN of 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.1.1.

Since you are now on a new network anything with a static ip won’t work. DHCP devices should be fine. There are several alternatives to fix the new network:

Change the router subnets.

Technicians connecting network cable.

While this is the simplest change there may be issues that you don’t foresee and you won’t get a lot of help from the ISP. This also requires you to have the credentials. Typically you can find these on the router itself unless it’s been changed. Even if it has you can use a reset.

You may find yourself stranded from the router if you are connecting through the existing network. That’s one reason you need a direct connection to the router. All in all this simple change may be the most intimidating.

Change the Printers with static ips

Printers typically are assigned static ips which are outside the scope of DHCP. This prevents a conflicting ip from showing up on your network. In general printer ips are not that difficult to change through the menu. In some cases, you may need credentials to make the changes.

You will need to update the ip on the ports of printers or just remove & add the printer. The latter is the best method since it will force the computer to download the driver.

You may also need to calibrate your printer to make sure image quality is OK.

Windows 8

Windows 8

Windows 8 adds another obstacle to making changes. For starters there’s no start bar. You can swipe from right edge and search for Printer or Control Panel.

You can use the Charm bar (position mouse in the top or bottom right corners of the screen or Windows C) to search. An easier method is to right-click to get the lower left corner of the screen. This opens the Quick Access Menu. Likewise Windows “i” opens another Charm Bar Settings with the Control Panel.

Once you get into the printer properties changing the printers is much the same as in Windows 7. It’s probably best to just remove the printer and add it back with the new ip.

MAC

Macs make things easy but it’s not always apparent that you are getting the results you want. Once your printers are up and running on the new ip it’s simple enough to go to any print menu and add the printer.

The preferred method is to delete the printer from the Print Center (/Applications/Utilities/) and then add the printer with the new ip.

Testing

You will want to print a test page from all workstations and check the print quality. Look closely since some issues may clip the print and/or use too wide a margin.