How to buy a printer

What you print, and how much of it you print, should guide your buying decision. We explain how to choose a printer that's appropriate for your needs.

Snapshot Printers

Important consideration: print quality. Though price doesn't always reflect a snapshot printer's output quality, there is some correlation. Before deciding on a model, check our Top 5 Snapshot Printers chart to see how recent snapshot units stack up in our print-quality tests.

Important consideration: ink replacement cost. As with inkjets, before you buy, be sure to check the cost of a snapshot printer's replacement cartridges and how many pages each cartridge can print. Vendors generally charge $28 to $38 or more for a three-color cartridge (at this point, snapshot printers don't use individual color or black cartridges). Yields range from about 108 to 150 pages per cartridge, or a cost per page ranging from 25 to 29 cents, which is more than twice the cost per page for inkjets. See "Refilling the Tank" in "Printer Shopping Tips" on the next page for more.

Major consideration: media card slots. Many snapshot printers have media slots for printing from your camera's memory card or transferring the images to your PC. It's also a good idea to make sure that your digital camera's removable media (SD Card, Memory Stick, xD-Picture Card, and so on) is supported.

Major consideration: color display. A good-size LCD on the printer is worth having if you intend to print directly from a memory card. It lets you view and even edit photos without having to use your PC.

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