When did printing your photos at home get so interesting, anyway? With powerful new features and functionality, the home printer is now an important component in any modern household’s “connected ecosystem,” according to Chris Faulder, merchandise manager at Best Buy Canada. “If you were shopping five years ago there was a definite line in the sand between a photo printer and a home printer,” he said. Today’s consumer now has access to hybrid models, all-in-one units that can print photos and handle other daily printing needs.
Not only can all-in-one printers produce lab-quality images at a reasonable price, new features such as wireless let you print those photos “when you want and how you want, with no wait times,” said Esteban Davila, consumer marketing manager at HP Canada’s Imaging and Printing Group.
Perhaps most significantly, Davila said, this generation of all-in-one printers offers completely new opportunities to share and get creative with your photo collection, whether it’s “ePrinting a photo to family, framing vacation photos or creating a scrapbook.” HP Print Apps and HP Creative Studio also allow the creation of calendars, stickers, party kits or stationary, often linked to brands such as Disney, DreamWorks and the NBA.
Dollars vs. the drugstore
And the prices have really dropped. A $100 to $200 investment in an all-in-one printer will produce lab-quality prints with all the features. “That price band will give you everything you need,” Faulder said.
Where that value proposition starts to break down is in ongoing operating costs. As both HP and Best Buy acknowledge, toner and paper are going to cost you more money than running down to the local drugstore to print your photos once a month.
“But the difference in that calculation comes down to a matter of cents,” Faulder said. He likes to remind people that, as with other time-saving devices in our homes, there is a major “opportunity cost” attached to printing your own photos.
To illustrate, Faulder paints a typical portrait of a wife and husband discussing which photos they want to print, who should go down to the drugstore to print them and when they can find time on a busy Sunday to tackle that chore. “We got the printer because I was just plain tired of doing the run.”
In this fashion, he said, photo-capable printers “are sort of the cure for the disease you never knew you had.”
What’s right for you?
“The first thing to consider when choosing a printer is how you’re going to be using it,” said HP’s Davila. “Will it be used for everyday printing of documents and occasionally some photos? Or just photos?”
Answering that “will help you decide whether you need a dedicated photo printer, or an all-in-one device.”
Best Buy’s Faulder concurs, adding only that consumers should “buy something that suits their lifestyle.” If you’re really into photography and want to produce super-high-quality 11x7 prints, for example, then you might want to look for a higher-end or stand-alone photo printer.
Other factors to consider are the size of the printer, noise output, print speed and the type of cartridges and toner it uses.
Expert advice on selecting a photo printer
When selecting a photo printer, be sure to ask these four questions:
- Can you print to the device from anywhere?
- Can you print using your mobile device or tablet?
- Does the printer include apps that allow you to get creative and personalize your prints?
- Does the printer allow you to edit and customize your photos without jacking into a PC?
HP ePrint Printers
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