If you have a computer, you pretty much need a printer. Although most documents are viewed and transferred electronically these days, it’s always good to have a hard copy on hand for your records. You can’t have a reliable paper trail without paper and that means you need a printer for your business.

Today’s office printers run the gamut from the simply basic to units that offer multiple features and capabilities. Any smart consumer is going to want to balance cost with functionality and depending upon what you will need the printer to do on a daily basis, choosing the right one can prove a challenge.

In an effort to make your decision a little bit easier, here are the main factors to consider as you begin your search for a home office printer.

Printer Types

When it comes to your printing options, you’re looking at inkjet or laser. It used to be that the former was the less expensive option to the higher priced latter choice, but you can now get the same quality and contrast with affordability regardless of the option you want.

The biggest distinction between the two is the way in which your document is physically printed, making one more ideal for your situation based on how often you plan to use the machine and for what purposes.

Inkjet

As the name suggests, inkjet printers use ink to manufacture the document that emerges from the unit. For this type of printing, high-powered jets spray millions of minute dots of ink to reproduce your text or image on the surface of the paper.

While these printers are capable of displaying a wide ranging color palette, the printed page might demonstrate some slight pixelation or bleed from the ink spray. Even with low-cost printers, this may not be entirely noticeable unless you’re actively looking closely to see it.

These inks are built to dry fast but there is always the possibility of slight smudging if you happen to grab a freshly printed page too quickly while it’s still a little wet.

Inkjet printers are a great choice for printing documents and images and recommended for office environments with low to medium print volumes per day. In other words, if you’re mainly printing out text documents from time to time, an inkjet is the perfect choice for your home office.

Laser

One of the two advantages of laser is that it doesn’t use ink but toner which is a powder version of ink that is heated and applied to the page to produce your document. Even after the powder is heated during that process, it is never wet or moist when it exits the machine so there’s no danger of smudging.

The other is that the finished result is blended well so that the pixelation of inkjet is nowhere to be found on a laser printed page.

With that said, there are some drawbacks to laser that you simply don’t have to worry about with ink. The biggest of these is a lack of color, due to the printing process utilized there is a loss of range in the color palette of laser. Shades and hues aren’t as rich and brilliant as you will find on inkjet printers. In fact, when it comes to printing photos and images, laser is usually not the best option.

However, if you expect to lean on the printer for heavy print volumes and routine daily use, then a laser machine might actually be the best choice for your home office.

Special Features

Now that you’ve decided which type suits you best. Think about what else you want the printer to offer. There is no shortage of bells and whistles out there, from units that have smaller to larger paper capacities, auto document feeders, duplex printing, and even additional functions.

As to the latter, you can now find highly affordable “all in one” machines that come with built-in copiers, scanners, and fax machines, if that’s something you can still use in the operation of your business. Resolution quality is important so you want to be sure your machine has some of the highest value dpi (dots per inch) possible.

Of course some of these machines may be a little more expensive than a standard everyday printer, so weigh your options with respect to cost and value as you comparison shop between make and model.

Most of the latest models even offer wireless capabilities that let you print from a wide variety of devices be it your laptop, smartphone, tablet, and so on. Many of them now have USB ports so you can plug a flash drive directly into the machine and download and print files from your storage.