Best Printers for Apple macs
Do I need a Laser or Inkjet Printer?
Buying a printer would seem to be straightforward but connecting the dots in the current printer market is not always so easy. First you need to decide what you want your printer to do -text? photos? scanning and copying ? If you had unlimited space and money you would probably be advised to buy a laser for text and an inkjet for photos . For home use your best choice is probably a Multi-function device (MFD) that uses an inkjet printer – you get good text production if you buy better quality printing paper. Many companies sell presentation papers for their inkjets that reduces ink-bleeding. Also make sure that the printer driver is set for best results- to high, or fine quality and that proper paper type is selected.
Do Multifunction printers (all-in-one) give poor quality results?
The short answer is no. Multifunctional machines combine printing, scanning, copying and sometimes faxing in one machine and you do not need to sactifice quality for convenience. The only drawback is that manufacturers don’t make multifunction versions of their highest quality printers -you really get what you pay for. The advantage of all-in-one printers is that they utilise space and save money when compared to buying separate individual devices.
For a Mac compatible multifunction printer try the HP Photosmart Premium Fax C309 -user reviews identify this model as the best all-in-one printer-scanner-fax with features that all perform well. Text and graphics are of high quality and it is speedy, especially with photos. It includes an Ethernet connector and Wi-Fi for network use and can print from flash drives or via Bluetooth. The automatic document feeder holds 50 sheets and the input tray holds 125 sheets. Duplex printing (on both sides of paper) is a little slow. The machine sits 18 inches by 19 inches by 11 inches and is very energy efficient. To check out prices at www.amazon.co.uk new models are around £235 or you could be lucky and get a used model for considerably less.
A built in duplexer in an MFP allows you to print on both sides of the paper and this can save money over time – but the downside is that the duplexing feature can slow down printing time. If you plan to use your MFP for scanning, look for one-button scanning as this allows you to scan an item without using software interface on your Mac. You place an item on your scanner, press a button on the MFP and the scan is automatically saved to your Mac. If you intend to use the copier, look for an automatic document feeder to copy multi-page documents. Most MFPs have USB interfaces for connecting to a single Mac. If you have AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, or Time Capsule you may be able to use USB to connect the MFP to the network device and share the printer over your network. Some MFP’s also support Bluetooth for printing from portable devices.
Many printers, even at the cheaper end of the market, offer both wired and wireless Ethernet printing options. The easiest way to share your USB printer over your local network is to enable printer sharing in the Print and Fax System Preferences.
Canon MX868 has been endorsed by many Mac owners – it is a combined printer/scanner/fax and a key feature of this model is that it can do duplex scanning. Canon MP560 (£120) is rated as a best buy by Which consumers at www.currys.co.uk so might be worth checking out. The Canon PIXMA MP640 (£159 at direct.tesco.com) packs everything into one easy-to-use- box and it has both Wi-Fi and Ethernet for network printing – it has five single ink tanks to reduce waste and it produces great photos.
Like most of the PIXMA range the inks are both pigment-based and dye-based black inks to give extra contrast in photo prints as well as solid, fast monotext performance. It prints on both sides of your paper ‘duplex’; its print quality is really good and scans are OK too. The downside is that it can be a fuss to set up … it is best to plug it in and let the OS grab the correct drives … once set up it’s a dream! The Canon PIXMA 490 (£69 from direct.tesco.com) is a good budget choice if you don’t need a fax with good-looking photos and text quality but copy and scan quality are better on more expensive MFDs.
Canon’s PIXMA MP990 is rated highly in reviews that focus on photo printing. The inkjet all-in-one printer’s features include the ability to scan and copy 35 mm film and slides and has a large 3.5-inch LCD screen for photo reviewing and editing. Its six ink cartridges include light grey which results in superb printing of monochrome photos. It has two input trays -one with a straight paper path designed for thicker photo media. This is a quality machine selling for around £259 from direct.tesco.com.
Siting a laser printer
Laser printers give inferior quality photos when compared to injet, however when it comes to big print jobs and speedy output, lasers still hold most of the cards. Laser printers emit tiny particles into the air when used and it is recommended that they should be sited away from areas where you sit because of health risks – particularly if the printer gets heavy use – it should be sited in well-ventilated areas.
For high volume mono and colour copying, ink costs can be high so it is worth considering the cheaper ongoing toner costs of a colour laser MFD as they will soon offset the initially higher purchase price of this kind of printer such as Brother MFC-7840W- cost per page of toner and drum units is 2.8p – most mono laser multifunction devices come in at more than 3p per sheet. The Brother’s dark and light grey case is more PC than Mac but unless you intend to position it in a design studio it shouldn’t stand out too much!
There are three different ways of connecting the machine: USB 2, Ethernet and wifi. Installing the Brother software gives you the option for each of these links- though the wireless connection does require you to cable the machine temporarily to your router, so it can pick up an IP address and other network parameters. MacUser say the Brother MFC-7840W is a simple but functional all in one printer with extras such as fax and wireless network compatability price quoted is £316 but latest prices range around £260.
Remember – if photo printing is on your priority list then go for an inkjet Canon or HP MFD.