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Picking a laser printer.

When it comes to choosing a laser printer, many may think it is a shot in the dark. And, with so many laser printers to choose from in this information market, even the most professional can be lost.

But this does not have to be the case if you consider these steps. The first step in finding a laser printer to suit your needs is to first find out what your needs are. What will you be using the laser printer for? Will your work require a number of different fonts? What graphics, if any, will be required for any project or correspondence you might do?

The next step in the equation is to research the products already on the market and what they can do for your type of business. A small company which wants better quality for their correspondence does not have to go for a top of the line laser printer for what they need. A large corporation which uses a laser printer for everything from correspondence to advertising material on a day-to-day basis would be better off with a model which can handle high quality, high volume work.

The Technology of Laser Printers

Before delving headfirst into the array of options available for laser printers, you must first consider if the software you are using can talk to the laser printer and printer drives. All of this may seem technical and confusing to some.

In simple terms, the computer application software (i.e. Word-Perfect) must be able to tell the laser printer what it has to do, in its own language.

One of the reasons many individuals and businesses are looking towards laser printers is because of the quality these printers can provide. This is quality printing which the standard dot matrix cannot supply. There are two main reasons for this difference. The laser printer is a non-impact printer which means the printer cartridge does not physically touch the paper. The second reason lies in the number of different fonts available.

Professional opinions are always the best way to go if you are having difficulty choosing a laser printer. The choice can be very difficult for the consumer if they are not familiar with the software and printers which work best together. There are many options open in regards to laser printers such as the HP111, HP4 and PostScript. And, it can be difficult to choose the right printer to work with your current system.

Options to Look For

In order to narrow the field of choices presented to you and your business, you must first take a closer look at the overwhelming number of options available and if they suit your needs.


The laser printer can use a number of fonts either through the software you choose to run (Pagemaker, WordPerfect), the information stored in the laser printer itself, or the cartridge you insert into the printer.

One of the best font options lies in the selection available through the Windows 3.1 program. Most laser printers can use these fonts and proportionally scale them for what you want to do. People can choose from standard courier font, Helvetica, Times, New Times Roman or a variety of other fonts. Check what fonts the laser printer and memory can handle before making your choice.

Memory (RAM) and Graphics

In order to incorporate these options such as the different fonts and/or graphics, the most important element you should consider is whether there is enough memory to run them.

With the new technology changing so frequently and continually bringing new options to the potential laser printer user, extra memory is a bonus in the long run.

Having enough memory is important, even for the person who uses the printer for correspondence only. There must be enough memory in the laser printer to allow the printer to temporarily store and print multi-font documents.

The amount of memory you choose to have depends a lot on what you want the laser printer to do. For short documents using two or three fonts, 512Ks of memory will work for you. But if you want to incorporate graphics or anything more than two or three fonts, consider obtaining a lot more memory. Desktop publishing and detailed drawings can eat up at least 2.5 MB.

If you have 512Ks of memory and have used it all, there is an immediate problem. No one likes to work on documents, try to print them out and discover that you can't finish it because you have insufficient memory. But this is the situation you will encounter if your memory capacity is less than what you really need.

With the computer and information technologies changing so rapidly, it is always difficult to stay on top of the trend. The best bet is to buy a bit better than you need so when new applications come on the market, you won't be left short.


PostScript is a more sophisticated method of printing used mainly for creating detailed and intricate drawings or in the publishing field. It is also a more expensive option and not one to be considered it you don't require a lot of detail in your documents.

Choosing a laser printer doesn't always have to be a shot in the dark. Knowing what you need and the options available to you are very important considerations. And, by remembering these three points, laser printer technology can be in the palm of your hand:

1. Laser printers will probably be HP111 or HP4 compatible.

2. Purchase a laser printer which is a bit better than what you need from the start. Leaving yourself with leftover memory can allow for any updates or upgrading you might require in the future.

3. Buy from only leading vendors when looking for parts, service and toners. These are well-known companies with well-known reputations.

John Willetts is Account Manager for Catalina Network Solutions Inc., a systems integration company specializing in hardware and software network solutions for business and industry.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Computing
Author:Willetts, John
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Dec 22, 1994
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