Back To School 2007: Printers

With papers to write and hand in, schedules to print out and even the occasional letter home (you can’t count on Grandma to check e-mail regularly), you’re going to need a quality printer. These should be rugged, yet compact and most importantly the toner or ink cartridges shouldn’t cost more than the original printer! Here are a few units we liked to get you printing.

All-in-One Units
A few years ago the idea of an all-in-one printer, scanner, copier was something that sounded great on paper (no pun intended), but in practice did a fair job at a multitude of tasks, but did not tackle any task remarkably well. What’s worse, you had to pay for the privilege of having it a do-it-all device. Times have changed, and we were impressed with some of the latest offerings that have hit the market.

hp-photosmart-c4280.jpgFor the budget minded student, the HP Photosmart C4280 offers a lot of options for less than a keg of cheap beer. At $99 this printer offers a 1.5-inch LCD screen, and auto paper sensor, plus it is compact enough to stash under the desk. On the downside it is a tad slow when printing photos, and there is no PictBridge port. But for the price it is a good, and fairly durable printer.

hp-photosmart-c7280.jpgA better option might be a step up might be to the HP Photosmart C7280 ($299.99). This all-in-one printer, 4800dpi scanner, copier also features a fax option. Yeah, faxing is so last century, but there are times when it comes in very handy – such as when you need to order a pizza! You can fax both color and black and white documents directly from the unit, or via a PC. Even more impressive is the built-in wireless and Ethernet connectivity with the C7280 that allows you to stash the printer in a closet and still print without the need of stringing wires throughout the apartment or dorm room. This is a six-color printer, and each color ink cartridge can be replaced individually — so you don’t need to worry about wasting money should you just run out of cyan.

lemark4550.jpgIf $300 for a printer is beyond your budget, and you don’t want to live off mac & cheese to be able to print, Lexmark has a printer that isn’t too cheap functionally yet isn’t too expensive. The Lexmark X4550 ($129.99) is a wireless all-in-one, which can print, copy and scan. It is also small enough that it won’t overwhelm your limited space. Text prints are speedy, and while it doesn’t have the best quality it is quite reasonable for the money. More importantly this printer also include memory card slots and PictBridge, while also working very well as a scanner.

epson-rx680.jpgOne thing that the HP and Lexmark printers can’t handle is direct printing to a CD/DVD, which is something the Epson Stylus Photo RX680 ($199.99) can handle at ease. How often you’ll need to print on a CD or DVD is questionable, but if you want to do it this printer can handle it. It features a 2.5-inch tilt LCD screen, along with auto photo correction. Of course this all-in-one can also scan and copy, and while it does both reasonably well the novelty feature is the ability to personalize your CDs.

Single-Function Printer
lexmark-z1420.jpgOK, so you don’t need all the bells and whistles of an all-in-one. Then consider the new single-function printer line from Lexmark. These include the very basic Lexmark Z1420 ($79.99), which still includes built-in wireless and color printing options. It is among the most compact document printers out, and thanks to the wireless option you can stash it practically anywhere. It is also a very speedy printer, even if the print quality isn’t that impressive. It is good enough for college papers, but when it comes time to print out the resume after graduate you might want to step up.

Photo Printers
College is the time for those precious memories, and while you can save everything digitally, who wouldn’t want a few photos on the wall. But whether you’re the simple photo in a frame, or wall of every kegger from the past year, printing out photos doesn’t mean dropping off film anymore.

r380.jpgThe Epson Stylus Photo R380 Plus ($129.99) is the little brother to the aforementioned RX680. As with the more powerful all-in-one, this photo printer uses Epson’s Claria Hi-Defintion Ink to produce glossy photos that are truly dry to the touch. Photos won’t smudge, scratch or fade and you can even pour water on them – just don’t try that with other digital prints! Epson claims the photos should last 200 years in appropriate storage conditions, which doesn’t include taped to the wall, but you’re going to likely burn any embarrassing college photos long before then anyway. And as with the RX680, the R380 can print on CD/DVDs, and is PictBridge compatible and features multiple card slots, along with individual ink tanks so you only replace the ink you really need.

hp-photosmart-a626.jpgIf you’re on the go, or just need a smaller photo printer, consider the HP Photosmart A626 Compact Photo Printer ($179). This portable unit features a 4.8-inch color touchscreen, and includes a variety of options including album pages, frames, graphics and other effects that can jazz up your photos. It has a built-in handle and fold-up tray, plus can work with an optional battery, making for a truly on the go device. The A626 can print 4×6-inch and 5×7-inch photos, which are instant dry, as well as smudge and fade resistant. Along with a digital camera, this is the Polaroid for the 21st century.

Label Printer
pt1010.jpgFor many college students the years in the dorm will either teach you to embrace the socialist ideals of share and share alike, or will turn you into a true blood thirsty capitalist (I can relate). If you’re the latter than a label printer is a necessary tool to have. The Brother P-Touch Electronic Labeling System newest handheld label printer, the Brother PT-1010 ($39.99) is a must have for those who want to say “hands off my salad dressing.” It can print labels up to a half and inch wide on laminated indoor/outdoor tape, and even features three type sizes and eight type styles.