Computer printers are a common sight in homes and offices. They often come as part of a computer bundle that includes a mouse, keyboard and monitor. Computer printers also come in several varieties, including simple inexpensive models and high-end versions with many features. Having a printer has definite advantages, but also carries certain drawbacks.
The primary advantage of a computer printer is convenience. Printing documents at home can save time and money compared to visiting a commercial printer or office supply store. It is also a good way to manage documents and paperwork by producing hard copies to use as backups or by printing documents or letters that need to be mailed out.
The first disadvantage of printers comes from the initial cost. For users who only print documents occasionally, establishing a good relationship with a local print shop may be a good idea, and a more cost-effective option than investing several hundred dollars in a home printer. While some basic models are very affordable, the sky is the limit with color laser printers and high-quality photo printers, representing a substantial investment.
Printers continue to cost money after they are purchased. Users will need to provide a constant supply of paper, which can be especially expensive for photo printers that produce images on high-quality, glossy photo paper. Ink and toner, for inkjet and laser printers, respectively, are also expensive and need to be replaced with use. Finally, any printer may require occasional maintenance or repairs, leading to even greater cost.
Having a printer connected to a computer is a way of encouraging waste. Users may be more likely to print hard copies of documents that they could easily read online or off of the computer's monitor. Excess printing wastes electricity, ink and paper, and can add up to a substantial cost over time. When only essential documents get sent out for printing, and only after extensive proofreading, there is much less waste.
Another significant advantage of a printer is the long list of features certain models include. Besides printing documents and photos, some printers can also scan, fax and make copies. This means that a computer printer may actually replace several different machines, reducing clutter and streamlining a home office.