Types of Printers

By Marcia Frost

When it comes to purchasing a printer for your computer, there are a lot of options out there; however, they basically fit into four main categories--ink-jet, laser, all-in-one and photo/snapshot.


Ink-jet printers are the most popular for home use as they are inexpensive (some under $50) to purchase and maintain. Ink-jet printers usually use one black cartridge and individual color cartridges to produce photographs and printed sheets.


A laser printer works with a toner cartridge that fits inside the printer. It goes over a drum to produce the finished sheet. A laser printer offers higher volume per minute (and per toner) than an ink-jet, but the costs of the printer and cartridge are both usually more.


All-in-one printers are a good option for a small office or a home working space as they offer printing, scanning, copying and sometimes faxing from one unit. All-in-one printers work similarly to ink-jet printers, don't cost much more and are only a little bigger.


A photo or snapshot printer is made to print just photos. These printers are usually 4 inches by 6 inches or 5 inches by 7 inches and can print on photo-quality paper directly from a computer or digital camera memory card.


Every printer type also comes with additional size, type and color options. For example, there are mobile ink-jet printers made that can fit in a briefcase and high-quality laser printers that cost thousands of dollars and can handle high volume.