How to choose a printer that is right for you

30. December 2011 11:40 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

How to chose a printer that is right for youDifferent printers are designed to fulfill different productivity needs. Finding the right match requires careful consideration of one’s needs. While price is always a factor, it is not the only thing to consider when choosing a printer. The following is a brief guide to help prospective buyers decide on which printing solution is optimally compatible with their printing needs.

Speed is a major difference that accounts for wide price variances among printing solutions. When considering which printer to purchase, one should evaluate what their most common printing situations demand. If you are printing solely text, then selecting a monochromatic laser printer, like the Dell 1110 toner printer, can be a perfect solution because most will operate at approximately 17 to 30 pages per minute at maximum capacity. Some larger office printers can print at greater speeds, but the overall monthly workload can then be the determining factor. If a monochromatic laser printer is listed as a small to medium business solution, then it will typically produce 25,000 to 50,000 pages per month. If you mostly print single-sided text documents, a range of basic laser monochromatic printers would be best to choose from.

When color prints and higher resolution are required, laser printers can become much more costly. An inkjet printer is significantly slower, but it typically can print at a greater resolution at a lower cost. Choosing from the assortment of desktop inkjet printers is a good choice for users needing to print a small amount of high quality color images at an affordable price. Typically, inkjets are best utilized in homes or as supplemental machines to a monochromatic laser printer when productivity calls for only a few high quality color images to be printed without a time constraint. Choosing a color laser toner printer will provide fast print speeds that can range from seven to 25 pages per minute to accommodate small to medium sized businesses with a frequent demand for color printing. If your needs are greater than that, then consider a larger machine with a 30 page per minute color printing capability. Larger machines will cost more, but it is an investment in productivity speed.

Page size capabilities and two-sided printing are further options that become necessary as one progresses up the scale of output. With the exception of some thermal printers and many personal photo printers, most will handle standard A4 paper. If you require larger print handling capability, then your options may include various scaled capabilities from legal-sized page capacity up to plotters and poster inkjet printers.

The list of varying capabilities goes on to include wireless networking; advanced digital document and paper handling; and multitasking to name a few. There is not a single printer that is guaranteed to meet the consumer needs of every document productivity situation. It is best to prioritize the capabilities you need based on a typical month's productivity cycle. Once you have an idea of what options are necessary to support your output, then you can find the matching printer that is right for you.

5 ways to reduce your printing costs

24. December 2011 09:36 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Save money on printing costsNowadays, businesses are getting creative in their cost-cutting measures. One overlooked area where a little penny-pinching can yield big savings is cutting printing costs. People who print at home know how quickly the cost of ink cartridges and paper can add up, so just imagine how much it costs a business with high-volume printing needs. Luckily, cutting printing costs is easy. Keep reading to learn five easy ways.

1. If it Doesn't Need Printing, Don't
This sounds intuitive, but it is surprising the amount of emails, memos, and other notices that people print that they really don't need to. An office policy of electronic distribution of notices will easily cutback on this problem.

2. Print on Both Sides of the Sheet
One often underused feature on many printers is duplexing, which is printing on both sides of a sheet. Not every printer has this feature, but if it is available it can cut paper costs in half. Think about it. A fifty page report distributed to ten people amounts to five-hundred sheets of paper. Using the duplex feature cuts it down to two-hundred and fifty.

3. Don't Use Color Ink if It Isn't Necessary
Anytime a person is working on a chart or project that includes color they probably need to print drafts first. Color toner and ink cartridges are more expensive than their color counterparts. If there isn't a need to have the draft in color, then don't print it in color. Save money and use the black instead.

4. Use the Economy Print Settings that Save Ink and Toner
Many printers have special options to save ink or toner. Some have draft options that will reduce the amount of ink or toner used on drafts of a project, and laser printers typically have a toner save mode. Both of these options provide an easy way to cut ink or toner costs that many people don't know about.

5. Switch From an Inkjet to a Laser Printer
For businesses or individuals with high printing needs, a laser printer is a more economical choice. Yes, laser printers require drum units and sometimes multiple cheap toner cartridges, but their cost per page is less than an inkjet printer. The long-term savings from making the switch will payoff in the end.

Given the increasing cost of everything these days, people need to save money where they can. These five easy tips will cut printing costs immediately. For businesses or individuals with large printing needs, these savings can add up fast and be better spent elsewhere.

How to print on envelopes

22. December 2011 09:25 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Printing on envelopesPrinted envelopes present a more professional appearance than handwritten ones. In addition, they are more legible. For those with poor handwriting, this means a letter will get to its intended destination. Typically, it is more cost-effective to print envelopes yourself than to buy bulk pre-printed mailing labels. Using a printer to print address information on envelopes is easy and you can use an inkjet or toner printer. Keep reading to learn how to do this.

Most word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, make it easy to print on envelopes. They have specific settings for doing this. In Microsoft Word the setting is found under the "tools" menu. In other word processing programs locating the envelope print setting is likely different, but most word processing programs are similar enough that person shouldn't have too much trouble. After selecting the appropriate setting, type out the return and delivery address. If a person wants to, they can adjust the font and letter sizes using the available options and even include a graphic.  If you are using a color toner or color inkjet printer, the image will be printed in color on your envelope.

The next step is to adjust the printer settings. In Microsoft Word select "page setup," then select the correct envelope size. Under the "orientation" option choose to print lengthwise. There might be an envelope setting. If there is, select this option instead. Before printing, select "print preview" to ensure that the envelope will print correctly. When it is time to print remove all paper from the paper tray, adjust the paper size on the tray for the envelope, and insert the envelope. If everything is correct the envelope will print and look professional.

Printing envelopes isn't difficult. A person just needs to know the proper settings. It is easy to do in Microsoft Word, and most other word processing programs are similar. For a business or person that buys pre-printed mailing labels knowing how to print on envelopes will save money. Printed envelopes present a more professional appearance and help those with sloppy handwriting to make sure their letter gets to where it needs to.

How to change the bulbs in the Canon Pixma MX700

19. December 2011 11:04 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Canon PIXMA MX700 printerThe Canon Pixma MX700 is a handy all in one printer, copier, scanner, and fax. However, there are a few features on this product that set it apart from other all in one printers. Most notably its use of a bulb enabling the device to scan, copy, and print. This bulb faces the same issue faced by all bulbs; it needs replacement when it burns out. Without it, the Canon Pixma MX700 won't work. To ensure the continued trouble free use of their Pixma MX700, a person needs to know how to change this bulb. Luckily, changing the Pixma MX700 bulb isn't difficult and is almost as easy as changing the Canon ink cartridge. All that is needed to replace it is a pair of latex or rubber gloves and a new bulb. Bulbs are easily found online and are also available at many office supply stores.

To get started, make sure the printer is turned off, unplugged, and disconnected from the computer. The printer needs to cool down, so don't attempt to change the bulb while it is still hot. This can result in a burn. After the printer cools off, ensure that it is on a steady surface to make changing the bulb easier and to avoid dropping or breaking anything.

Now, it is time to start the actual work. There is a panel on top of the scanner. Open it. This allows access to the scanner glass surface. From this point on make sure to wear the latex or rubber gloves to protect the surfaces inside the machine and the surface of the bulb. On the left side of the scanner is an unlock button. Press it and lift the glass flatbed exposing the inside of the printer. The old bulb will be visible on the left side. Grasp it and remove it from the machine. Removing the bulb is similar to removing a regular light bulb. Insert the new bulb into the socket making sure it snaps in. Reassemble the machine, and now it should work.

After reassembly, if the printer isn't working, make sure all of the power and USB cables are properly connected. If this isn't the cause of the problem, double check to ensure the bulb snapped into the socket properly. If the printer still doesn't work after this, then there is a more serious problem with the machine. Contact the manufacturer or an authorized service center to figure out what to do next.

Benefits of recycling your printer cartridges

15. December 2011 09:34 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Any business owner with high printing volume knows how fast they burn through printer cartridges. Now, multiply this at the national or world level, and it is astounding to think of the number of empty ink and toner cartridges that end up in landfills every year. Empty cartridges take thousands of years to breakdown and often release toxic chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds, as they do. Producing printer cartridges requires making plastic, metal, and consuming oil resulting in pollution and greenhouse gasses. Businesses can easily cut their environmental impact by recycling their empty ink and toner cartridges.

The printer cartridge remanufacturing industry has a 20 plus year history. Initially, it developed a bad reputation caused by many businesses not properly inspecting and filling cartridges resulting in damage to printers. This caused many people to shy away from it. Today, the cartridge remanufacturing industry has developed into a professional and reliable one. Remanufactured cartridges now undergo a thorough inspection and cleaning. Worn and damaged parts get replaced and cartridges refilled with fresh ink or toner. These cartridges are often indistinguishable from new ones and come with a warranty.

RecycleRecycled ink and toner cartridges typically cost 50 to 80 percent less than new ones. For a business that prints a lot, this represents a big savings. More than that, recycling printer cartridges reduces a companies environmental impact. Producing a single toner cartridge yields a surprising amount of pollution and leaves a significant carbon footprint. A business that chooses to use remanufactured cartridges is taking a step towards going green and reducing energy costs; this helps everyone.  We offer a free toner cartridge recycling program that includes return shipping, as long as you are sending at least 8 cartridges.

There aren't any drawbacks to recycling and using remanufactured printer cartridges. It reduces the amount of waste in landfills, reduces energy consumption, and saves money. Modern remanufacturing methods yield a product indistinguishable from a new one. Remanufactures offer warranties with their cartridges and most office supply stores offer in store credit for empty ones. Businesses or individuals with high printing volume that aren't taking advantage of recycled ink and toner cartridges are wasting their money.

How to choose a scanner

13. December 2011 14:21 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Canon PIXMA MX700Consumer scanners have progressed dramatically in their capabilities and image quality over the last decade. Now, affordable scanners may be purchased as stand-alone machines or as part of multi-function document solution. Choosing the right scanner does require a general understanding of the varying capabilities that are prevalent in today's machines, which begins with a broad introduction to what is out there.

All consumer image scanners can be divided into a few categories. Flatbed, sheet-feed and duplex scanners are the most common choices that meet the needs of most consumers. Specialty image scanners such as drum and wide format scanners are specifically targeted toward industry professionals that require immensely high resolution scanning and other necessities of the professional market. For most consumers, the three listed scanner types from above will meet all of one’s productivity requirements.

Many consumers are choosing to purchase a multi-function machine that has an incorporated flatbed and sheet-feed scanner, like the Canon MX700 ink. These scanners represent significant improvements over the included scanners of a few years ago, but the specific qualities can vary. A dominant variable in these types of scanners is the color depth capabilities. Color depth refers to a measurement of the number of tonal differences a scanner can produce in a digital image. Common color depth measurements include 8, 16 and 24 bit depth. There are machines that are advertised at 48 bit color depth, but these are rare and not widely practical due to incompatibility with many current image programs. The basics of color depth are that higher bit depth offers greater subtle tonal representation within hues. This allows for greater fine tuning of color to more accurately represent images as the human eye may have perceived them originally.

Interpolation is another frequently touted specification by manufacturers because of the high resolution numbers it is usually represented with. However, the true functionality of a scanner is most accurately represented by its optical resolution. Interpolation is a digital way of increasing the size of a scanned image beyond the capabilities of its optical parts. A simplified explanation of how interpolation works is that the machine will actually replicate the pixels of an image to create larger images. This function produces varied results because some firmware is better than others, but ultimately it is only a useful function if one's output needs to be significantly larger than the original image being scanned.

One of the greatest distinguishing specifications among scanners is speed. High speed scanners use various techniques to accomplish faster scan times. The difficulty can be in determining what a scanners speed is at a desired resolution as many scanners will list their faster speeds that are typically associated with lower resolution images. Sheet-feed scanners are faster overall than flatbed scanners because they greatly reduce the time needed to change the page. Duplex sheet-feed scanners reduce speed even further by incorporating two single-pass optics capable of scanning both sides of a page simultaneously.

Ultimately, choosing the right scanner will depend on your resolution, color depth and speed needs.

How to clean the drum in your printer

8. December 2011 14:07 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Often, people are quick to replace their printer drums when they quit working properly. However, this isn't always necessary. Given the cost of drum units, wouldn't it be great if there was a way to extend the life of one? There is. If prints start coming out with lines, streaks, blotches, or other defects don't toss that drum unit just yet. All it may need is a thorough cleaning. Luckily, with a little effort and a few supplies, a person can easily get a drum unit back into good working order saving themselves the cost of a new one.

To clean a drum unit, a person needs to gather a few supplies. Q-tips, tweezers or small needle-nose pliers, a soft cleaning cloth, some paper towel, and rubbing alcohol should suffice. The first step is removing the drum unit from the printer. Follow the manufacturers instructions to avoid damaging the printer or drum unit. Exercise care when handling the printer drum. Fingerprints on the roller surfaces may affect printing and it is possible to spill toner making a huge mess. This is where the paper towel comes in. Use it to provide a clean surface to place the drum unit on and to catch any spilled toner while cleaning it.

After the drum unit is successfully removed, inspect it for any obvious damage. Sometimes the drum is connected to the toner cartridge, but it can also be a separate assembly, like with Brother toner cartridge printers.  If there is any damage, stop here and replace the unit. If not, look for any large chunks of toner on the drum unit. Remove them with the tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Most manufacturers recommend against using sharp or hard objects to remove bits of toner. However, using tweezers is quite effective, so exercise caution and don't rush it. Next, dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and use it to clean any oily or dirty areas visible on the drum. If the drum unit itself appears dirty, apply rubbing alcohol to the cleaning cloth and thoroughly wipe the unit down. Give the drum one more thorough inspection to ensure there are no more obstructions and that all dirty areas are clean. Then, replace the drum unit and perform a test print to see if it is working properly.

Next time a printer starts printing with blotches and streaks, don't run out and replace its drum unit quite yet. Pop it open, and take a look at the drum unit; a good cleaning may solve the problem.

Common Lexmark Optra printer error codes

5. December 2011 09:00 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Lexmark printers are considered to be very reliable printers and can withstand the rigors of daily print jobs. However, every printer will experience an error at some point during their service lives, so knowing what each message means can save money by helping to avoid unneeded repairs. Here are several common Lexmark Optra printer error codes, including instructions on how to clear these errors.

Error 200 & 201 – Paper Jam
An error 200 message appears if there is paper blocking the pathways of the printer. If there are no blockages in the printer, the sensors(s) could be blocked. Removing any jammed paper from the printer often clears this error.

An error 201 is an indication that paper is jammed between input sensors: between the front and back input sensors. This error can often be cleared by removing any paper that has jammed inside of the printer.

More information can be found by reading our blog post how to remove paper jams.

Error 80 – Scheduled Maintenance
Modern Lexmark printers contain a counter that alerts a user when the printer should have maintenance performed. The counter records the amount of pages printed, and the error message signifies that the maximum number of pages have been printed. Several parts may need to be replaced periodically to ensure reliable printing.

Error 900 – Service Error
An error 900 can occur due to a problem with the hardware in the printer, or due to a connection problem between the printer and a device. If the error occurs while the printer is communicating with a computer or network, the problem is network or connection related. If the error occurs while the printer is not in use or not connected to a network or a computer, the hardware could be the culprit if not the connection itself. Checking the printer and the connection to the printer often remedies this problem.

Error 901 – Engine Flash Error
This error often occurs due to a temporary engine glitch. To clear a 901 error, simply turn off the printer for at least five minutes. If the error doesn’t return after powering on the printer, a temporary glitch was the issue and shouldn’t require any further troubleshooting.

Error 902 – Service Engine Software
An error 902 is an indication that the software in the engine board has failed. If turning off the printer for ten minutes or longer doesn’t clear the error once the printer has been turned back on, performing a NVRAM reset on the printer may clear the message.

Error 903-906
Errors 903, 904, 905 and 906 are all indications of a failure or fault of the printer’s system board. Turning off the printer for ten minutes or longer should clear the error. If the error returns after powering on the printer, resetting the NVRAM could clear the error message.

Error 929 – Toner Sensor
An error 929 occurs when there is a problem with the Lexmark toner sensor, as well as several other components. Checking the toner cartridge first can help rule-out the possibility of other culprits causing the error since defective toner cartridges often cause this alert.

Why you should not use inkjet refill kits

2. December 2011 09:00 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

No Inkjet Refill KitIn the quest to cut costs and save time, it is tempting to use an inkjet refill kit. These kits are sold at many popular stores and claim that a person can quickly and easily refill an empty ink cartridge at home. Advertisements show happy customers demonstrating their ease of use and impressive results. It is true that they do work. In fact, they work well for many people. However, what many consumers don't realize, is that there are hidden risks associated with inkjet refill kits.

Almost all new printers come with a manufacturer's warranty. The maker covers any defects, damage, and other problems that occur through normal use. Given that inkjet refill kits don't come with a warranty covering their use in a printer, this leaves the consumer liable should their printer get damaged using the kit. The average home user isn't an experienced printer tech, either. Their knowledge of refilling cartridges is probably limited to the instructions provided by the maker of the refill kit. It is very easy to damage a cartridge. Couple this with the now lack-of-warranty, and trying to save money by refilling an ink cartridge at home may end up costing a lot more than originally planned.

The other problem with refilling a cartridge is assuming the print head does not need to be replaced.  Many times, the print head becomes clogged with ink.  You can run the cleaning function built into your printer, but the function isn’t designed to clean old cartridges and cartridges that have been used many more times than designed.

Remanufactured inkjet cartridges typically cost 30 to 50 percent less than new ones and don't have any of the hassle associated with inkjet refill kits. Remanufacturers inspect, clean, and refill empty cartridges with the right type of ink. Typically, they offer a warranty and guarantee their product won't damage printers. Not to mention professionals do all the work. Given the choice to do it at home with a questionable product, or have a professional refill it and offer a warranty, most people should go with our remanufactured inkjet cartridges or use a solid ink printer like the Phaser 8560 ink printer that has no cartridge.

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