Explanation of printer DPI

31. October 2012 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Technology News, Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

DPI DPI is an acronym for dots per inch and is used to describe the resolution of a printed image. Inkjet printers work by dispensing ink across the page via a pattern of tiny dots. DPI isn’t a major factor in printer selection if documents are the only things being printed; however, if graphic charts or photos are to be printed, DPI is important.

When searching for a new printer for the home or office, people tend to look at the number of pages per minute, or ppm, a printer is capable of producing. If the main use for the printer will be document printing and a handful of charts or basic graphics, it’s unlikely that DPI is of any concern. However, if sharp, clear images or photo printing is desired, it’s necessary to check the maximum DPI of the printer. DPI printer resolution is denoted in one of two ways. You may see it as 'some number x some number DPI,’ or you might see it as 'some number DPI.’

To understand the concept of DPI resolution, consider a photograph that has been enlarged on a computer. As the photo expands, the image becomes blurry or fuzzy. The edges of people or items become less smooth, and pixels may be apparent. This is because the pixel density wasn’t adjusted, but the overall size of the photo was adjusted. When pixel density, or pixels per inch, isn’t adjusted for a photo re-size, the quality of the photo’s appearance will begin to suffer. What does this have to do with DPI? It’s simple: if you have a printer with a low DPI resolution and you try to print a very intricate photograph, the picture will come out on paper the same way the enlarged image on the screen appeared. Edges will be rough, color gradients will be poorly transitioned and the photo’s features may appear grainy or block-y. Remember that PPI is different from DPI; PPI refers to on-screen pixels that directly touch one another, while DPI refers to printed dots with in-between spaces.

Many standard photo-capable printers today offer the user the option of DPI adjustment. During print setup, there are usually drop-down menus for quality. Users can opt to keep the setting at ‘normal’ for standard printing, or select ‘maximum DPI’ when trying to print out a photo. Maximum DPI settings are best when used in conjunction with photo paper; if regular printer paper is used, the paper may be saturated when it leaves the printing head compartment. Understand, however, that your printer is not magically gaining a higher resolution; you are simply setting it to its maximum potential. Many people prefer to keep the DPI lower for basic documents because it uses less ink. For example, if you are shopping for a photo-quality printer and come across two separate printers, one that says 300x300 DPI and another that simply says 4800 DPI, select the 4800 DPI model. However, if you will be printing mostly word-based documents and few if any photos, opt for the 300x300 model. Your photos will not be crystal clear perfect, but you will probably save a few bucks.

4 ways to make your printer last longer

25. October 2012 08:40 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

4 ways to make your printer last longer Today's printers are built to last, but that doesn't mean that you don't have to worry about maintaining yours properly. While there's no need to devote several hours of time to maintaining your printer, a little extra care can go a really long way. Whether you have a high-end office machine or a more basic model, you can improve the odds of enjoying it for years to come by taking proper care of it. The following tips are sure to help.

Clean Your Printer Regularly

Most printers have automated cleaning functions that help to keep their interiors as clean as possible. You will definitely want to put this function to use on a regular basis. However, you should plan on taking things a little further too. Printer cleaning kits are available online and in local stores. The best ones include lens covers, cleaning wipes and lubricant for a printer's rods, rollers and other moving parts. It's well worth it to keep one of these kits handy and to put it to use regularly.

While cleaning your printer, make sure to zero in on its print head. Nothing can shorten the lifespan of a printer quite like a neglected print head. On inkjet printers, this is where the nozzles that dispense the ink are located. Over time, those nozzles can build up layers of old ink. By getting into the habit of cleaning them regularly, you'll never have to worry about clogged nozzles or low-quality copies.

Store Your Printer Properly

Although modern printers are designed to be durable, they should still be stored when they aren't in use. One thing that you should never go without is a proper printer cover. Before storing your printer in the cover, turn it off. After it has turned off, unplug it. You might want to unplug its cables as well, but you won't have to worry about that if it is a wireless unit. Before covering it, wipe it down to remove any dust or debris. Fold up its tray so that it is as compact as possible. This may seem like a lot of work, but the reward will be that your printer will last a lot longer.

Take Care when Moving Your Printer

You should try to avoid moving your printer unless it's absolutely necessary. When you do move it, always remove the plugs, cords and cables before doing so. Otherwise, they could get snagged on something, and your printer could get damaged. The cord or cable itself could be damaged too.

Use Clean Paper

The paper that you use in your printer should be absolutely pristine. After all, it's going to travel through your printer and come into contact with some of its most sensitive components. If the paper has grime or dust on it, they could be transferred to the interior of your printer. From there, they could wreak all kinds of havoc. Don't open a ream of paper until you're ready to use it, and store it in a place where it's unlikely to become coated in dust or debris.

The preceding tips should be used for all printers. If you own an especially expensive or high-tech model, however, it's generally worth it to let the professionals clean and maintain it from time to time. The small amount that you pay for this service will pay off when your printer lasts for years and years. As long as you maintain your printer properly, there is no reason that you can't expect it to stand the test of time. Instead of buying a new printer every few years, you will be able to keep using the same, reliable one.   

What does internal color depth of a printer mean?

22. October 2012 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Technology News, Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

One of the most important factors in achieving high-quality prints is choosing the right printer ink. There's no need to spend a fortune on OEM ink though. You can easily find compatible inks that produce exceptional results. With that being said, there's only so much an ink cartridge can do. The technology that your printer relies on plays a pivotal role as well. The best ink in the world isn't going to matter if your printer is incapable of achieving decent internal color depth. Like many people, you may be unaware of what internal color depth is and what it means. You can learn about it below.

Factors that Affect Print Quality

As mentioned above, the quality of the ink you use has a major impact on the quality of the prints you produce. As far as the printer itself goes, many other things come into play as well. The number of cartridges that it uses has a huge impact. The more colors of ink it uses, the better the quality will usually be. More than anything though, its quality is influenced by its internal color depth, which defines the kinds of color tones that can be achieved.

What is Internal Color Depth?

Internal color depth refers to the richness of the color tones that a printer is capable of producing. Figuring out your printer's internal color depth capabilities is fairly easy. Internal color depth is measured in bits. By understanding what constitutes a decent internal color depth and what doesn't, you'll be able to determine whether your printer is up to par or not. When considering the number of bits, more is better. In other words, you should try to get a printer that has the highest internal color depth possible.

Understanding Internal Color Depth Measurements

To give you an idea about what internal color depth measurements actually mean, consider this: A typical computer screen offers 24 bits of internal color depth resolution. In the old days, computers were only capable of supporting internal color depths of up to 18 bits. On this scale, an internal color depth measurement of one bit equals black and white printing. Most people can't make do with that type of printing, which is why it's so important to take internal color depth into consideration when shopping for a new printer. Don't worry though. It's not difficult to find a high-quality printer.

24-Bit Internal Color Depth: The Gold Standard

The vast majority of today's printers offer 24-bit internal color depth technology. A total of 24 bits may not sound all that impressive, but it reflects a very rich and vibrant internal color depth. It is typically referred to as true color, and it comes remarkably close to replicating real-life images. With 24-bit internal color depth, there are 256 shades of red, blue and green. When put together, they are capable of producing 16,777,216 internal color variations. On Macs, true color is referred to as millions of colors. In either case, it represents some of the clearest, crispest and most vibrant results possible.

Taking it One Step Further

24-bit internal color depth is more than enough for the vast majority of people. If you have a pressing need for even better results, you can invest in a special video card that lets you increase your internal color depth even more. The next step up is referred to as deep color, and it produces billions of internal color variations. The results are absolutely spectacular. For all intents and purposes though, true color is more than enough. It's nice to know that additional options are out there though.   

What is a printer waste toner bottle?

19. October 2012 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Ricoh waste toner bottle Toner is a dark, powdery substance that printers use to produce text and images. Some printers can accommodate cartridges that have two compartments. These larger cartridges perform the dual function of dispensing new toner from one compartment and catching the excess residue in another. Some models need a waste toner bottle, because these machines cannot accommodate the large dual chamber cartridges that collect the excess toner.

Toner has electrostatic characteristics. The printer delivers a positive charge to the toner cartridge to activate the toner. It also produces a negatively charged version of your text or images on the printer’s drum. During the printing process, the negatively charged drum rotates attracts the positively charged toner which then adheres to its surface.

The drum releases the toner when it contacts the surface of your paper, because it has a stronger negative charge. The toner is then lifted from the drum and bonds with the fibers of the print medium. After the task is complete, some of the powdery residue will remain on the drum.

Over time, the toner that your printer did not use in the printing process will release its bond with the drum. Some machines have an electrically neutral plastic blade to accelerate this process by wiping excess toner from the drum or finished product. If a waste toner bottle is not present to catch the excess or unused toner, it will fall inside the machine.

The powdery residue will accumulate in your printer and negatively affect the quality of future documents and images. The waste toner bottle protects your printer and keeps your workspace clean. Toner has dark particulates that contain mercury, lead and other heavy metals. It also contains carbon black, which is a known carcinogenic substance. If the toner becomes airborne, it can cause wheezing, coughing and allergic reactions. Individuals with asthma and other chronic respiratory ailments may find it more difficult to breathe.

Whether the machine is monochromatic or color, it will only require one waste toner bottle. Review your owner’s manual to determine the specifications of your printer. If your model requires a waste toner bottle, it will be equipped with a sensor that alerts you when the container is full. The printer’s sensor will trigger the LCD panel to display an error message or a warning light.

You should exercise precautions when removing a full waste toner bottle. Try to avoid spilling the substance on your clothing or skin. Securely plug the bottle openings as quickly as possible to avoid spills. Discard the bottle in accordance with your local waste disposal management policies. Replace the bottle with a new one that is designed for your printer.

What is the Dell “Low Ink” warning and why it is false

12. October 2012 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments

Dell ink

In general, Dell printers are exceptional machines. Many models share one very annoying quirk though: They make low-ink warnings appear on the monitor, even when the ink is nowhere near being empty. If you have a Dell printer and have been warned about having low ink, you may have discovered this issue on your own. Upon attempting to replace the ink, you may have discovered that there was still plenty of it left. In some cases, this warning may appear only a week or so after replacing the ink. In either case, it's quite aggravating. Luckily, there's a way around the issue, and it's outlined below.

Incorrect Ink Levels

There is no clear explanation for why Dell printers sometimes incorrectly warn about low ink levels. The problem isn't universal among Dell printers; some models never have this issue. For those that do, these warnings seem to appear almost at random. Sometimes, the ink is less than half full, but that doesn't mean that it needs to be replaced. There is speculation out there that these warnings are used as a ploy to make customers buy more ink when they don't really need to, but there is no conclusive evidence that this is the case.

Steps for Correcting the Problem

You don't have to be a computer whiz to correct this vexing problem. You don't even have to open up your Dell printer or anything. Please note that this problem can happen with Dell-brand ink and with compatible ink cartridges as well. The steps for correcting the issue are the same whether you're using OEM ink or compatible ink.

  1. Click on the Start menu at the lower-left corner of your screen. You will either see an option for Control Panel, or you will immediately see a Printers and Faxes option. Either click on the Control Panel and then click on Printers and Faxes, or click immediately on the Printers and Faxes options. In other words, you need to get over to the Printers and Faxes section.
  2. A list of the available printers and faxes should be displayed. Locate the Dell printer icon and click on it. If you don't see the icon, the machine may not be on. Make sure that it's plugged in and turned on, and it should appear on the list.
  3. A new window will appear. Click on File, which should be in the upper-left corner of the new window.
  4. A drop-down menu will appear. Click on Printing Preferences.
  5. You will be presented with a window that has several tabs and clickable options. Click on Advanced Options then click on More Options.
  6. At this point, you will have two options: You can either choose to display minimized print status alerts in the Windows task bar, or you can choose not to display print status alerts at all. By clicking the second option, you will no longer be prompted to replace low ink on your Dell printer.
  7. From there, simply click on Exit. You will be asked if these settings are correct. Click Yes and exit out of the menu.

The new settings should go into effect immediately. Keep in mind that this also means that you will no longer be alerted when other issues occur. Fortunately, most Dell printers have intuitive designs, so you should be able to tell when a paper jam or other problem arises.

As far as determining when ink is truly low on your Dell printer, the easiest way to do so is by keeping an eye on print quality. If it begins to look faded or uneven, it's time to replace the ink.

How to safely store open inkjet cartridges

8. October 2012 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments

Canon MP560 ink - CLI-221BK Black Ink Cartridge

With many modern inkjet printers, there's no need to switch ink tanks between different types of print jobs. However, there are still models out there that require you to switch to different kinds of ink depending on what's being printed. For example, you may need to use special ink when printing photos. This may seem like a hassle, but it actually results in exceptional prints when done correctly. One major drawback is that it requires you to open new inkjet cartridges, use them for awhile and then switch back to regular ink. Until they're needed again, what should you do with them? Learn some handy tips below.

When is it Necessary to Switch Between Inks?

If you primarily use your printer to print documents and things like that, or if you mostly use it to print photos, you'll hardly even have to switch between different types of ink. When you do need a different kind of ink though, how should you handle the situation? If you only need to print a few photos and then switch back to regular ink, isn't your photo ink cartridge going to go bad? It doesn't have to, and there are a few different ways to keep that from happening.

Risks of Storing Open Inkjet Cartridges

It's generally best to keep backup inkjet cartridges unopened until they're needed. If you have to open them and then store them again, you need to be careful about how you do so. If you don't take the appropriate measures, your inkjet cartridge could dry out and go to waste. After spending so much money on your inkjet cartridges, you'd probably like to squeeze every last drop of use out of them. The main thing you need to worry about is drying out your cartridges, but the following techniques will prevent that.

Plastic Food Containers

The first thing to know is that you should only store one cartridge per container. If you're storing a color inkjet cartridge, place it in a plastic food container with its metal side facing down. If you're storing a black inkjet cartridge, place it in a plastic food container with the metal side facing up. You will need a piece of sponge or a piece of towel as well. Get the sponge or towel wet, but wring it out well so that it's only slightly damp. Seal it in the container with the cartridge. It will keep the cartridge from drying out while it's being stored.

Plastic Baggies

If you don't have any plastic food containers handy, you can also use a plastic baggie with a zipper closure. Just make sure that it seals shut completely. The goal is to keep air from drying out the cartridge. As with the plastic food container, you will need to place a damp piece of sponge or towel inside too. However, you can position the cartridge however you'd like. It doesn't matter if it's a color inkjet cartridge or a black inkjet cartridge.

Where to Place the Containers or Baggies

Finally, you should find a safe and secure place to store the baggies or food containers. They should be kept in a place that is relatively dark. Don't let them come into contact with direct sunlight. They should also be stored in a place that is cool. If need be, keep them in the refrigerator. From time to time, check to make sure that the towel or sponge is still damp. If it's getting too dry, go ahead and wet it again. If you're not careful, the cartridge could dry out despite being stored carefully. With these tips in mind though, your inkjet cartridges should be ready for use the next time you need them.   

Common HP Fax error codes

5. October 2012 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

To get the most out of your HP fax or all-in-one printer, you should use high-quality supplies. Compatible ink works perfectly well, and it allows you to save money. Even if you are careful about using the right supplies and are diligent about maintaining your machine, errors may still occur. With HP fax machines, error codes are used to alert you to problems. By noting these codes and finding out what they mean, you can usually resolve your HP fax problem in no time. Although there are many HP fax error codes, most people only encounter a small handful of them. The most common ones are highlighted below.

HP Fax Error Codes when Sending Faxes

It's fairly unusual to get HP fax error codes when sending faxes. Most of the error codes that you'll receive will occur when you are receiving faxes. If you have an error code when sending a fax with your HP machine, there is one easy way to remedy the situation: Disable V.34, which is also known as the modem control. Instructions for doing this should be listed in your machine's manual. It's actually quite easy to do, and your problem should be resolved.

HP Fax Error Codes when Receiving Faxes

The majority of the most common HP fax error codes occur while receiving faxes. There are dozens of codes, but only a few of them are common enough to list here:

  • 232 Code - This means that some kind of communication error has occurred between the two machines or programs. It can also mean that the power has been interrupted or turned off entirely. In most cases, you just need to try again. If the problem persists, you should disable the error correction mode, or ECM.
  • 252 Code - When this code appears, it means that your phone line is not capable of receiving faxes properly. Sometimes, this is a temporary issue and goes away after awhile. Other times, the phone line itself is to blame. You may be able to get around it by reconfiguring your HP fax to receive at a slower speed.
  • 200 Code - In this case, your fax session has timed out. Just try again in a few minutes.
  • 242 Code - This code means that your machine is confused. The other machine may be trying to receive a fax instead of sending one, or it may already be in the process of receiving another fax. The only way to handle this is by waiting for a few minutes and trying again.
  • 227 Code - If your HP fax machine displays this code while trying to receive a fax, it means that the incoming fax is not supported by the machine. You may still be able to receive it though. To do so, you will have to reconfigure the speed at which your machine receives faxes. Slowing it down usually does the trick.

If you run across a code that isn't listed here, it could mean that your HP fax is experiencing more serious problems.

3 smart things to know about storing toner cartridges

1. October 2012 06:00 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

If you only print a few pages per week, you can probably get away with just ordering a new toner cartridge when the current one gets low. For high-volume printing situations, however, it's generally best to stock up on toner cartridges so that you always have backups on hand. This is also a great idea because it allows you to take advantage of our mix and match quantity discount pricing. With all of that being said, there's no point in stocking up on toner cartridges if you don't know how to store them properly. If you're not careful, you could inadvertently damage or destroy your cartridges.

Should You Keep Spare Toner Cartridges on Hand?

There are two main reasons to store extra toner cartridges: to save money and to have new cartridges readily available. It only makes sense to do this if you do quite a lot of printing. Modern printers will warn you when your toner is low. If you don't do a lot of printing, you'll have plenty of time to order replacement cartridges. On the other hand, you should stock up on them if you print thousands of pages per month. Otherwise, you'll end up paying exorbitant shipping charges and might come up empty-handed when you really need to print something.

Tips for Storing Toner Cartridges Safely

When you go to replace an empty toner cartridge, you'd probably like the replacement to work properly. Without storing it the right way, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise. A few important tips for safely storing toner cartridges include:

  • Store at or Below Room Temperature - If the toner is kept in a room with a temperature of 70 degrees or higher, it could get too humid and ruin the toner which is a dry powder. When you go to print something, you'll immediately see that the toner is no good. Furthermore, excessive heat can damage the cartridge itself. If you can't reliably keep it in a place where the temperature doesn't get too high, you might want to store it at home or somewhere you have air conditioning. 
  • Store Away from Direct Sunlight - Keep your toner cartridges away from direct sunlight. A drawer or cupboard is a great place to store toner cartridges for this very reason. The sun can warp, damage or destroy a plastic cartridge. If the cartridge becomes deformed, it will no longer fit properly in the printer. 
  • Store in its Original Packaging - There's no reason to remove a toner cartridge from its packaging until you're ready to use it. The packaging is specifically designed to protect the cartridge from dust and other types of debris. If you remove your cartridge from its packaging right away, it could get clogged or otherwise damaged. People sometimes remove cartridges from the box right away so they can identify them. In this case, just don’t take the cartridge out of the sealed plastic bag or remove the plastic shipping seal and store the cartridge in a cabinet.

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