The Fine Print(3)

from Technology & Learning

An update on the newest printers and printing trends.

Xerox's Phaser 6180

Years ago it was predicted that computers would obviate the need for hard copy. In reality, we print on paper more than ever before. Along with this increase, the choice of types of computer printers and their features has also risen—ink-jet or laser, color or B&W, multifunction or single function, networked or stand-alone, photo or regular.

Your choice of a printer should be based on your printing needs. For example, a classroom printer and an office printer are used for quite different purposes, and so your printer choice should reflect these differences.

In recent years many schools have gravitated toward the use of networked printers. The pros of networked printers include the need for fewer printers (which translates into lower costs, according to T&L blogger David Jakes, whose district has eliminated printers on teachers' desktops in favor of centralized laser printers) and uniformity, as well as the ability to print from various locations. Cons? Every teacher does not necessarily have a printer in his or her classroom, making just-in-time printing difficult.

An interesting innovation is on-demand printing. In such a system you send a document to print and then you go to any printer on the system, enter your personal code, and have the output printed there. Each account (teachers, students, administrators, and support staff) can have a printing limit set, so that people become more aware of the potential of wasting paper and ink. The number of people who just click Print on a Web site and get 10 pages when all they wanted was one could drop significantly.

In general, the price of printers has dropped in recent years. As far as the classroom is concerned, color laser printers are now affordable. Additionally, ink-jet technology keeps improving. On the following pages we bring you a rundown of affordable, classroom-appropriate color printers, laser and ink-jet. Note: Quoted prices are either "street" price or from the manufacturer's Web site.

Jeffrey Branzburg is a contributing editor and columnist for T&L.

What Type of Printer Should I Consider?

The choice of printer is greatly influenced by context and planning; decisions such as networking or on-demand printing are made on a school-wide or district-wide basis. Other features and considerations can depend on location, number of users, and potential uses of the printer(s):




  • Teacher and student use
  • Speed: low to moderate importance
  • High resolution needed for graphics and pictures
  • Frequent color printing

School department

  • Department member use
  • Speed: low importance
  • High resolution needed for graphics and pictures
  • Occasional color printing

Small school/district office

  • Office staff use
  • Speed: moderately important
  • Fax, scan, copy

Large school/district office

  • Office staff use
  • Speed: very important
  • Primarily print forms, letters, official communications
  • Possibly fax, scan, copy

District office

  • Office staff use
  • Speed: very important
  • Large number of pages printed
  • High speed
  • Occasional color printing