- WiFi: Printers with built-in WiFi allow you to print wirelessly from anywhere in the house as long as you have a WiFi enabled computer. This is especially useful for homes where several users can all print to a single printer over a wireless home network. (See also Cloud Print.)
- Resolution: This is measured in dots per inch (dpi). Quality can be limited by low resolution, but high resolution doesn't guarantee good results.
- Ease of use: Typical problems include manuals which are not comprehensive enough, software which is difficult or overly complicated to install, weak paper-out trays and cartridges which cannot be replaced unless the printer believes it has run out of ink.
- Software: Printer software should be easy to use. The "driver" is the part which lets the printer interact with your word processor, picture viewer and so on. Many printers aren't supplied with up-to-date drivers. But improved or updated drivers will usually be available to download from the internet.
- Supplied accessories: Many printers are not supplied with a computer connection cable. The power cable is always supplied, but you may have to buy a USB or parallel port cable separately. Bonus software may be supplied, such as Adobe Acrobat, calendar programs and image editors. But these are unlikely to be fully featured versions.
- Direct photo printing (DPP): Many inkjet and multifunction printers can print images directly from a digital camera. There are two main methods. In the first, the digital camera is connected to the printer via a cable, usually USB. The camera is used to tell the printer what pictures to print. Alternatively, the printer may be able to print directly from a memory card. These printers usually have a small LCD screen so you can view the contents of the card and adjust the settings, prior to printing.
- Envelopes: The regular size is handled well by inkjets and lasers. C4 size envelopes (big enough for A4 contents), however, are too wide for many printers.
- DVD label printing: A few inkjets print directly onto a paper-backed DVD. Don't try it on the bare plastic - this results in a big inky mess! For occasional use, it's a handy function. For volume printing most people prefer to use A4 sheets of DVD label transfers. After printing, you simply peel these off and apply to the back of a DVD.
- The right media: To get the very best from an inkjet, you need to supply it with high-quality paper. Not so with lasers, which can produce superb text on cheap photocopy paper. Running costs for laser printers are generally far lower, as toner is much cheaper than ink.
- Other media: You may also be able to print on A3, self-adhesive paper, transparencies, and even fridge magnets.
Additionally, for multifunction printers:
Scanning: Multifunctions generally incorporate a flatbed scanner. With the built-in scanner you can capture photos and documents, and save them to your computer. Slide-scanning is a rare option on some printers that allows you to scan 35mm slides.
Most models come with optical character recognition (OCR) software, which allows text to be scanned in and saved as a file that can be worked on in a word processor.
With all flatbed scanners, depth of field can be a problem. Most models scan clearly only when the item is pressed hard up against the glass plate – tricky when copying a book.
Copying: It's the combination of a scanner and printer that allows a multifunction to act as a copier. You may find the speed frustrating if you're used to a standard photocopier. Also, the cost per page will be a lot higher.
Faxing: A few multifunction printers have a faxing function, but it isn't common.