Choosing Your Printer
It really doesn’t matter what software application you’re working on: No matter how careful you are with your graphics, your work will be enhanced by choosing the right printer for the job. Just how do you go about that?
Generally speaking, inkjet printers are better for digital design and photographic printing. Laser printers, normally a little more expensive, do a great job of churning out pages and pages of text.
Some experts believe that the best printers for photos utilize a process called thermal dye-transfer technology, in which the dye is melded onto the paper with the use of heat generated by the print head. Some people like the Kodak EasyShare 5300 printers, which not only use thermal dye-transfer technology but also incorporate a fixed print head. A look at user reviews on Amazon’s website revealed a significant amount of people complaining about problems with the print head, although Kodak’s customer service has always been good. Kodak is also known for utilizing pigment-based dyes for better color and cheaper replacement cartridges.
I'm not looking to recommend just one brand or printer here. Another well-respected manufacturer is Hewlett Packard, so you might want to give the HP Photosmart 5510 a shot. You can set up your desktop with either of these workhorses for under a hundred bucks. A more expensive printer (about $300), also highly rated by lots of customers, is the Canon i860.
Keep in mind, no matter what printer you use, you will lose its full advantages if you don't set it up correctly when it's time to print. After you hit the “print" button, most programs take you to a print set-up page that, among other things, lets you click on Printer Properties. From there you can set the print quality. The screenshot taken shows the settings on my humble but very faithful Lexmark, from Quick Print (poor), to Normal, to Photo (best). If I click on the “I Want To" label, I get a drop-down window with more options.