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Tips to Finding the Right Photo Printer

Because there are so many photo printers on the market these days, it can be difficult to easily find the one that is right for you. A lot of photo printers advertise features and statistics that might not mean a whole lot to most people. HP has Vivera inks; Epson has UltraChrome. What's the difference? Who knows. The HP Photosmart 8450 has a resolution of 4800 x 1200; the Epson Stylus R320 has 5760 x 1440. Are you going to notice that difference? Hard to say. With so many minor differences between different models and different manufacturers, it is better to focus on the big issues, like the following:

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1. Decide how serious you are about photo printing. You can spend anywhere from $50 to $500 or more on a photo printer, so you need to figure out if this is something you are really interested in or just something you want for occasional use. Unless you are a professional or someone who plans on selling your prints in some way, you probably don't need to spend over $200. There are plenty of models in that price range and most should give you good results.

2. Figure out which features you will actually use on a regular basis. Photo printers are packed with extra features these days, including color LCDs, memory card slots and inputs for digital cameras. But how often are you really going to use these things? Many of the features advertised on photo printers involve using the printer as a standalone machine - in other words printing without the use of your computer. That may sound neat, but in reality how many people print pictures directly from their camera or memory card without looking at them on their computer? Viewing and editing photos on a 2? screen is just not very practical. Also, while it does make the printer menu easier to use, you might find that a feature like an LCD has little practical use.

3. Try to narrow it down to one brand. This may be easier said than done, but things will be much easier if you can focus on one brand and not have to worry about comparing different technologies and terminology. Think about your past experiences or what others have told you about their own printers. For instance, if you are sick of your old Epson inkjet printer jamming, then maybe it's time to try a Canon.

4. Do a side-by-side comparison of specifications and user reviews. While we did say that the descriptions and specifications on photo printers can be confusing, once you have narrowed it down to two or three printers, there is really no other way for you to tell the difference. You can't properly test out the photo quality yourself, so all you can rely on are the specifications and what others say about the printers. Online user feedback can be slightly skewed sometimes though. One, there might not be enough reviews to get an accurate assesment. Two, people have the tendency to seek out a place to express their frustations rather than their happiness. If you are content with your printer, then you probably aren't going to go out of your way to find a review site and write up a review about how the photo printer does exactly what it should. But if you are unhappy with it, you will be glad to go through the trouble to let whole world know how much the printer stinks. That being said, if you notice the same comments being repeated at different trusted sources of reviews, like CNET and Amazon, it is probably safe to say they are pretty accurate

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